by Caro Malherbe and Shandukani Mulaudzi
After the resignation of Professor Wendy Ngoma, Director of the Wits Business School (WBS), Professor Adam Habib plans to fix the leadership “crisis” in order to restore the school to its former glory.
Habib said it was imperative to fix leadership first before trying to fix structural challenges, enrollment and reputation.[pullquote]“It is no longer the number one school and that is not acceptable. We cannot have a situation where the number one school is not in the heart of the economy.”[/pullquote]
“To fix a problem, you first need to fix the leadership. Because you can have the best structure in the world but if you have the wrong leaders, it’s not going to work.”
No longer number one
Habib said the school was number one in the country a few years ago but has lost its place and that needed to change.
“It is no longer the number one school and that is not acceptable. We cannot have a situation where the number one school is not in the heart of the economy.”
Ngoma resigned earlier this month leaving the school without leadership. Habib said he was shocked as they had discussed her plans to resign however prior to her announcement there had been no formal agreement. “It took me by surprise when she announced it to the school and didn’t talk to me first because we wanted to manage the news flow around the issue.”
[pullquote align=”right”]“It hasn’t been able to keep its directors, its directors hasn’t found it to be a happy place, staff are unhappy as such.”[/pullquote]Wits Vuvuzela previously reported that leadership problems had contributed to the loss of MBA enrollment which the communications manager Jackie Mapiloko denied.
Habib however, said leadership was a crisis before Ngoma’s tenure and still continues to be. “I can say that we have had a problem with leadership, and it’s not only Wendy’s fault. I think that the problem with the business school is that it has had a leadership crisis for a number of years.
“It hasn’t been able to keep its directors, its directors hasn’t found it to be a happy place, staff are unhappy as such.”
MBA enrollment- A “technical glitch”
Habib blamed the low number of MBA student enrollment on a “technical glitch” but said lack of leadership led to the issue being insufficiently handled. He said WBS will not lose its international accreditation as enrollment numbers cannot affect accreditation based on a single year.
WBS has complained about there being a lack of autonomy from the main university when it comes to making decisions and financial management. Habib said the right leader is first needed before discussions of autonomy can be held. “Find the right leader. Then we’ll benchmark the autonomy required for this school compared to all the other business schools in the country and in the world and we’ll implement.”
The business school will be searching for candidates both locally and globally to fill the directorship over the next two weeks.
THE REPUTATION of the Wits Business School (WBS) may be in danger following reports the school may lose its accreditation due to a lack of full-time MBA students.
Last week, the Financial Mail published an opinion article that said there were only 14 full-time MBA students at the school, below the required 20 needed to maintain its international accreditation with the Association of MBAs (AMBA).
The main reason cited for the drop in enrolment was blamed on Wits taking over administrative affairs at WBS and incorporating WBS enrolment into its central enrolment system.
However, the problem of poor enrolment may even be worse than first reported.
[pullquote]”As far as I am concerned, there are even fewer people in that class. The article said 14, I know there are less.”[/pullquote]”As far as I am concerned, there are even fewer people in that class. The article said 14, I know there are less,” said Rabelani Dagada, a lecturer at WBS.
“I do not agree that these issues can be attributed to administrative issues. I don’t buy that at all. This is a matter of leadership. If you are a good business school, you are a good business school. People will know,” Dagada said.
Wits Vuvuzela approached WBS head of school Wendy Ngoma for comment but did not receive a response before going to press.
Luzuko Ndzuta, a full-time MBA student who spoke to Wits Vuvuzela, agreed that the WBS administration being taken over by the main Wits administration may have contributed to the fall in applications.
“The administration is pathetic, I mean lecturers joke about it but I mean it’s a serious problem and if you have been a Witsie for quite some time you will know that this did not start now. It has been a matter for years,” Ndzuta said.
Other students however, said the reports that the MBA was at risk of losing its accreditation were taken out of context and “premature”.
