Nombulelo successfully completed Business School Netherlands (BSN) International Action Learning MBA. She has some advice to current and future MBA students. “It is important that they grab these opportunities with both hands. I would advise them to not be scared to push for change. Work hard, because hard work pays. Working hard also means working strategically and working smartly”
How did you first hear about the BSN International MBA?
I heard about the BSN International MBA when I was browsing for MBA programmes online. I was quite interested in the Wits information and they had their MBA information advertised there, but on the side, I saw BSN coming up. I got interested because it was specifically an Action Learning MBA and that reminded me of action research.
I read the flyer, took the contact that was written there and I spoke to a BSN team member (Paul). When I initially called the Cape Town number, I first thought that it was a scam because I thought it sounds too good to be true. I wanted to check the authenticity of the programme and if is really doable. I was given the contact of a lady by the name of Naz who was fortunately in Durban.
I met with the lady and at that time she was still doing her BSN MBA programme and she guided me throughout. I was so excited. Each and every day I felt like this is what I’ve always wanted to do. My application went through. There were some tensions with all the ticks and requirements and it took me a while to prepare everything that was needed.
What was your motivation behind doing an MBA?
I think it came at the right time. I was looking for an MBA from Wits and had already applied at one of the local universities in Kwa-Zulu Natal. I was holding on and not confirming my interview with them. I was already in the mood for applying for an MBA. I wanted to have it besides the other qualifications I have, but I needed it to have more knowledge and skills in management and leadership at the level of an MBA.
I strongly believe that our principals of the almost 530 schools in Umlazi District do need to hear a voice from a person who will understand the management issues and dynamics. I felt that I needed to be at that level, not just doing a certificate or a diploma, but taking the bigger picture.
I was also looking forward to doing something bigger than the operating level that I was on. I was also preparing for some form of self-employment.
Share some of the highlights of your time studying for the MBA
The first highlight was when I received news that I was accepted. I was cautioned that there were further steps, but I was already excited. When I received correspondence that said that I’m starting my programme in September, I was over the moon.
The highlights included valuable information and exposure to Action Learning from all the modules that we covered. It changed my approach to doing things. It changed the service delivery and it changed my life completely. It made me realise that some of the information is in front of us but we are not using it.
It was a “wow” moment because transferring that theory to the policy was fairly new in the department, and that made me excited.
I also met many interesting specialists in the field. We had amazing lecturers. They wouldn’t only share the theory, but their journeys as well. They also shared their vision with us where you must push and fight for what is right.
I also enjoyed meeting colleagues in-group from all over the world. We were only 12 in the group, but we became like a small family.
My graduation also made me feel special. It is a day I will never forget.
After my graduation, I had planned with a director that was in our district. He was supporting me in the processes of working with other sections and putting Action Learning in place.
The hospitality from BSN was amazing. Accommodation, food and pocket money as well.
What were some of the changes you made to your management style or role at work because of Action Learning?
I was already enthusiastic about starting to do things in a manner that will be diversified, which is more than just the core function of my special needs operation. What I started doing after my MBA is doing more of the diversification on the other side.
I also started intensifying my international links. We started having formal programmes with people I knew abroad where they came and visited us. We would put together a series of meetings with officials and they would visit schools.
At the district level, I started to introduce a lot of projects and initiatives and put action in place. This benefits learners. We started projects to give special needs learners skills and opening doors for them in the world of work.
Lastly, I took the initiative of integrating with other sections in strengthening collaborations, because we are many different sub-directorates and it is important that we work together to build an inclusive education system.
How has your career evolved since completing your studies?
It has given me one message: Do not stop learning. It has indicated to me that if I can do an MBA from BSN, then I can do many other things in fulfilling my dreams. The MBA is also very much in line with preparing me for the exit from the department, in that I can work privately as a psychologist and a consultant. I am planning to do a lot of community projects, training etc.
The level of competency that the MBA gave me has opened doors for me.
What difference do you think the NFP scholarship makes in Southern Africa?
It changes lives. Keeps people abreast of change. It makes sure that opportunities are open for women. As a woman who is an official, it makes me proud to say that I can make a difference. The scholarship also pushes people to become more committed to service delivery in their organisations.
It enables the education of competent and visionary leaders who always strive for change. We can do things for 20 years, but if there is no change, then it won’t give the results that are needed.
What advice would you give current and future MBA students?
It is important that they grab this opportunity with both hands. I would advise them to not be scared to push for change. Work hard, because hard work pays. Working hard also means working strategically and working smartly.
If you want to be associated with the best, go for the best. Go for the BSN MBA. With BSN, you will never be the same.
It reminds me of what Mahatma Gandhi once said: ”Learn as if you were to live forever”.
That is what I would want current and future MBA students to remember. Learning is a lifelong process and it keeps you younger.
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