Category Archives: private higher education

Andries Agenbag shares his Work Based Challenge with us

How to make lighter work of a heavy load

Transporting a heavy load such as a 625-ton ship or lifting a 1 200-ton conveyor belt structure is no mean feat but lighter work can be made of it through integration and teamwork. That was Andries Agenbag’s thinking when he set out on a journey unlike any he’d embarked on before: his work-based challenge for his BCom degree in Operational Risk Management.

Like every qualification from The Da Vinci Institute, relevance to the workplace is essential. So Agenbag chose to tackle a problem that had troubled him for quite some time: the need for greater operational integration at Vanguard Rigging (Pty) Ltd, specialists in heavy lifting and abnormal load transportation.

“When planning a big lift or transportation move, there are two key components – the lifting machinery element and engineering element, on the one hand, and safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) on the other,” he says. “But, having served on a lot of SHEQ and engineering committees, I have seen that the two areas don’t speak the same language.”

The language of SHEQ is legal compliance; the language of engineering is technical. When the two are out of step, planning big lifts or transportation moves take longer and can be more complicated than necessary.

As SHEQ Manager at Vanguard Rigging (Pty) Ltd, Agenbag had noticed this and been trying to figure out what could be done about it. He had even gone so far as to complete a Lifting Machinery Inspection course and registration process with the Engineering Council of South Africa, ensuring that he understood the language his engineering colleagues were speaking. “The problem was that I didn’t really know where I was going with this.”

Finding direction

His BCom studies and specifically the requirement that he do a work-based challenge put an end to that uncertainty. “Through my challenge, I gained a proper sense of direction. My BCom gave me the tools and knowledge I needed to define the exact steps I needed to take towards operational integration.”

Agenbag’s chosen topic was an “assessment of the impact of non-integrated operational systems on service levels”. He began with a literature review and extensive consultation with subject matter experts in the SHEQ, engineering and lifting machinery sectors.

“The feedback from 80% of subject matter experts was that it is possible and preferable to run SHEQ and the engineering side as one. One of the biggest benefits of working together is the time saved on planning, and greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

After presenting his findings to the company’s board of directors, he received the green light to formulate and implement an action plan to make operational integration a reality. This included developing a software package to support integration and appointing auditors to conduct a gap analysis and identify risks.

The implementation of Agenbag’s action plan is underway, and he is confident that the company will reap the benefits of operational integration. “My BCom made it happen. The idea was there but I didn’t know how to put that into practice. My studies opened it up for me.”

Michael is a mine of information on safety at the coalface

Michael Madonsela is the kind of safety officer who is willing to roll up his sleeves and work at the coalface – literally.

When he was elected and qualified as a mine health and safety representative 14 years ago, he looked at the two short-term diplomas he had earned and decided he wasn’t satisfied. “I wanted to broaden my knowledge of mine operations.”
So he qualified as a miner.

After three years at the coalface underground, with blasting certificate in hand, Madonsela went back to the safety environment – where his true passion lay – with a deep understanding of coal mining.

His hunger for knowledge and broader horizons was still not satisfied, though. “I enrolled for a National Diploma in Safety at Unisa and then met Chanel Swart, a Marketing and Sales Manager of ERCA, who recommended the Da Vinci Institute.” He enrolled for a BCom degree in 2014.

For his work-based challenge, mine safety was a natural choice of topic for Madonsela, who is now chief safety officer at Kanga Coal’s mine in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.

Why do people take risks?

His focus was on safety hazards associated with what is known as the “Continuous Miner”, a machine operated by remote control and used to cut coal from the coalface underground.

“Statistics showed quite a few operators were getting injured,” he says. “Investigations showed that some of the injuries were due to at-risk behaviour by the operators and I wondered why. What causes people to take risks?”

His starting point was to go through all the accident investigation reports. “I then went to observe machine operators underground and also interviewed those operators.”

Getting to the root of problems

He soon identified several problems. One was that visibility underground was sometimes so poor that machine operators could not see the exact positions of the Continuous Miner machine and the shuttle cars (vehicles used to load cut coal from the Continuous Miner onto conveyor belts). That could make it difficult for them to navigate the machines accurately, sometimes exposing themselves to hazards that may result in injury.

