HENLEY Business School Africa’s first ever virtual MBA exchange is underway. It’s the latest innovation by the business school which was the first on the continent to transition to fully virtual learning and teaching before South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
“The exchange programme is just one of the by-products of our incredible international network of faculty, students and alumni,” says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley.
The exchange was made possible by his relationship with the dean of the Malta Business School (MBS), Lorenzo Mule` Stagno, explains MBS training programme coordinator Sabina Sarvuta.
“Henley is all about networking and learning through relationships. The two deans looked at different options and how this could work. The pandemic actually made it work for us.”
The programme was initially launched in March, but due to technical teething problems was rescheduled for a proper launch in July. The uptake this time was immediate, with three students in the first week from the Mediterranean country who were joined by another 10 of their colleagues the following week, all from a business school that only has one class of 20 Henley MBA students a year. Their enthusiasm has been matched by Henley Africa’s current MBA class.
Not all of the Maltese attendees are MBA students, some are MBA graduates.
Josianne Gerada is one of them.
“I had a gap in my career due to COVID-19, so I really wanted the MBA engagement to keep on track,” she says.
Her MBA changed her entire career path. After working in Malta’s pharma sector for 15 years, her Henley MBA opened her eyes to a strength and potential within her that she hadn’t fully realised before; working with people. She changed careers entirely to Human Resources, but then the pandemic hit.
The exchange programme has been very important, she says.
“I enjoy the different way of thinking and (having done the work before) I’m remembering the modules. Now I am seeing everything from a different perspective. I’m resetting myself.”
Banker Nkeku Mothoa from Henley Africa’s MBA class feels exactly the same way about the exchange.
“An emailer was sent out with the opportunity and I thought why not,” says Mothoa, “We get many global lecturers and through Henley’s global network, we can travel to fellow countries. I didn’t want to lose that global exposure in the lockdown.”
Finance is a universal language, she discovered.
“Money is money, process is process, and whilst each country has its own challenges, it was great to have that levelling factor in the classroom. It’s obviously great to be able to be catapulted into multinational education.”
The exchange is a formal process, explains Sarvuta, consisting of seven workshops on different aspects of the MBA journey throughout the rest of the year, some taking place over two or three days, others only a single day.
“There are discussions, presentations and a lot of group work in the break-out rooms where the networking takes place.
“Based on what the students tell me, it’s about the networking opportunities and the exchanging of experiences.
“They are finding out that the techniques, tools and frameworks are exactly the same in completely different countries, it’s fascinating.”
“Such experiences enrich our students’ knowledge and are a wonderful opportunity for them to network with like-minded business professionals following the Henley MBA in Africa. During these challenging and restricted times, this exchange initiative is truly a positive outcome from the pandemic.” concludes Mule` Stagno.
For Foster-Pedley, it’s proof yet again of the universality of the Henley experience.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet one another like this and an example of the networking potential of the alumni family of more than 80 000 Henley graduates in more than 170 countries that they will become part of when they ultimately graduate.
“COVID-19 has proved to be the greatest stress test, any of us have ever experienced, but it’s also opened doors to opportunities some of us could never have imagined beforehand. This virtual exchange programme is just one of them. I can’t wait to see how it develops in the years to come.”
Henley Business School Africa is a leading global business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds elite triple international accreditation; has the number 1 business school alumni network in the world for potential to network (Economist 2017); and is the number 1 African-accredited and -campused business school in the world for executive education (FT 2018, 2020), as well as the number 1 MBA business school in South Africa as rated by corporate SA (PMR.Africa 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021).