Being a part time MBA student means I have an entire year to complete my thesis before graduation in December. It also means that I no longer have my night time classes to get my daily dose of inspiration, learning and developing. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to attend a USB MBA evening of networking held earlier this week.
Prof Powell gave his final speech as dean of USB. This is a man who continuously makes you think critically about all scenarios in life. His message for the evening was no different. When a Welshman stands in front of a crowd and talks about how the various races of South Africa lead differently, you would think that most people would drop their jaws and get offended. However, this being a crowd of intellectual MBAs, we objectively started to discuss what was being said, instead of being offended.
Essentially there are four majority groups in South Africa: the white Afrikaner, the white Englishman, the coloured and the black. Prof Powell gave an interesting reflection on how each of these groups differs in their leadership style given the history and upbringing each of them had in South Africa. I fear that I will neither give justice to his speech nor articulate it as politically correctly as he did if I were to repeat it here. However, how the groups vary is not what is important, the message was about how we work as a whole.
Using bees and ants as a reference, it is the collective consciousness that makes organisations thrive. We should embrace intellectual aggression, diverse opinions and bring out the voice of each individual. Although much easier said than practised, this is one of the ways that a business school must flourish in order to move forward. A way in which this can be achieved is by investigating multiple solutions devised by a variety of individuals to each problem.
As always, Prof Powell’s words stimulated debate around the table. I have not seen my classmates for almost two months. I want to use the excuses of ‘I live on the other side of town’ and ‘I have been busy at work’ and ‘Seeing family members’ but the truth is, there should not be an excuse because for two years I juggled it all and more!
Seeing everyone again is so good for the soul. I cannot help but wonder whether all MBA classes have such tight bonds and whether the friendship continues long after the classes have ended, like ours has. One night with these individuals and I am suitably re-energised for the second half of the year.