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Can Leadership be Learned?

Published on May 13, 2019 – Roberta Chinsky Matuson, Strategic Advisor | Consultant | Executive Coach | Public Speaker | Talent Maximizer®

Note: This article is part of a pilot series that I’m participating in for LinkedIn. Hit the subscribe button and you’ll receive a notification when my weekly posts goes live.

Last week’s Wall Street Journal featured a full-page story on a course for undergrads: How to Be a Boss 101. Launched in January, “How to Be the Boss” is full of practical lessons aimed at building better managers. What’s interesting to note is that this course is focused on undergraduates, as opposed to graduate students who often have work experience. This move is intentional.

The professor of this course, Peter Cappelli and others in the business world have picked up on a trend, that I too noted. As more young people graduate and move into jobs at technology companies and consulting firms, they are finding themselves suddenly in charge. This situation will become even more common, as organizations fight to survive in one of the worst talent crunches in history. Those who show up for work on time and have decent communications skills will be anointed leader. Scary, right? You bet!

Comments were immediately posted on the WSJ inferring that a school like UPenn Wharton School of Business has lost their mind (and their edge) by teaching such nonsense, while I applauded Wharton’s bold move.

Like many of today’s newly minted managers, I too was suddenly in charge. At the age of 24, I was tossed into a leadership role with little more than a prayer. I did a ton of damage along the way, that may have been avoided had leadership been taught at the undergrad level where I attended school.

Here’s why I believe leadership should be taught at every college and university and in every major.

  1. If people knew how hard it is to lead, they’d think twice before accepting a leadership role. That’s a good thing, as not everyone is cut out to be a leader.
  2. You can never be too educated in terms of leadership. Learning this at a young age will help to inspire tomorrow’s leaders to be lifetime learners.
  3. People might stop giving their leaders such a hard time, if they had a better sense of how difficult it is to be a manager. This would result in more peaceful and productive workplaces.
  4. People quit their bosses. If there were better bosses in the workplace, more employees would stick around. Employee turnover costs organizations a ton of money. Don’t believe me? 

It may be too late for many, who’ve attended college, to participate in a class like this. And if we’re being realistic here, not everyone can get in or afford to attend a school like Wharton.

Luckily there are other ways to acquire this knowledge. Read books on this topic (you might find my book, Suddenly in Charge to be of interest) or articles like this one to bolster your understanding. Make it a point to attend a few leadership tracks at the next conference you visit. Find a coach or a mentor to guide you through the everyday realities of leading at work.

Leadership is a skill that can be learned. If I can do it, so can you!

© 2019, Matuson Consulting.


South Africa’s Minimum Wage Bill: Is it good for employment?

Late in 2018 the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, signed the minimum wage bill effective 1st of January 2019. The bill stipulates that the minimum wage for employees in South Africa will be R3500 per month. There have been conflicting sentiments in reaction to the signing of the minimum wage bill some grateful and others claiming that the minimum wage is too low (Lindeque, 2018). However, the inevitable question is: Is this a progressive bill for the economy as a whole? In this regard researchers (Herr, Kazandziska, & Mahnkopf-Praprotnik, 2009) argue that changes in minimum wages may theoretically open up the opportunity for amongst other poverty reduction, but this may not necessarily materialise in relation to income distribution and price level.  In this paper, the researcher intends to focus on the potential effect of the minimum wage bill on employment in South Africa. In particular, this view will be informed by what can be referred to as the well-known Keynesian framework (Keynes, 2018). The researcher wishes to pronounce that it is by no means clear what the real long term effect of the minimum wage bill will be on employment – this is just a brief theoretical analysis. 

Nguyen (2012:2) indicates “minimum wages are the lowest hourly, daily or monthly wage that a government requires employers to pay to employees.” For the author, it seems the rationale of countries to increase minim wages for employees, is motivated by the intent to reduce poverty and consequently to improve workers’ living conditions. While this may be a noble course, will this do South Africa well as a country?

Diagram 1 Employment Effects of Minimum Wages in the Keynesian Paradigm (Herr et al., 2009)

The diagram shows the employment effects of minimum wages within a Keynesian model (Herr, Kazandziska, & Mahnkopf-Praprotnik, 2009).