A related problem was operators misjudging their own proximity to the machines and the mine’s sidewalls, sometimes finding themselves caught between the two.
Another problem was when machine operators went into areas where coal had been freshly cut but the roof was not yet properly supported.

It also transpired that some, more experienced operators were taking risks because they were so familiar with the job they were cutting corners.

“It was a combination of conditions and human error,” says Madonsela, who then came up with concrete recommendations for preventing Continuous Miner-related accidents as far as possible.

Coming up with solutions

His recommendations included installing reflective sticks to demarcate areas considered dangerous for operators, installing ducting to clear dust and keep air flowing to improve visibility, and improving communication between machine operators, especially by using sign language (given noisy underground conditions).
“We also send out a weekly bulletin to inform employees about not only the latest safety issues but to raise awareness as well,” says Madonsela.

He graduates with his BCom degree in September 2017. “I’d like to say thank you to Da Vinci because my studies have helped me a lot with understanding operations. When I started my studies, I didn’t know what to expect but I have received quite a lot of support from my colleagues and management from the mine, and my lecturers have been helpful. I have learned a lot.”

India’s Campus Labs heads for TT100 again

The vast geographical distance between India and South Africa has not stopped Campus Labs, an Indian company based in Delhi NCR, from participating fully in the TT100 awards programme.

With two TT100 awards under its belt already, Campus Labs, specialising in academic, financial and administrative applications for the higher education market, is planning to take part for the third time in 2016.

“We look forward to it,” says Ashish Srivastava, CEO of Campus Labs, which entered the programme for the first time in 2014 – the same year that the TT100 was opened up to companies beyond South Africa’s borders.

In that year, Campus Labs won the management of innovation award in the category for emerging enterprises. In the following year, 2015, the company won the Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance, also in the category for emerging enterprises.

“We enter because we believe the programme could be a good way to help build our profile in Africa, and because there are similarities in the higher education market in India and South Africa,” says Ashish, who heard about the TT100 through a business contact in Africa.

The awards Campus Labs has won have also been good for the company’s image in India. “Our clients are impressed that we have won international awards.”

TT100 participants from abroad receive exactly the same treatment as South African-based companies, except they interact with the adjudicators via videoconference instead of in person.

“The videoconference session with the adjudicators took a couple of hours and was very detailed. They had many questions for us and we had the opportunity to gain an African perspective on our business. It was a great experience.”


TT100 an opportunity to learn from the best, says X/procure

How often does a small business have the opportunity to learn directly from the best and most successful companies in the country across all industries? That’s relatively rare in the normal course of business. On the TT100 Awards Programme, it’s one of the benefits of participating, says JD Henderson, managing director of X/procure, a regular entrant since 2007.

“In the years when we didn’t win, we networked with the winners to find out what they were doing with their systems, people or technology that we weren’t. They were willing to share and we to listen, just as when we have won, we were willing to share,” says JD Henderson, managing director of X/procure.

Exposure to the best practices of top-performing small, medium and large companies in many different sectors has brought practical benefits to X/procure, whose electronic procurement software is now used by more than 65% of pharmacies in South Africa.

A simple but critical example of lessons taken to heart is the necessity of running failsafe systems that are fully redundant and comprehensively backed up so that clients restocking their pharmacies with medicines are never let down if one link or switch goes down.

“But what’s really amazing for us is that as we grow our technology platforms and stabilise our systems, we are expanding into other industries,” JD says. “We’re now expanding into liquor, where the supply chain is virtually the same as it is in pharmaceuticals.”

The inspiration for this expansion was none other than the TT100 programme. “While we were networking, we saw that these guys (winning companies) were diversifying, and we asked ourselves how we could do the same.”

Changing a weakness into a strength

However, the area where participating in the TT100 has been most valuable to X/procure, according to JD, is in the management of its people. “We identified that as a weakness,” he says. “Software developers and programmers are generally perceived to be introverts; they’re not really socially out there. So we wanted to know what others are doing to win in that category.”

