The hole truth
SA needs a new brand of leaders, says Randall Carolissen
SA needs leaders who can cope with chaos — “people who can help us out of the hole we’re in” — says Johannesburg Business School (JBS) dean Randall Carolissen.
Corruption, inequality and poverty continue to dog SA. The country is also affected by what happens globally, be it recession, war, Covid or breakdowns in trading structures. “I ask those around me, what is society going to look like, what are we preparing our young people for, and what skills do we need to equip our future leaders with?” says Carolissen.
The former SA Revenue Service and National Student Financial Aid Scheme executive has changed plenty since he moved to JBS last year. For one thing, he’s persuaded University of Johannesburg (UJ) administrators that the school should be a self-contained faculty.
“Business schools must be able to react quickly to market demands and to make an impact on society,” he says. “A degree of independence makes that a lot easier.” Some universities don’t want their business schools to operate differently to purely academic departments, not least because of their ability to earn considerable revenue from executive education. “We are fortunate to have visionary UJ leadership that understands us,” says Carolissen.
Before Carolissen arrived, JBS’s main focus was on SME development. While this remains important, the school has broadened its activities into other sectors of the economy, including health care.
Executive education director Tumi Nkosi says the school is less interested in open programmes, available to individuals from multiple companies, than in customised, tailor-made programmes for corporate clients.
While many clients come in with preconceived ideas about what they need from executive education, this often changes before programmes begin. “We don’t spray and play,” says Nkosi. “We tell clients we need to talk and see what works.”
We don’t spray and play. We tell clients we need to talk and see what worksTumi Nkosi
Women leadership programmes are proving a particular drawcard. Nkosi says the school believes general leadership, irrespective of gender, also needs a rethink. In many companies, leadership training is often limited to senior managers and executives. “That leaves a vacuum,” says Nkosi. “We think it should begin at mid-management level.”
Academic programmes are growing. Carolissen says that when it introduced a business doctoral programme, JBS expected to launch it with eight students. Instead, more than 100 people applied and 33 — all master’s graduates — were accepted.
Carolissen says JBS has begun the long road towards international accreditation. Like all legitimate SA business schools, its programmes are accredited by the local Council on Higher Education. Further afield, the first priority is the African Association of African Business Schools, then the UK’s Business Graduates Association, and after that the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. “We have our accreditation route mapped out,” says Carolissen.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.