From Africa to the world

In Henley Business School Africa, alumnus Alvin Kalideen says he found a perfect match. The business school expanded his horizons mentally at the exact time he was moving into a continent-wide role. “The next career currency is knowing how to work in a global context and Henley gave me that,” he comments.

Alvin Kalideen had always been determined to stay relevant in his career and believes in the power of education to do so.

That hasn’t always been easy. He studied electronic engineering at the Durban University of Technology in 2002 but has barely worked in that field since. Instead, he found a job as an operations intern at the South African Post Office for a while before moving into a related field that would become his métier – supply chain management.

Over the next few years, he would cement his credentials in the field as he moved through the ranks at various companies and across a range of sectors – RPC Astrapak, Shell, Steinhoff International, Nampak (twice), Samsung South Africa, Schneider Electric and Xylem Inc. Kalideen complemented his on-the-job experience with studies in logistics via UNISA while with Astrapak.

Not surprising then, that he followed the same approach as he started taking on more leadership roles. To ensure he had a better understanding of the demands of leadership, he embarked on “an intense General Management Development Programme” offered to High Performing Nampak Managers through the GIBS Business School in Johannesburg. Later, encouraged by a mentor who had studied there, he signed up for an Advanced Diploma in Management Practice at Henley Business School Africa, part of the University of Reading in the UK.

“There had been a change in the way I was thinking about my career,” he says of that period.

That “change” was sparked by the mentors he’d been fortunate to find. “They saw me as high potential and pushed me to expand my skills,” he recalls. “I remember one mentor telling me, ‘You have the potential to lead not just on a local level but at the international level. So, think about expanding your horizons.’”

In Henley, Kalideen found a business school with a worldview that gelled with his broadening ambit. The course opened up his horizons mentally at the exact time that his role as a Senior Supply Chain Manager for Xylem Africa had seen his horizons expand geographically as his remit went from the national to the continental level.

“Henley gave me the global context, even though it was very focused on African ecosystems,” he observes. “It asked you to think about how we develop Africa, how we contribute, and how we encourage business across the different countries.”

Classes were presented with multiple scenarios, for instance, illustrating the challenges facing African different economies, and looked at case studies of how entrepreneurs developed innovative strategies to overcome those obstacles. In addition, they explored ecosystem mapping models that looked at the interrelationships between different components in economies.

It was learning that easily translated into his workplace at his new job as Head of Sourcing (for Southern Africa) at Sandvik, the Global Mining Technology company he joined in 2022. At the time of his training, he was working on a collaborative project for different territories in Africa, a project that involved multiple stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, communities and government.

“I was able to apply the ecosystems relationships model to map the stakeholders and mutual exchange,” he says. “And from the entrepreneurship and innovation models, I was able to apply strategies previously tested to provide solutions to my organisation’s project.

Kalideen’s expanding experience in leadership and logistics has led to other opportunities too. Notably, the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) appointed him as a member of the Academic Advisory Board for its Supply Chain Programmes in May 2023. His first foray into academia has, in turn, presented him with new insights into supply chains, he says.

TUT’s stakeholders include students from its surrounding communities, and those communities themselves. “I’m used to working within the external global context, but now I’m learning to work within the external local context,” he says.

Inspired by his first Henley experience, Kalideen is currently considering further studies at the business school to continue to burnish his leadership and management credentials.

“The next career currency is knowing how to work in a global context,” he says. “Henley prepared me for that and helped me understand how to stay relevant. Now, that is really the challenge facing anyone in the workplace.”

Henley's SOAR! programme is an Advanced Diploma in Management Practice that is equivalent to an undergraduate degree. There are multiple intake dates for 2024. 

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