The lessons X/procure brought home from its networking included introducing flexible working hours and leave, and innovative employee wellness initiatives. As a result, by 2015, the company had turned its perceived weakness in managing people into a strength: X/procure won the Management of People category in the small enterprises section of the TT100 in 2015.

Also in 2015, by the way, X/procure won the Management of Innovation category for small enterprises, the Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance and the DST Director-General’s Award for Overall Excellence. And the company was a finalist in two other categories, the Management of Systems and the Management of Technology.

Interestingly, JD says X/procure has been invited to participate in other awards programmes but would rather stay with the TT100. “None of the others are as focused on our core business as the TT100. Nobody else has a model like the TIPS model. For us, it works.”

For more information, contact
Carol Varga at

Curiosita Colloquium: 27 October 2015

Guest Speaker: Robert C.H. Garbett | Managing Director | Professional Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd

Topic of discussion,“Business and Love”
Mr Robert (Rob) C.H. Garbett is managing director of Professional Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd and managing director of Professional Aviation Security & Risk Management (Pty) Ltd. These companies provide service in the logistics, air cargo security and training industries and are both registered security organisations. Professional Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd also provides a consultation service covering the purchase and sale of Jet and Turboprop aircraft. He holds an A Grade Security rating with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA).
Rob is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and previously served on the IoD committee responsible for environmental affairs for over seven years. He is a member of the Council of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), and Honorary Director for Life of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA). He has been intimately involved with the SACAA Civil Aviation Regulations Committee (CARcom) over the past eight years and currently represents the interest of CAASA and JCCI members on both CARcom and the SACAA Industry Liaison Forum (ILF).

His commercial experience extends over fifty years in the cargo industry including experience in the clearing, forwarding, air freight, air courier and aircraft operation fields. He has held various positions in the forwarding industry including that of Operations Director of Micor Airfreight (Pty) Ltd and was a shareholder, and managing director, in Advertising Deadlines and Freight (Pty) Ltd, a company specialising in the domestic air courier business. Rob has also operated cargo aircraft over the last twenty years and has specialised in air cargo security for the last ten years.
He is an active member of the Pelindaba Working Group who are opposed to the development of energy derived from nuclear power. Rob’s leisure activities include anything which contributes positively towards the environment, the bible, horses and squash.
PhD Student Speaker: Pieter Du Toit: Principal Consultant – VNI Consultants

Topic of thesis, “Leadership thinking and operational risk management: A holistic model based on aviation (air traffic) perspectives.”

Pieter Du Toit is the owner and manager for VNI Consultants. He has over 18 years of business consulting and training delivery experience and is strong in the Strategic-, Human Resources-, Risk Assessment-, Safety Management-, Project Implementation- and Leadership Training arenas.

Having consulted in almost all industries he has wide-ranging experience and knowledge of large mining operations in the gold-, platinum-, coal-, copper-, zinc, lead- and diamond mining fraternities. Some of his VNI Consulting assignments have been with Air Traffic and Navigation Services SA, Glencore (Int. & RSA), Xstrata Coal SA, Accenture, Royal Sechaba, Goldfields (Int. & RSA), Transnet SA, Impala Platinum, Anglo Platinum and -Gold, PharmaNatura, PEP Clothing and Above and Beyond Concepts. Pieter is also experienced in Aviation and has been granted the rank of Captain in the South African Air Force.

During his consulting career he has developed strong business relationships with other Consulting Firms to whom he provides support and shares expert knowledge on various organisational matters. He is also a member of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). Due to his passion for the training and development of people he was instrumental in initiating a training academy facilitating a diploma in leadership and management development (NQF 6). Pieter is currently busy with his PhD at The Da Vinci Institute in Modderfontein, Johannesburg.

Copy of Robert C.H. Garbett’s speech:

Links to the video session, for those who missed the session.

