Sibusiso Sibisi. Picture: BRETT ELOFF/BUSINESS DAY
Sibusiso Sibisi. Picture: BRETT ELOFF/BUSINESS DAY

Wits Business School (WBS) is looking for yet another director. Sibusiso Sibisi, the former Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) head who was lured out of retirement to take on the WBS job in January 2018, is leaving two years into what was supposed to be a five-year term. He will go at the end of December.

Jannie Rossouw, who will retire at the same time as head of Wits University’s School of Economic & Business Sciences, will move across to WBS as acting director until a permanent appointment can be made.

Sibusiso Sibisi. Picture: Supplied
Sibusiso Sibisi. Picture: Supplied

Sibisi, whose academic specialities are mathematical modelling and computational science, has found it hard to fit into the business school environment, where academia sometimes sits uneasily with nonacademic and commercial priorities. It was thought his CSIR background of turning scientific theory into practice would help WBS adapt to the changing educational environment. Instead, it has been agreed he is better suited to helping the main university deepen its knowledge and activities in areas like data science and machine learning.

Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib says the university is talking to potential private sector partners about setting up an initiative specialising in artificial intelligence, technology and finance. He says: "[Sibisi] provides a unique set of skills which bridges the natural and commercial sciences. He is the ideal person to take forward our initiative to assist SA’s businesses to transform themselves for the digital era."

WBS has found it hard in the past 15 years to find long-term, stable leadership and has gone through a series of directors.

However, Sibisi’s resignation comes at a time when many of SA’s business schools are facing a similar leadership challenge. Besides WBS, the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science and the university schools of Stellenbosch and Cape Town are all looking for new deans and directors. So are KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Unisa, all run by acting directors.