I am more of a leader than a manager


BSN alumnus, Abednigo Motsopi, recently published his first book. ‘The MBA made me understand the deep meaning of determination and taught me to persevere’

‘The most valuable and greatest insight to me is the mantra: “Nothing is impossible”. Just to quote the global icon, Tata Mandela, ‘It may seem impossible, until it’s done.’ BSN chats to 50-year old Abednigo Motsopi from South Africa, one of our inspiring alumni who graduated with his Action Learning MBA in 2008. ‘The MBA made me understand the deep meaning of determination and taught me to persevere. ‘Kodumela moepa thotse…’is my father tongue’s cliché, which sank deeper in my vocabulary during both the MBA and the book writing. ‘

BSN Alumnus Abednigo Motsopi MBAAbednigo was born 50 years ago in Vosloorus township, which is part of Ekurhuleni Municipality-formerly called East Rand. ‘Christian by upbringing, a politician by baptism, an author by inclination and an academic by inspiration,’ is how Abednigo defines himself. ‘I grew up in this area, married in the same area and am blessed with two boys and two girls. Politics flows in my blood; not sure if this was a result of the prejudices one was exposed to at an early age or was it by choice? I am not sure. I started political activism since the age of 18 years. My highest academic achievement is an MBA degree; an extremely valuable academic qualification, especially when it was acquired from BSN. The rest of my interesting background is contained in the book I have just published titled: Obscure Revolution – An Appreciative Perspective.’

Abednigo’s career started at Wits workers school where he volunteered as a literacy teacher. He then worked in NGOs/NPOs but continued with teaching, lectured at DAMELIN College and did OD consultancy work. ‘I had a brief stint in the private sector, which I didn’t really enjoy. After that, I worked as a politician/councilor at the City of Ekurhuleni. Currently I am an administrative official in the same municipality.’

What was your main motivation to register for the MBA in 2003?
‘I was mainly motivated to register for an MBA to enhance my writing skills and secondly to broaden my analytical skills in the public and business arena. However, I shall be doing an injustice if I don’t acknowledge the opportunity I was given by the City of Ekurhuleni. The municipality offered this opportunity which I didn’t hesitate to grab with both hands and I made sure to clutch it until it cried for mercy, then I let it loose in 2008 when I graduated.’

How did you find the program? Did the MBA live up to your expectations?
‘The Action Learning approach is the most powerful method of learning I had come across. Despite the ‘all sweat, blood and tears’ described by the late Prof Seaman-our Set Advisor, the program lived up to my expectations.’

Has the MBA in any way impacted or influenced your career in terms of career moves, promotion or other changes?
‘The impact of the MBA qualification is always demonstrated through the ease with which one is able to analyse and critique a variety of subjects inherent in my daily work as a municipality official. One always delights at making comparative studies between the public and the private sector’s operational terrains. Since the acquisition of the MBA degree, I moved from middle management in the municipality to a senior position which placed me as a senior administrative advisor in the office of the City Manager.’

How has the MBA influenced you as a person and as manager?
‘Indeed the MBA influenced and enhanced my acumen as a manager, but I must hasten to emphasise that it influenced me more as a leader than a manager, albeit ideally, there must be a balance between management and leadership responsibility. This influence I inherited from my dissertation research process. My dissertation subject focussed on “developing an effective operational and management system to enhance service delivery at the City of Ekurhuleni.” Research findings revealed that in fact, to a large extent, effective operational and management systems were in place, but the deficit relied on weak institutional leadership. Just to qualify the context of the research, the focus slanted more on the administrative area of the institution. Alright, before I get carried away, let me refer you and anyone interested to my MBA dissertation submitted in May 2008.’

What did you learn about yourself as a manager or leader?‘
As implied supra, I tend to focus more on leadership than management, and the resultant weakness, inevitably means the management aspect becomes weak. Therefore, I would argue than I am more of a leader than a manager. In my view, the effective exercise of what Dr. Ruel Khoza calls attuned leadership, should give rise to responsible subordinates or followers. I am inclined to use consultative and participatory democratic style of leadership.’

What concrete skills or capabilities has the MBA given you?
‘Concrete skills acquired though the MBA are inter alia, critical analytical skills, report writing, situational or PESTEL analysis and systematic research skills. These have been invaluable in my professional life.’

What was your main motivation to write your book Obscure Revolution – An Appreciative Perspective?
‘The barbaric violence that took place in the Kathorus area of the erstwhile East Rand-now called Ekurhuleni, was the main inspiration behind writing my book. More so, the tragic death of my grandmother, who took the bullets that were aimed at me. This aspect is explained both in the preface and episode five of the book. The blurb of the book also alludes to this aspect.’

How has it been received so far?
‘The book is still new in the global market, but it was received with excitement in the local market. It is the first book to be written in its unique form by a local resident. It highlights, for the first time, the history of Vosloorus Township in Ekurhuleni.’

Now that it’s published, what’s your next goal?
‘My next goal is to market the book, especially among the young people, in order to make them realize that freedom was not free. Most importantly, the book seeks to encourage reconciliation, which is a critical tenet of patriotism. Given the opportunity, the book should be adapted to serve as a secondary source in academia.’

Want to get in touch with Abednigo? Contact him via email motsopia@gmail.com.


For more information on our Action Learning MBA and Management Programmes, send an email to international@bsn.eu.