Curiosita 27 October 2015 Part 1 of 2

Curiosita 27 October 2015 Part 2 of 2

Dean: Academic Development and Research – Introducing Dr Linda Lunga Sibali

Dr. Linda Lunga Sibali (Pr. Sci. Nat.; MRSSf.; SACI)
BSc. (Hons.); MSc. (Chem.); D. Tech. (Env. Mangnt.)
The Da Vinci Institute wishes to advise you of the new appointment of Dr Linda Sibali who will join the Da Vinci team on 1st August 2015 as Dean: Academic Development and Research.
Dr Sibali has been married to Thulile Sibali for 3 years since 10 April 2012 and has two daughters aged 22 and 2 years old. He was born and raised in the rough and dusty streets of Kwazakhele Township in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. When he grew up he found that the youth had a certain perception about education and how to achieve what you really want. Education was perceived by the youth as the long route to achieve what you want to be in life, whilst doing crime was the preferred route as it was assumed to be a shorter journey. Hence, his passion in life is to continuously engage with youth on the benefits of education. He always wanted to be educated, achieve more in life and be a role model to the youth in his township.
Dr Sibali’s impressive repertoire consists of a published book titled, ‘Determination of selected endocrine disrupting Compounds in water and sediments from the Jukskei River Catchment Area.’ He has published ten manuscripts in various publications such as the American Journal of Analytical Chemistry (2015), Water Quality Research Journal of Canada (2010), Water SA (2010) and many more.
Dr Sibali obtained his Bachelor of Science in 2000 from the University of Fort Hare in Eastern Cape, majoring in Chemistry and Microbiology. In 2002 he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science Honours in Chemistry from the University of Fort Hare in Eastern Cape. His research topic was titled, ‘Heavy Metal Toxins Analysis in Waste Water Treatment Plant in King William’s Town, Eastern Cape. In 2003, he continued his learning journey and obtained a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Fort Hare in Eastern Cape. His research topic was tilted, ‘Remediation of Heavy Metals (Cadmium and Lead) and Phthalate Esters in Contaminated Soil Treated with Composts.’
In 2008 Dr Sibali went on to obtain a Doctorate in Technology (Environmental Management, majoring in Analytical/Environmental Chemistry). His research topic was tilted ‘Determination of Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds in Water and Sediments from Jukskei River Catchment Area.’He is currently studying his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Tshwane University of Technology.
In his spare time, he likes to watch sport either live on TV or at a stadium. On a social level he likes to get together with friends. Dr Sibali is curious about life and finds himself drawn to the Da Vinci principle of Curiosita as he likes to read any interesting material and likes to explore the world through travel.
Dr Sibali began his working journey as a chemistry tutor and experienced growth in his career as a lecturer researcher and research administrator in a traditional public university. It was his interest to be part of the Da Vinci Institute as he considers it a top private school for managerial leadership and is eager to learn more about Da Vinci’s approach in higher education within South Africa and abroad.
When asked which managerial leader inspires him, Dr Sibali states that Mrs Yolanda Cuba-Mtyi stands out to him. She is a non-executive Director at Absa Group Limited and serves as a Director at various companies. She is a qualified CA (SA) and has served as Chief Executive Officer of Mvelaphanda Group Limited, where she became one of the youngest chief executive officers ever of a JSE-listed company.
Dr Sibali has the following views on higher education in a developing country:
“It is also a known fact that in many developing countries, the demand for courses and subjects of study has changed and public universities are unable to respond to this phenomenon.
The inability of the public sector to satisfy the growing social demand for higher education has necessitated the entry of the private sector in order to expand access conditions.” 
Based on the above, Dr Sibali thinks private institutions have a big role to play in developing countries as they are more needed by the market of the higher education sector for skills development and cross-border education which is offered mainly through the private sector.
When asked what value he hopes to bring to Da Vinci, Dr Sibali states the below:
“There are four key values that I try, to the best of my ability, to live my life by. Hopefully I can bring these values with me as I venture into my new role at Da Vinci:
·      Integrity – match beliefs, actions, and talk. Be a man that keeps his      word. Be honest and upfront with people.
·         Forward looking – set challenging yet obtainable goals for myself.
·         Competency – constantly learn. Become knowledgeable and great at   whatever undertaking I am involved in.
·         Inspiring – help others. Know that in order to find yourself; you must lose    yourself in the service of others. Become a merchant of hope. Be    patient, kind, and courteous.
These four values encompass everything I want to be as an organization member and person.”