Taking off the technical goggles

The technical manager at Micros South Africa, Alvin Rich has always been able to answer cyber-related questions with ease. But please don’t ask him a question about finance, or worse still, a personal question! But this is changing. Now, halfway through his PGDip at Henley Africa, he says he has gained a holistic worldview that empowers him to answer the personal questions and other business questions with confidence too – and people in his workplace are noticing.

I work for a company called Micros South Africa. We’re the hospitality division of Adapt IT, a company that does most of the hospitality IT infrastructure in South Africa. We supply hotels, bars, and restaurants with hospitality solutions, stock control, point-of-sale systems – all those kinds of things. If you’ve ever been to a KFC or Nando’s, the chances are you’ve come across our work!

My role at work is typically quite technical – but at Henley I’ve learned to take those technical goggles off. I decided to study at Henley because I want to expand into the business aspects of my work. I’ve learned quite a lot so far. For instance, the financial part of our company wasn’t always my strong suit, and I wanted to improve my ability in that area. I’d usually just indicate that a piece of work would cost X amount of money and take X number of hours. Now I look at it as a whole – I look at the cost, whether we’ll profit, the amount we’re spending on labour, shortfalls – all of it – and perform my analysis from there.

But the business and financial sides are only a part of what I love about studying at Henley. My favourite aspect of the PGDip has to be the personal mastery. Besides just looking back on your business and your journey through your work life, you also do a lot of personal reflection. You gain insights into who you are, where you need to be, and the changes that you need to make.

As a result of this introspection, I’ve learned to be more malleable – when you’re in a technical role, you see things in codes, in ones and zeros. That’s it. It doesn’t change. I used to just be given a task and then do it – but now I’m examining things a bit more deeply. I ask, why are we looking at this problem in particular? What’s the customer service value? Is this something worth solving? The holistic worldview, I think, has been one of my greatest personal changes – and people at work have noticed.

I’d normally just join technical meetings – but that’s changed. Because of the work I’ve been doing during my PGDip, I’m now able to give additional work-related insights in meetings. Whether it’s project management, financial management, account management – I have significantly more know-how now. And better yet, what I’ve been suggesting at work is actually being implemented – people are using my solutions! That’s been great.

I have the PGDip and the assignments to thank for my personal and professional developments. The reflective paper, in particular, helps you to see so much. You see the effects your life has really had on you. You know, you’re journeying from your childhood to where you are now and taking note of how the way you grew up affects you today, developed you, impacted your psyche, how you perceive things. For some of us, for example, if you had a hard childhood, you bring that hardness with you into the world, into work. And the paper lets you note this and process it and identify the pros and the cons of that disposition and how you can use it most effectively at work. You learn how to adapt what you’ve got. It’s affirming and rewarding.

Overall, the immersion into the PGDip has been unforgettable. Even though I have been taking my classes online, I’ve still found the course to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And for that reason I’ve been completely engrossed by it. I’d recommend people taking the programme do that, too. Don’t sit back and be silent. Contribute and participate, because that’s the best way to learn. Whether your answer’s wrong or not, it doesn’t matter. Just ask the question. In the end, it’s about developing yourself.

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