Despite holding a PhD in computer science, Dr Thulani Phakathi found himself going back to school – only this time it was to business school – as...
On the pathway to management mastery
Having moved into a sales role, when sports science graduate Nantus Grobler was ready to build his management competence, Henley Africa was his first choice. I have a sports science degree from the university of Pretoria and that’s where my career began before I moved into…
I have a sports science degree from the University of Pretoria and that's where my career began before I moved into the sales environment, selling structural heart devices. Sports Science was an obvious study choice for me because I come from a sporting family. I played professional tennis, and my dad was heavily involved in rugby.
My interest in business emerged after I had been head-hunted by a multinational company to work in the vascular space. My mentor told me to go and study further and that the company would cover the costs. He sculpted all my energy into a specific direction within the field of business and he was also the one who recommended Henley Africa to me. And once I investigated what the school had to offer, I didn’t need to look any further. A key attraction was that they were offering a clear pathway, with programmes starting at the level I was, and allowing me to ascend the ladder of learning at my own pace.
I’ve been studying at Henley Africa for three years straight now. I started off with the Higher Certificate In Management Practice, and then moved on to the Advanced Certificate In Management Practice in year two and now I’m doing the Advanced Diploma In Management Practice. Who knows, maybe I will keep going all the way up the ladder to the MBA.
I had thought I was done with studying for the rest of my life but once I got back into the classroom and started doing assignments, I found it very interactive and immediately discovered that I could use a lot of what was covered in the course for the stretch assignments needed in my workplace.
Before I started at Henley I was worried that I would fail, simply because I had been so focused on the clinical aspects of my field. Upon reflection I think this was the fear of the unknown and the fear that I would not be able to do what was required of me. I soon realised my fears were unfounded, and the supportive environment and focus on developing confidence and self-awareness really helped here.
Some classes are tougher than others and while I may not always want to complete my assignments, studying has never felt like a burden. The finance aspects of the courses have been hugely beneficial because I don’t have a business or maths background. I found them daunting initially but the way the facilitators explained everything and made the concepts practical and understandable boosted my confidence.
One of the most memorable things about my first year was the awesome lunches. I made the food at Henley the topic of a reflection paper in my first year. I even wrote a song about it.
I’ve applied what I’ve been taught into my workplace systematically and it’s made a massive impact. I’ve shifted from something I thought I loved (sales) to something I really love (business) and that couldn’t have happened without Henley.
My studies don’t take up all my time! I play the guitar, piano and drums and this year I bought a tenor saxophone. Mastering it ties in with my motto to never stop learning but it has caused some arguments at home. I was in the habit of practising in the kitchen, but my wife was having none of it – she said I sounded like a screeching cat, and she was worried about what the neighbours would think. Fortunately we moved house recently and now I have a studio out near the garage where I can play to my heart’s content.