The Keynesian model analysis would assume that the increase in the minimum wage to low-income households will lead to higher consumption especially on necessity goods, thus increasing the Aggregate Demand in the economy in the short term. This will automatically lead to an increase in production and supply which could have a positive turn of events for any economic context in the long term. In the absence of technological innovation, minimum wages could impact positively on employment (though this might involve informal/casual workers), in order to meet the production demands. Other positive spin-offs could include single households to being elevated above the poverty line and therefore impacting the economy positively.

Another possibility of minimum wage implementation is the increase of wages for low-income groups (assuming they employed in the production of goods), the price of those affected production lines will increase accordingly. However, one of the unintended consequences would be an increase in inflation rates.

Research asserts empirical evidence of many countries, over long periods of time, have not been able to show any clear relationship between minimum wage implementation and the rate of unemployment:

  • Card (1992:22) in evaluating minimum wage effects implemented between 1987 and 1989 in the United States of America, found that there insignificant correlation between minimum wage implementation and employment
  • Stewart (2004) studied datasets stemming from UK’s April 1999 minimum wage introduction and found no significant effects on employment
  • Dickens and Draca (2005) found no significant correlation between minimum wage implementation and employment when the UK implemented minimum wages in 2003

In conclusion, South Africans, in agreeing to the implementation of the minimum wage bill, have embarked on a journey which may alleviate poverty of low-income workers, whilst not necessarily impacting employment levels (either positive or negative).  However, in reference to the latter,  employers may opt to lay off of employees, intending to minimise costs, instead of inflating the cost through to consumers – the employers are likely to apply for the exemption that is allowed by the minimum wage bill (for employers who are unable to meet the minimum wages as stipulated).

For small businesses owners and entrepreneurs alike, the option to employ casual workers will be a more feasible option, both from a cost point of view as well as from an operations point of view (administration involved in following due processes regarding the exemption requirements). It must also be noted that the implementation of the minimum wage bill could, in the long run, result in increases in price levels.  As such South Africans will also need to entrust the Reserve Bank to continue with their inflation-target policy.

Written by Tshepho Langa


Card, D. (1992). Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 46, 22.

Dickens, R., & Draca, M. (2005). The Employment Effects of the October 2003 Increase in the National Minimum Wage. Discussion Paper no. 693, Centre for Economic Performance.

Draca, M., Machin, S., & Van Reenen, J. (2011). Minimum Wages and Firm Profitability. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3, 129–151.

Herr, H., Kazandziska, M., & Mahnkopf-Praprotnik, S. (2009, February). The theoretical debate about minimum wages.

Keynes, J. M. (2018, December). The general theory of employment, interest, and money. Cambridge: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from

Lindeque, M. (2018, May 30). Retrieved from Eye Witness News:

Nguyen, C. (2012, February 18). Do Minimum Wage Increases Cause Inflation? Evidence from Vietnam.

Stewart, M. B. (2002). The Impact of the Introduction of the UK Minimum Wage on the Employment Probabilities of Low Wage Workers. Journal of the European Economic Association, 2, 67-97.

Towards a Rational Response to Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the term that is used to describe the use of someone else’s ideas or texts as one’s own without acknowledging the originator or source of the ideas. Simply, it is copying (and pasting) or using someone else’s work without acknowledging the fact. Generally, plagiarism is a ‘criminal’ act and viewed seriously and as is the case with all criminal acts, ignorance is no excuse.

At the Da Vinci School of Business Leadership, we have taken a rational and developmental approach to ‘copying and pasting or incorrect referencing’’ and refer to the Similarity Index which emanates from reports using plagiarism tools such as Turnitin, rather than plagiarism.

The Turnitin report will produce an overall Similarity Index which is normally expressed as a percentage (for example 25%), which indicates how much of the document submitted by a student is similar to material which was previously published. The Report further indicates a breakdown of the overall similarity index to specific sources such as books (5%), journal articles (7%), dissertations (10%), internet sources (2%) where the materials appeared previously as well as paragraphs of the similar material which is highlighted. 

