24 February 2021, Johannesburg, South Africa. MARTIJN Slager is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. A marketer and salesperson in a career that spans both FMCG and higher education across countries and two continents, he wants to sell the concept of lifelong learning.
He practices what he preaches: he spent lockdown finishing his MBA degree. Now he’s begun the next chapter of his career: as head of sales for Henley Business School Africa.
“I wanted to join Henley Africa, because I was excited about its international reputation and because I have a passion for education. I’ve been here since the beginning of February and it’s been everything I hoped it would be: the business is agile and innovative and there’s a very real passion for people, both internally and externally.”
Slager, who is from the Netherlands, came to South Africa in 1997 after graduating with his BA (Hons) in marketing management from Saxion University of Applied Sciences. He spent 17 years in the FMCG sector in South Africa and in Malta and Cyprus before transitioning to private higher education in 2014 when he joined Monash South Africa, first as sales director and later as head of sales and marketing.
It was a seminal moment.
“I came to a crossroads in my life,” he explains, “I realised I wanted to make a lasting impact on people’s lives. In the FMCG world, you can sell a person a chocolate and sell them another one an hour later. In the world of education, it’s about selling a journey of lifelong learning, because in this day and age knowledge doubles every day and all of us need to upskill continuously.”
At Henley Africa, Slager hopes to impact lives by growing the business through growing access to the school’s unique ladder of learning that culminates in South Africa’s only locally offered internationally recognised executive MBA.
“ It’s the flywheel effect; if people become educated and prosper their communities prosper. If the community prospers, the country prospers. It really is about building the people who will build the businesses and organisations that will build Africa,” he says.
For Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, Slager’s appointment is part of the school’s ongoing evolution.
“We’ve been growing exponentially over the last 10 years, but the pandemic provided the opportunity for us to take our growth to the next level. We entered an incredibly fertile time developing new programmes and courses especially relevant to the challenges the world finds itself in currently – and we’ve managed to attract first class staff who really want to be part of the Henley Africa experience and contribute to that journey.
“Martijn is perfect proof of just that, a head of sales with his own MBA degree going out to evangelise the need for executive education – holding the very degree he is marketing. It’s yet another aspect of what makes the Henley Africa experience unique, we use the same tools we teach to improve ourselves and to build our community – and our continent.”
For Slager, the key to his success will be building relationships: “what I do is sell partnerships; between institutions for their staff and with individual students. You want them to keep coming back to Henley Africa as their trusted partner to help and guide them as their lives evolve.”
- 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).