Rohan Daya: “I never thought I was the bookish type”

Rohan feared that postgraduate studies were all about endless hours of dry texts, but was surprised at the relevance that Henley studies have to his workplace situation.

Rohan Daya has spent his last three years of study completing his Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip). Interestingly, Rohan was never much of an academic to start with. But the opportunity presented itself for him to do this postgraduate programme, which he ultimately decided to do at Henley Business School Africa: “It opened up my mind completely. Within that first year, I met a number of entrepreneurs that I doubt I’d ever have encountered under normal circumstances”.

Never having been the bookish type, the prospect of undergoing postgraduate studies that required “tons and tons of reading” was quite daunting for Rohan. These fears were unfounded, however, and Rohan found the learning style at Henley to be easy and compelling – to the degree that he ultimately decided to move forward with an MBA.

Having been enriched by the business school environment, with its stimulating, involving workshop structure, choosing to stay with Henley, over the equivalent university course was a no-brainer for him: “It gave me the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs; to network with like-minded business individuals.” Despite the suffocating restrictions of the lockdown environment visited upon us by Covid-19, he discovered that he could work the virtual aspect of business communications to his advantage. There’s no doubt, after all, that even once social movements have eased up, the virtual component of business is here to stay.

He also realised that the practical aspect that business school always emphasises is the key to success: “Studying is great, but if you aren’t constantly learning how to apply this to real-life situations, then you’ll never get anywhere. The course here at Henley always guides you, as far as bringing these teachings to everyday situations.”

The Self-Mastery component of Henley’s postgraduate courses has been a critical component of how Rohan looks at life. He’s come to realise that most of us let life simply flow past us, without being conscious of what we’ve achieved, what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained – the highs and the lows. The course, has, however, enabled him to stop, consider, and take stock. He’s realised that, only by being cognisant of what has passed, can we effectively move forward. University courses, it’s found, tend to focus narrowly on the academic elements of their courses, whilst overlooking the crucial personal elements that drive failure or success.

Personal development and self-reflection was something that Rohan had never paid particular attention to previously. “I’ve become a lot more aware of what I do and how I do it. Self-reflection’s become a big part of my journey, and it comes into play with my daily interactions with individuals, when I’m mentoring, and in my communication with my two daughters. It’s a journey that I’ve shared with them, which I believe has enriched us all – sit back and reflect on where you’re heading.”

“I use each weekend,” he says, “To reflect on the week that has passed, and also plan on the week that’s to come. What have I learnt this past week, and how do I take that forward? Henley’s modules have developed my self-mastery to a degree that I hadn’t previously imagined possible.”

It so happens that Rohan started a new job in the midst of the pandemic, and having to engage remotely was initially quite a challenge for him. At this time, he found that the strategy block of his MBA course was the lodestone that guided him through such a hurdle. “It helped me to see things through a different lens. I would go as far as saying that the strategy block was my biggest take-away from the course.”
Henley’s workshop approach to the learning process has also introduced a new element to Rohan’s approach to business, and that’s collaboration. “I’ve had the good fortune to be exposed to lots of stimulating mentors amongst my colleagues. Of course, it’s important to have the academic accreditation that’s sought in the business field, but being exposed to people and concepts that one wouldn’t ordinarily have encountered, is a very powerful plus. And the process doesn’t stop there because I, in turn, am able to share what I learn with others.”

Rohan appreciates the dramatic difference between fulltime learning and adult learning. In the case of the former, one has the luxury of having only one’s studies to focus on. With adult learning, however, one has to juggle studies with work, and then (in cases such as his) family, too. Here again, he was relieved that the course style at Henley enabled him to funnel all three channels into one smooth flow. “It’s a question of what needs to be prioritised at each given moment.”

Slipping an MBA into one’s CV is an achievement on its own, but to think that Rohan managed to tick this vital box during the lockdown environment, is a credit not only to himself, but to the business school environment, which focuses on individuals and their needs, strengths and weaknesses, and keeps them in a feedback loop as to where they are at any particular point, and where they need to get from there.

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