In order to reduce the Similarity Index to acceptable thresholds, the student needs to rephrase the text and reload the document so that a new report can be produced. Below is an example of how the text could be rephrased:  

This paper examines how students perceived e-learning versus traditional learning mechanisms; how e-learning mechanisms have affected their learning behaviour and why certain e-learning mechanisms offered in the course were more appealing than others.

  • The above statement has no reference and the writer may have copied this verbatim, without realizing that the Similarity Index will be very high since it is a mere “copy and paste’’ exercise.

The above statement can be paraphrased using any one of the following options.

Option 1:

“This paper examines how students perceived e-learning versus traditional learning mechanisms; how e-learning mechanisms have affected their learning behaviour; and why certain e-learning mechanisms offered in the course were more appealing than others” (Mitchell & Forer, 2010:27).

Option 2:

In this study, the perceptions of students regarding e-learning were examined. In addition, the effects of e-learning mechanisms on student learning behaviour was evaluated and the reasons why certain e-learning mechanisms were more appealing than others was explored (Mitchell & Forer, 2010:27).

Option 3:

Somewhat similar to Mitchell & Forer (2010:27), in this study, the perceptions of students regarding e-learning were examined. In addition, the effects of e-learning mechanisms on student learning behaviour was evaluated and the reasons why certain e-learning mechanisms were more appealing than others was explored.

Option 4:

In line with previous research (Mitchell & Forer, 2010:27), this study, examined the perceptions of students regarding e-learning. In addition, the effects of e-learning mechanisms on student learning behaviour was evaluated and the reasons why certain e-learning mechanisms were more appealing than others, were explored.

Option 5:

Mitchell and Forer (2010:27), studied the perceptions of students regarding e-learning. In addition, the aforementioned researchers examined the effects of e-learning mechanisms on student learning behaviour and, the reasons why certain e-learning mechanisms were more appealing than others was explored (Mitchell & Forer 2010)

How My Business Education Will Help Me Create Social Change

Posted May 08, 2018 by Lorraine Black – Undergraduate Student – Towson University College of Business & Economics

Imagine a child, no more than seven years old, coming home from school. All she can think about is finishing the game of “house” she and her friends were playing yesterday. Or maybe it will be a game of kickball or tag, who knows? The friends drop their book bags off at home and then head outside to play. But this kid knows better. Although she could do the same, she can hear her mom’s voice in the back of her mind telling her to do her homework. So, she opens her backpack and pulls out her books, papers, and pencils.

The little girl completes her readings but decides to read a few more short stories because she enjoys seeing how they develop. She also loves how following structured steps results in the correct solution—every time. After completing the assigned long division problems, she makes up her own problems for practice. Now that this little girl feels intrinsically accomplished, she runs outside and tumbles down a giant hill with her friends. Life seems so simple, so easy.

What type of neighborhood did you imagine that scenario in? Could you imagine it set in a government-assisted apartment complex? With drug dealers on almost every corner? With homeless people sleeping on the playground, and police sirens constantly wailing nearby? Does the setting change your perception of the child?

I was that seven-year-old, and that environment describes the neighborhood in which I grew up. As a child, I was oblivious to much of the negative forces going on around me. I waved hello to the drug dealers (one of them was my father), gave homeless neighbors pieces of candy I bought at the corner store, and did not stop playing even when there was a domestic dispute going on in the parking lot. At that time, I saw my surroundings as nothing but home.

Now, as a college student ready to graduate from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in Spanish, I attribute my drive, my passion, and my need for achievement to the subconscious impact my surroundings had on me.

Throughout my childhood, I personally witnessed people experiencing the root causes of homelessness—addiction, the need to flee from abusive relationships, and the inability to access quality resources. But it was not until I started pursuing my business degree that I realized my true passion—what I believe is the reason for my existence—to eliminate homelessness within my community.

During a business writing course in my freshman year, I had to write a business plan for an organization I wanted to create. My organization was called “Fighting with Unity,” and its goal was to streamline nonprofit services for the homeless population in Baltimore, Maryland. Having to outline what would be needed to make this dream a reality allowed me to see the purpose in all that I had to learn throughout my college career.

