Q&A: Regenesys Business School CEO Leoni Grobler
Regenesys Business School academic programmes will finish on schedule this year, says CEO Leoni Grobler
FM: What has Regenesys been doing to help students during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Grobler: Through the Regenesys Foundation, we have launched a lockdown initiative to provide access to higher education to individuals and organisations affected by the pandemic. Course fees for online MBA, postgraduate diploma, bachelor and higher certificate programmes have been reduced by 60% between May and August.
FM: Do you have a timetable for students to return to on-campus classrooms?
Grobler: It is unlikely that students will return to campus this year given that Gauteng has emerged as the epicentre of the virus in SA. We conducted a survey to ascertain how many students would want to return to campus. Most opted to continue studying online. Our resource centre and classroom facilities will be made available if students wish to use them.
FM: Do you expect academic programmes and exams to be completed on schedule this year?
Grobler: We are confident our academic schedule will be completed this year, though we might need to extend our exam timetable by a week or two.
FM: What do you consider to be the comparative advantages of face-to-face teaching versus online/virtual teaching?
Grobler: Based on student feedback, the key advantage of online learning is flexibility. Online facilitators can still deliver interactive sessions. These sessions are recorded and students who are unable to attend scheduled classes can watch the recordings and interact with tutors and academics through our student portal. Enhancement of our digital capabilities has allowed us to improve systems and processes.
It is more challenging facilitating online because it is harder keeping students engaged. Another disadvantage is access to affordable data. Many of our undergraduate students don’t have access to free or uncapped Wi-Fi. The use of outdated software and noncompatible devices has also created challenges.
FM: How do you advise companies to enhance teamwork, trust and common vision if employees rarely see one another?
Grobler: We conducted interviews with over 390 organisations and found that where meaningful culture and leadership was strong before lockdown, these environments are now thriving. Leaders need to connect with staff on a personal level. The key is transformational and authentic leadership that encourages forward thinking and resilience.
FM: For many CEOs, the immediate priority is business survival. How do you advise them to balance this with long-term planning?
Grobler: A particular mindset is required by CEOs right now to ensure business survival but also to establish a strong foundation for long-term sustainability. CEOs have to be constantly innovating and driving organisational efficiencies. Because organisations have to be agile and adaptive in order to survive, they need structures that accelerate decision-making and an organisational culture that supports a growth mindset. The reconfiguration of their organisation and investment in technology will contribute to their long-term sustainability.
FM: There is a perception in some quarters that business schools are so steeped in traditional business thinking that they will struggle to provide clients with the out-of-the-box ideas required to make a fresh start after Covid. Is this criticism fair in SA?
Grobler: I don’t believe so. Business schools are generally much more responsive and innovative than the universities to which some them are attached. In general, schools are responsive to client and industry requirements, especially with executive education. Bespoke programmes are designed to create practical solutions by not only immersing schools in the organisations they service but also by using Covid-19 as an immersive learning environment to coach and prepare for future disruptions.
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