1. What does the HENLEY “brand” represent?
We build the people who build the businesses who build Africa, which is about making world class education accessible by believing in people and teaching them to believe in their own potential.
2. What is unique about HENLEY?
We’re activists. We push people hard, to get them to think about their roles in business. At the same time, we are pushing our faculty as hard to evolve as quickly. What’s unique about Henley is that it’s a place where people want to be.
3. What does innovation mean to HENLEY?
Innovation means taking a very tough look at what we are doing and bashing through the inhibitions of the past when the past becomes a barrier to our progress. We take the best from those genes and evolve them. It’s about creative disruption for the benefit of our students, in a cycle of endless restless improvement.
4. How do you measure achievement?
We measure it in multiple ways. The most satisfying is people telling us how Henley changed their lives. It’s the openness with which people share their experiences and, if necessary, criticise us. Another measurement is the steady growth in students progressing up our ladder of learning and the amount of repeat work we get from our corporate clients looking for executive education programmes.
5. To create trust in the abilities of HENLEY, what would you like to communicate to existing and potential students, as well as international investors/role players and stakeholders?
We deeply believe in the intrinsic ability of education to change power relations. We adopt unequivocal stances on hard issues like race, poverty or sexual orientation because of the damage the institutionalised discrimination in each has wrought on individuals, preventing them from achieving their full potential.
6. On which core values do you manage HENLEY?
Purpose. Candour. Empathy. Implacable Determination.
7. What aspect contributes most to HENLEY’s reputation?
The absolutely amazing things that people say about us.
8. What is HENLEY’s view on ethics in the business world and workplace
Ethics is a lifelong journey of practice, self-reflection and improvement, which we are committed to in our own space. We try to help others do the same for themselves, by making people seeing the causality of their decisions and how bad behaviour – in government or in the boardroom – collapses nations.
9. What were tough times, tough decisions and how were they overcome?
Because we bootstrapped ourselves to where we are, we use resourcefulness rather than resources. It’s been a wonderful journey because it has made us strong, but it’s exhausting too.
10. How do you ensure excellent and professional service by your staff/personnel?
We try to operate as transparently as possible and we encourage our team to be brave enough to make mistakes. Our only rule is that they don’t hide them, because if we miss those, we don’t just compromise ourselves, we lose the opportunity to grow and to learn.
11. What programmes do you offer?
We have instituted a ladder of learning with accredited courses that take you from NQF level 3 all the way through to our flagship triple accredited, international Master of Business Administration degree, but we also have a host of online and virtual programmes that we have been developing and even more short courses that we are conceptualising that address everything from successfully running SMEs to agricultural management.
12. How do you acknowledge and motivate your staff?
Over and above the usual methods of acknowledgement through praise and incentives like rewards and scrupulously thanking them, we try to give them jobs that are hard and that will stretch them, because we believe in their ability to do it – even when sometimes they might doubt themselves.
13. How do you ensure that your staff is well prepared/trained?
We have a culture of free training and free education at Henley, it’s mandatory for staff to use the opportunity to improve their qualifications. We expect to grow as an institution and we expect our staff to grow with us too. There’s also our culture of transparency, which allows us to catch problems as they develop and learn.
14. What is your talent management philosophy?
It’s not to manage talent, but to ignite it. We obviously have the traditional HR processes and talent acquisition and retention policies but in truth we find good people, we let them take accountability and we find ways to stretch them so that they can grow by learning to believe in themselves.
15. What are your key strategic drivers?
o make our reality our friend, to notice what is going on do what we can to create a better country for this generation and those who come after, narrowing the Gini coefficient each time.
16. What sets HENLEY apart from other similar institutions? What do you do differently? What bigger challenges do you master?
We don’t try to compete, on the contrary we prefer to collaborate. When we pivoted to virtual teaching before the lockdown, we immediately offered to help any other institution transition. Rather than asking what sets us apart, perhaps the question is what brings us together, which is a desire to help shape the framework that will allow all of us to deliver great education. As such, I serve as Vice Chair of the South African Business Schools Association. Further proof of collaborative passion is EFMD Excellence in Practice Gold Award for Executive Development, which we won with GIBS and Standard Bank – the first team to ever to do that in Africa.
17. How do you ensure “customer” satisfaction?
You can never ensure customer satisfaction all the time. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t. We never hide things though. The key is to never step away from our own accountability and always to do our best.
18. How does HENLEY stay ahead of its competitors?
We are far more interested in helping our ‘competitors’, because when we help them, we help ourselves by improving education and we both grow.
19. How does HENLEY ensure good sustainable development practises?
Sustainability is key to what we do: from teaching it in our programmes and researching it through bespoke institutions like Henley EARTH (Environmental Activism through Research and Training @Henley) as well as questioning the fundamental precepts of stakeholder capitalism.
20. What systems have you put in place to manage HENLEY as a world class institution?
Systems thinking informs and infuses everything we do at Henley. We have an ongoing loop where people are learning from one another in an environment of often brutal candour. We have also tried to keep true to our original entrepreneurial spirit as Henley Africa which ensures that we are agile and perennially alert to changing circumstances. Pivoting to virtual learning ahead of the COVID 19 lockdown also allowed us to evolve a virtual management system, a learning management platform and a virtual sales and marketing mechanism, while conceptualising and developing new learning programmes.
21. How can HENLEY contribute to and enhance, and develop SA’s corporate competitiveness globally?
This is fundamental to what we do, but it’s not about global competitiveness but rather global capability. Our contribution to that process will be to teach learning through action; building people’s capacity to unlock their resourcefulness, to be unafraid of change, to learn in real time, to be agile and to work with others. In a fast-changing world that’s your competitive advantage, creating value not reinventing the wheel.
22. How do you ensure good Corporate Governance?
The key to good corporate governance is to understand the long-term consequences to the business in terms of reputational and other damage at the expense of short-term profit chasing. that drags everyone down with it.
23. What is HENLEY doing to improve the quality of life of communities in SA in terms of poverty alleviation, fighting HIV/AIDS and other socio-economic issues?
The biggest thing we are doing is developing really good education. We have the largest MBA scholarship programme on the continent which is entirely self-funded. We have actively reached out to non-traditional MBA students, especially in the creative sector; artists, entertainers, musicians and media, to provide them with the necessary education to ensure their sectors remain viable and employ even more people. Over and above that we run MBAid, where we support more than 350 NGOs with top class executive assistance that they would never otherwise be able to access. We also make a special effort to reach out to the hidden heroes in communities and give them the skills that they can use to change their own lives and others.
24. What is your vision for HENLEY?
That Henley can foment positive sustained change in an otherwise toxic and negative environment by teaching people to believe in themselves when society has tried to do the opposite, so that those people can be catalysts for change by achieving their potential.
25. Where will HENLEY be in five years’ time?
Hopefully doing even more and even better in a kinder, fairer, more sustainable society.