Studying business has not just helped me discover my passion but has prepared me to pursue it. The opportunities I’ve had and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained will enable me to become the best advocate I can be for the homeless and to pursue my dream of eradicating homelessness in my community.

Nearly every concept I have learned in my business courses will be vital to making my dream a reality. Courses in statistics combined with research internships have taught me how to collect, analyze, and synthesize data. These skills are necessary for implementing evidence-based solutions as well as formulating conclusions necessary to apply for grant funding. Courses in marketing have taught me how to target specific audiences effectively, which will be critical to soliciting donors as well as support from policymakers and community members. Courses in finance and accounting have equipped me with the knowledge to responsibly and efficiently manage a nonprofit’s books to ensure longevity of the organization. Project management courses, in addition to the experience of having held many leadership positions in various organizations, have given me the confidence and knowledge to plan and execute projects and events of various sizes.

Perhaps most importantly, through coursework that requires intense group work and presentations, being a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and networking with professors, I have learned how to communicate, to be a team leader, and to network with influential people.

The list of connections between what I have learned throughout my business education and what I will need to know to make a substantially beneficial impact on the homeless community would be too long to include here. But suffice it to say that the knowledge and skills from many of the courses I have taken can be applied directly to my goals. I am building a network of supportive and influential individuals. I am experiencing what it is like to work in the business world. When I look back at my beginnings as a child, I can see that my world was filled with disparity and hardship. Although that environment did not directly have an adverse effect on me, it has inspired me and fueled my drive to make my community a better place. My business education from Towson University’s College of Business and Economics is helping me do just that.

Da Vinci Appoints Remarkable Executive Dean: Profiling Professor Krishna Govender

The Da Vinci Team welcomes Professor Krishna Govender who has joined The Institute as Executive Dean. This profound scholar and leader certainly knows what it takes to be Remarkable, with multiple accomplishments to his name.  
Prof. Govender is a renowned academic, postgraduate research supervisor and a top rated researcher – with well over 100 articles published and various accolades amassed. He has held several senior and executive positions in his robust career, such as Academic Director, Rector and Executive Dean of faculties and schools in several private and public higher education institutions in South Africa and abroad.
This insightful man lives by the words of Nelson Mandela that “…an educated enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of a democracy.” To this end, Prof. Govender has over an expansive career not only enlightened and informed countless curious minds, at both high school and tertiary level, but also supervised over 50 postgraduate students in the last 6 years alone. Thus, contributing significantly to knowledge generation and the cultivation of research and business leaders that are impacting their organisations and the societies in which they research and operate. Outside of assisting others to hone their research skills, he is himself a prolific well-published academic researcher who is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and was listed amongst UKZN’s top 30 published researchers in both 2016 and 2017.
Prof. Govender holds true to the Da Vincian Principle of Curiosita (seeking the truth), with his insatiable curiosity in life and learning all he can, as well as an unrelenting quest for continuous learning not only through his various lauded research endeavours but also through his own formal studies. Prof. Govender holds a B Pedagogics (Commerce) (UDW); B Ed.; B Com. (Hons.) (Unisa); M Com (Natal); Ph.D. (UCT) and in 2018 was awarded a DBA (Honoris Causa).
Prof. Govender comments that he looks forward to engaging in Da Vinci’s co-operative learning culture and through this, he hopes to co-create a Learning Organisation, which embeds knowledge generation, dissemination and application as a cultural imperative.
We wish Prof. Govender an innovative, dynamic, unique and remarkable journey with us, and we certainly cannot wait for all Da Vincians to co-create with this mindful and deeply passionate Da Vinci scholar and leader.

