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Why Select An MBA?

The MBA remains a highly sought-after and popular business qualification.

Monique Verduyn

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What will you get out of an MBA? Skills firstly, including economics, finance, marketing, operations, management, and accounting. But MBA programmes are also designed to impart soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, ethics, and communication – all of which are critical for effective management.

In addition, the MBA offers access to a network of fellow students, alumni, faculty, and business and community leaders. This network can be very useful when beginning a job search, developing a career path, building business relationships in your current career, pursuing expertise outside your current field, or launching your own business. After all, entrepreneurs need access to capital, business partners, vendors, and clients.

Is now a good time?

In a recessionary environment, an MBA offers the opportunity to reassess career goals, assess strengths and values and learn new skills. By taking the time to invest in your own personal development, an MBA enables you to ride out the slump and return to the job market refreshed, refocused and retooled.

The current economic climate makes the MBA more valuable than ever, according to Shireen Chengadu, GIBS MBA Programme Director.

“People looking to upskill themselves find that the generalist MBA programme gives them in-depth exposure to a wide variety of disciplines, so whether you are seeking to move to a different career portfolio or perhaps start your own business, the MBA gives you the all-round experience you need to overcome the downturn and the skills you need to ride the upturn.”Chengadu notes that the MBA has always been a popular choice of study in South Africa.

“Most of our students’ study fees are covered by their employers, which indicates the ongoing popularity of the MBA in the workplace. Employers continue to recognise the importance of developing a leadership pipeline for the future.”

When to enrol for an MBA

In the US, young graduates proceed straight to business school. In South Africa, most business schools prefer their students to have some work experience. “To engage constructively on topics such as finance and management, some experience is required to ensure that the students actually get value out of the exercise,” says Chengadu.

“With some work experience, learning is optimised.” GIBS requires a minimum of five years’ work experience, with at least two at management level. GIBS’s full-time entrepreneurial MBA is however open to graduates who have worked for a year or two and are keen to get their own business off the ground.

The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) MBA programme is also geared toward mature adults who have proven academic ability and business experience, says Tom Ryan, associate professor at the UCT GSB. “Students are selected on their capacity for personal and professional development.

Generally, they are over 25 years old, have a minimum of three years’ work experience, have completed are cognised tertiary degree and are fluent in English.”Wits Business School requires at least three years post-university experience, with applicants who have more experience standing a better chance of being selected.

Criteria for admission

MBA programmes worth their salt have rigorous admission criteria. At UCT GSB, candidates who don’t meet the tertiary degree requirement, but who are considered to have high potential based on other selection criteria, may be required to complete further assessments as determined by the school.

In addition, all applicants are required to write the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).“GSB uses anumber of other indicators of ability and motivation,” says Ryan. “These include essays about life experience, goals, attitudes and values; evaluations from referees; and details of job, educational and extramural activities. All applicants are interviewed either by the MBA Director, members of the faculty or alumni.”

“We consider applicants who hold an undergraduate degree, have four years’ work experience and achieve a satisfactory result on their GMAT,” says Zimasa Koyana, manager, academic programme, at WBS. “We do also consider a small number of exceptional individuals who do not have degrees.”

The GIBS admission process includes a test that measures learning potential, numerical and verbal skills, and  critical reasoning, as well as a GMAT. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree. “In addition, applicants have to write essays on a number of management and leadership topics; we look at these to assess writing skills, as well as the ability to develop and sustain an argument.” says Chengadu GIBS also runs an annual 60 Second Challenge which requires candidates to post a video of themselves on YouTube to convince viewers in 60 seconds why they are the most deserving candidate for a scholarship to study the full-time entrepreneurship MBA.

What is the key content of the MBA?

The WBS MBA has attendance courses which include business simulation, group dynamics, personal leadership and social responsibility; core courses include accounting and finance, economics for business, human resource management, marketing management, operations management, ethics, sustainability and governance.

In a similar vein, the GIBS generalist MBA exposes students to all the disciplines of business as well as several compulsory electives such as sustainability, business ethics, and leadership.

GIBS’s entrepreneurship MBA places additional focus on entrepreneurial development, looking at elements such as business finance – as opposed to corporate finance. “Once students have completed the course, they have all the tools they need to start business,”says Chengadu.

“It’s not only about the formal curriculum, but also about aspects such as networks, mentors, venture capitalists, angel investors, small business units at banks, and exposure to a range of successful entrepreneurs. GIBS’s generalist MBA programme is offered over two years. Because the pressure is intense, students learn to handle stress and perform at a high level. “You cannot learn about pressure without being exposed to it.”

WBS has been ranked for a number of years by the Professional Management Review as the leading business school in Africa and had its MBA degree ranked number one in the Financial Mail for the sixth consecutive year. “Lecturers on the programme are known for their outstanding teaching abilities, business and research experience,” says Koyana. “But the student mix is just as important as the syllabus. Our students benefit not only from the school‘s outstanding local and international lecturers but also from the wealth of experience and viewpoints brought to the classroom.”

WBS takes an interactive approach to management education, the goal being to empower people to handle business challenges both locally and internationally. “The case study teaching methodology creates the space for students to exercise analytical and decision-making skills and at the same time encourages students to respect differing opinions, challenge their own thinking and question conventional wisdom.”

Global Perspectives

The GIBS MBA includes a global elective which is a compulsory ten-day programme that gives students a choice of travelling to India, China, South America, and the East or West Coast of the US, providing them with the opportunity to benchmark their skills at a global level.WBS has a student exchange programmewith business schools throughout the world.

“One of the electives offered on the WBS MBA is an international study tour,” Koyana adds. “The visits expose students to leading companies in the countries visited, and develop an appreciation of their economies. UCT GSB aims to be a leader in management development and applied research in emerging markets.

“We consider this emerging market distinctiveness as a real strength which the school is well placed to develop further,” says Ryan. “We have one of the most internationally diverse MBAs in the country. The importance of this for ensuring our students attain an MBA that is globally relevant and recognised cannot be underestimated.”

UCT GSB students can apply to spend a semester at an international university – the UCT GSB has exchange programme links with 27 international business schools.“The exchange allows students the opportunity to study and live in a different environment and to gain a fresh perspective on their development,”says Ryan.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs

As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.

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Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.

“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.

“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”

Taking on a new era

The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.

“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.

“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.

“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”

JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.

“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.

“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”

Related: The Art Of Storytelling: Johannesburg Business School Launches Its Executive Training Programmes

Depth and creativity

Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.

“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.

“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.

Bringing world-class education to Africa

“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.

“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.

“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”

Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:

Programmes:

  • Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)

Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.

  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)

Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.

  • Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)

The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.

  • Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)

Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.

Master Classes: 

  • Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)

Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.

  • Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)

Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.

  • Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)

Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.

  • Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)

Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.

  • Innovation Series (12 Mar)

Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.

  • HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)

The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.

For more information and to register please visit our website www.jbs.ac.za or Email us on ExecEd@jbs.ac.za

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English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?

We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.

Wits Language School

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Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.

Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.

South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.

Related: Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!

In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors:  the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener.  Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.

Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:

Communicative Grammar Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?

Join our Communicative Grammar course.

English Speaking and Pronunciation Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?

Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.

Business Writing Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?

Join our Business Writing Skills course

Presentation Skills Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?

Join our Presentation Skills course.

Report Writing Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?

Join our Report Writing course.

English for Critical Thinking in Business Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?

Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.

 

Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.

Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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