[pullquote align=”right”]It’s put out of perspective, there is no chance of the school losing its accreditation.”[/pullquote]
“It’s put out of perspective, there is no chance of the school losing its accreditation,” full-time MBA student Herina Vlachos said.
Lynneth Petersen, a fellow classmate said it was important that people know there are three MBA classes at WBS and that the two part-time classes have about 50 or more students each.
“That was a very important fact that those articles left out,” Petersen said.
“They [the media] saw a gap, and they exploited it,” said Vlachos.
According to the guidelines given by AMBA, each MBA class must have a minimum of 20 students in order to achieve: “adequate group interaction”.
Petersen said regardless of the small class size she had no doubt in the education they were receiving.
Although some students said they were not worried about their qualification, Ndzuta said the controversy was damaging to the reputation of the degree.
[pullquote]“As a prospective student, when you have to go out and start looking for a job, this is not good for your confidence if your degree is in question.”[/pullquote]
Ndzuta said businesses look for “reputable brands” and would not care about reasons for the problems.
“The end market doesn’t look at those nitty gritties, they look at the headlines,” said Ndzuta.
From left to right: WBS Director and Head of School Professor Wendy Ngoma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib. Photo: Nokuthula Manyathi
By Ray Mahlaka and Nokuthula Manyathi
SOUTH Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is trying to find remedies for the country’s socio-economic problem.
He addressed the Wits Business School (WBS) Alumni annual general meeting yesterday.
Motlanthe was joined by the incoming Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib and WBS Director and Head of School Professor Wendy Ngoma.
Habib, in his introduction, said Motlanthe was a thoughtful leader who governed with integrity.
“The one [Motlanthe] I would regard as the one with the greatest integrity. Few politicians are as liked and respected and are willing to engage,” added Habib.
In his address Motlanthe wanted to interact with the audience; to find out how South African citizens could heal all aspects of the country for the sake of their future and economy.
Economic dilemma, labour productivity, universities and development ambitions
Motlanthe raised the following questions: “What is the nature of our current economic dilemma, how can our nation improve labour productivity, what role can the universities play in South Africa’s development ambitions, can the private sector do more than it’s currently doing to help South Africa achieve the set goals?”
Unemployment, poverty and inequality were considered by Motlanthe as a “triple challenge” to the government’s development goals.[pullquote]“The Deputy President doesn’t want to lecture, but facilitate a debate and a conversation”[/pullquote]
He also argued that the shadow of apartheid had not fully receded in South Africa.
On the current economic climate, Motlanthe said there was little investment in new production and that South Africa was becoming a consumer economy.
“We are disindustrialising…labour productivity has declined by 42% since 1993,” said Motlanthe.
The decline in labour productivity was a point of concern to Motlanthe because he considered labour production as the fundamental ingredient to economic growth.
Solutions to South Africa’s socio-economic problems
In trying to find effective solutions Motlanthe supported the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) and also suggested greater investment into the education system.
“The NDP has been accepted as the roadmap to growth in South Africa and laid out the parameters to contribute to a shared vision,” said Motlanthe.
He also said the long-term solutions to our socio economic problems were based on having a sound education system.
“Universities are well positioned to contribute to South African challenges. Universities must become the core of innovation. We need closer ties between universities and government,” Motlanthe said.
As part of creating effective solutions Motlanthe urged the private sector to be more involved in mentorship and in social development programmes.
“More than any point in our history does the private sector have more to contribute,” he said.
In his closing remarks Motlanthe said continuing conversations between South African citizens and the government were the stepping stones to finding long-term solutions.
Habib said the aim of hosting the WBS forum was to create a free space where members of corporate, [Wits] staff and student community can engage with the Deputy President on the broader issues currently plaguing the country.
“The Deputy President doesn’t want to lecture, but facilitate a debate and a conversation…We will never address problems unless we learn to talk openly beyond institutional boundaries,” said Habib.