Remarkable Business Leaders and Da Vinci Alumni

Profiling Steven Shepard and Cory Botha – Remarkable Business Leaders and Da Vinci Alumni that selflessly gave of their expertise to our examination process 
The Da Vinci Institute had the privilege of co-creating with two remarkable leaders and Da Vinci alumni that selflessly gave of their depth, insights, and experience in our postgraduate examination process in 2018. Each of them is remarkable in their own right and whilst their individual remarkability is evidenced below, their commonality is their willingness to give of themselves and their time to contribute to the examination process and thus, the personal development of the students’ that their skills benefited. Both Dr Steven Shepard and Mr Cory Botha are certainly contributors to Nelson Mandela’s vision that “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become a head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become president of a great nation.” Steven and Cory, we salute you both for your immense contributions to the Da Vinci community and society at large.
Dr Steven Shepard is a prolific writer, with over 80 books on the market to his name, about a wide range of topics – including technology, writing, history, biography, leadership, photography, and even some children’s books. He works with companies to help them realise the power of technology at the human level, focusing on how to ensure that the technology works for them.
Steven has a rich and diverse academic history, having completed his undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with degrees in Romance Languages (Romance Philology) and Biology. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in International Business. In 2009, he received his Ph.D. in the Management of Technology and Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute.
Immediately after graduating from Berkley, he began his career as a commercial diver and underwater cinematographer. He later entered the technology world and spent 11 years at Pacific Bell, followed by ten years with a consulting firm, before founding the Shepard Communication Group in 2000.
Steven is the epitome of living The Da Vinci Institute’s principles and dream – by giving back and impacting on the development of a sustainable society. Over the years, Steven has taught on Da Vinci programmes, assessed students and worked with Da Vinci staff on the development of new material. Steven explains that he sees Da Vinci as, “creating a culture of learning that transcends the school and extends deep into the lives of students.”
Engaging with Steven it is clear he is a man of rich interests, both fundamentally and professionally. He is deeply interested in the touchpoint between technology and people—how technology enables better healthcare, more effective education, more transparent government, expanded economic growth, and hope. Given his cinematographic background, coupled with his academic prowess and work experience in the management of innovation and technology, he is interested in different ways to deliver knowledge via podcasts, video, etc.
Visionary Elon Musk says that “I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.” Steven certainly is extraordinary, with his rich diversity, as he continues to author additional books, is a prolific speaker and inexplicable media producer. He also teaches about technology to various business executives and is involved with several universities such as Emory, the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, several schools in Canada, and of course, the Da Vinci Institute in various capacities’.  Steven, we salute you for your contributions.
Mr Cory Botha is currently the Head of Project Management Office, Centre of Excellence, Eskom Rotek Industries, and a remarkable Da Vinci alumni having received his Master of Science in Technology and Innovation (cum laude) in 2012. Post-graduation Cory has remained as involved as ever with the Da Vinci Institute in various capacities.
Cory has a philosophy that espouses The Da Vinci Institute principles of building a sustainable society and the vision of being a leader that cultivates all those one co-creates realities with.  He believes that “as individuals, we should know that we are not singular in this journey and there should be a collective willingness to introspect, argue, acknowledge and authentically address the gap together for mutual reinforcement and mutual benefit. Together, we should push the conversation forward – deeper, broader and with each other.”
It is clear that Cory has a profound passion for research that is purposeful, beneficial and has a deep-rooted social impact. He is of the belief that business can learn a great deal from research output and with his visionary thinking, he has no doubt assisted many business executives to understand that business practice is grounded in theory and validated in practice, making him a catalyst in bridging the divide between academia and actual practices.
Physicist Stephen Hawkings once said “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” and Corey is certainly a diverse individual who has built his career on being adaptable and a change agent. He was educated in light current electrical engineering in the 1970s but never got to practicing and working in that field because when he discovered the world of project management in his first job at Fluor International he was captivated. His combination of Engineering and Project Management skills are certainly formidable. His mentors advised him to look for employment as a project engineer and then as a full project manager. This led him to Dorbyl Industries and then Foster Wheeler Energy as a project engineer and finally, as a full project manager for Siemens. After completing his Siemens contract, Corey would go on to join the LTA subsidiaries, as the manager of their projects department. In 1990, Corey entered private practice as a project management consultant using his dynamic skill set and visionary approach to advise on project management development, lecturing in project management, developing project management systems and executing projects for clients. In 2006, he was recruited to support Eskom in their first new build project and in 2010 he joined Eskom Rotek Industries as the Head of the Project Management office, where he is still currently based.
As a Business Leader, Corey is an influencer in upskilling employees through education. This is because of his authentic belief in the power of education. He explains that “an organisation that encourages its employees to engage with academia and further their knowledge fundamentals, is bound to keep up with the ever-increasing performance demands and especially, with that rate of change.” He continues that he has “learnt that there is a pressing need for business executives and those who command business to adopt these principles, and themselves to seek that academic growth. It is regrettable that so often, those individuals in business who indeed strive to improve their academic prowess are often neglected and disregarded as “too academic”, and then, their suggestions towards improvement are devalued.” He believes that Da Vinci’s “mode 2 approach of developing employable knowledge is unique in preparing students to overcome this imbalance and assist them to deliver practical business solutions.”
Cory’s passion for learning and teaching is palpable and is reflected in his altruistic way of seeing education as a means to develop people. Engaging with Cory brings to mind a true educator, someone who believes that “education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and a world better than you found it” Marian Wright Edelman and that Cory certainly does. Cory lives by his word and to this end, plans to do ongoing lecturing and supervision of students, is currently researching and writing up his Ph.D. on the subject of dynamic imbalances between the temporary and permanent organising forms.  Corey does not believe he will ever slow down and post-retirement plans to remain as a consultant in the field of business strategy and institutionalising project management.



