Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

The impact of Covid-19 offers business schools a unique opportunity to re-evaluate the future of business and their role in shaping it, says Zaheer Hamid, academic director of the Management College of Southern Africa (Mancosa).

It’s too early to predict confidently what the post-Covid business environment will look like, but many companies are already moving away from traditional thinking. Whether it’s remote working, new technologies or finding different ways to reach customers, Hamid says they are “leapfrogging ahead” in search of new models.

That means schools must also adopt fresh ideas. Instead of doing “what we thought employers wanted”, they must be more proactive. Companies’ need for guidance offers the potential for “a more connected partnership” with schools. “Covid-19 has given us all a reality check,” he says.

Formal executive education is not a major part of Mancosa’s overall activities. In 2019, the school – based in Durban but with learning centres in several major SA centres – hosted 16 students on open courses and 122 on customised corporate programmes. It describes its programmes as “an infusion of actionable insights, methodologies and strategies that empower participants to be architects of growth and a source of competitive advantage within their organisations”.

One area that Mancosa focuses on in all its educational activities is employability – providing students not just with learning but also relevant skills that will help them find work and careers in a rapidly changing jobs market. Given the huge job losses being caused by Covid-19, “that has become even more relevant”, says Hamid.

“There will be a different attitude towards labour and productivity when all this is over,” he predicts. “Many traditional skills will still be relevant but will have to be updated. Companies will have to see what works and what doesn’t. Digital transformation within companies will accelerate. Leaders will have to embrace change management.

“There is so much to learn, so much to teach. The opportunities are exciting.”

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