Da Vinci @ Work: Deelan Chetty Achieves Cum Laude

Life-long learning for some is a life philosophy. It is a way of living and approaching the world. For Deelan Chetty, he embraces this reality whole-heartedly. Having studied Information Technology straight after matric, Deelan restructured his focus to enter the logistics industry and went on to complete South African Customs modules 1 and 2, and International Forwarding.  To quench his hunger for knowledge, he has continued his learning through internal training whilst completing such programmes as leadership and employee development courses.
His thirst for learning more did not stop there and in June 2017, he enrolled for his Higher Certificate in the Management of Technology and Innovation with The Da Vinci Institute. “I am at a point in my career of 19 years where I need to constantly study and improve myself and the opportunity came about with Hellmann Worldwide Logistics and The Da Vinci Institute and I grabbed it. Experience can only take you that far; however, it is always good to back that experience up with a qualification.”
As many of us know, the challenge to balance working full time, studying part time and having family commitments can be quite a struggle. For Deelan, it was not an easy journey. “It required a lot of sacrifice. At first, it was difficult wearing the different hats and switching between family, work, study and play. I was lucky enough to have a strong support network in the office and at home and I was able to still achieve results and maintain control throughout.” Making it more difficult was the fact that Deelan resided in Durban. “I travelled to Johannesburg every month to attend my classes, so it was a lot of time away from home.”
“My position of Operations Manager (Air & Sea) at Hellmann is one that demands attention every minute of the day. I work in a fast paced and rapidly changing environment. My biggest challenge was working and studying and allocating time after hours to complete the programme”. Fortunately, the power of support from loved ones was imminent for Deelan. “I had a lot of support from my wife who was also studying at the time. She has inspired me to see the benefit in studying hard and the self-improvement that is derived from it.
“As a people manager, the programme set a tone of how to structure different leadership techniques and to manage and problem solve in a systematic way. It also taught me a lot about myself, my learning and personality style and how to engage with and identify other people’s learning styles.”
Through all the challenges on his learning journey, Deelan successfully graduated on 20 September 2018 at The Institute’s annual Graduation ceremony, held at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg. Not only, did he graduate, but also he achieved his qualification, Cum Laude. “It was an incredible experience graduating with my fellow colleagues and friends. One of my goals set out at the beginning of the programme was to achieve a Cum Laude and I accomplished it. Hard work and a positive mindset truly pay off.”
From his studies at The Institute, Deelan says he has learned that one has to take any opportunity to study seriously in order to make the biggest impact on one’s job. “As an operations manager for Hellmann Worldwide logistics, I take pride in learning as much as possible to, in turn; empower my people to achieve greatness and to lead by example. Prepare your mind, be committed, be dedicated, realize that it is not a task, but a learning journey of self-improvement.”


We would also like to acknowledge students from Hellmann Worldwide Logistics who graduated and achieved Top Achiever status. They are Elizabeth Marie Desancic for modules Managing Systems and Problem Solving, Creative Thinking and Decision Making, and Morne Erasmus for the Management of People module.

High level of interaction on ResearchGate makes all the difference

Not all opensource research platforms are equally useful. This is the experience of masters graduate Cliff Brunette, who has registered on two platforms and found them vastly different.
“I published my dissertation on both ResearchGate and,” says Cliff, who completed his masters through The Da Vinci Institute in 2017. “With ResearchGate, I get constant feedback. I have 60 reads across the world already and get monthly updates about how many people have read my dissertation and responded. I have also been asked to review someone else’s project and to comment on it.”
His experience of the other platform is more one-sided. “I know it’s there, but unless I go back in, there’s nothing forthcoming. ResearchGate is very active.”
Cliff, a Learning Experience Specialist with Cornerstone Performance Solutions, is now working on his PhD through Da Vinci and is finding ResearchGate resources useful and beneficial.
“When anyone I have cited (in his master’s dissertation) publishes a new article, I get notified and receive automatic access to their work. That is extremely relevant to me because of my field,” he says.
Cliff’s masters was about learning architecture and the role that personal significance plays in helping learners to co-create. For his PhD research, he is exploring learning architecture for a future Fourth Industrial Revolution world.


It’s a huge topic that affects everyone living in the 21st century, which is another reason why ResearchGate is helpful to Cliff. “You’re not limited to what is happening in South Africa; you’re playing on the international scene.”


Three and a half years ago, Mkhululi Moyo started a chapter of his life. It would be a start to something life-changing.  Mkhululi was no stranger to education, having completed his National Diploma in Computer Science. However, when enrolling with The Da Vinci Institute for his BCom (Business Management), he liked the experiential learning approach used and the emphasis on self-discovery, and the practical application of learning in a workplace.
His learning journey paralleled with full-time employment as he continued to work as a Software Developer in Global Markets Technology at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB). This was both life and career changing because Mkhululi soon realised that to get the most out of his BCom studies, he had to change his career and be in a role aligned to his BCom studies. Mkhululi then joined the Client Strategy team in Coverage. Part of Mkhululi’s struggles in balancing work and study lied in procrastination. “During the first half of year one, I would start working on my assignment close to the deadline. After going through the pressure of having to accomplish a lot within a limited time, I decided to overcome procrastinating and start doing my assignments early and completing them in time.”
This alignment of study and work became more integrated as Mkhululi started applying his learning in the workplace. His role as a Client Strategist at RMB includes driving the origination and retention strategy by providing deep corporate client and industry sector insights. “I enjoyed my experience of learning and working as I was able to apply most of my learning in my workplace. My work-based challenge was based on an existing situation within the RMB Global Markets technology division. I shared my research paper with my line manager and they were appreciative of the work I had done and committed to using the information from my research paper as input to make informed decisions.”
“When the energy was low my motivator was knowing that the theory I was learning in class was applicable in the real world of work and there were noticeable and immediate benefits in my contribution in the work that I was doing.” In this context, motivation and support came from those closest to him. “My wife who is an academic was very supportive. She helped to simplify some of the assignments that I was overthinking.”
Mkhululi Moyo graduated on 20 September 2018 at the Annual Da Vinci Graduation Ceremony and was awarded a Cum Laude for his BCom (Business Management) qualification. When asked how it felt, Mkhululi stated, “It felt good. I am pleased with myself. In fact, I am proud of having achieved the BCom qualification and the recognition I received for obtaining a Cum Laude. It is humbling to have been supported and provided with an enabling environment that has allowed me to unleash my potential.”
“Studying while you’re working is different from studying to complete your studies and get a qualification. It is beneficial because when you study and work you are not just dealing with theory, there is an existing work “sandbox” environment available to test and apply your learning. It is this experimental approach that will ensure that you will always remember what it is that you study. It becomes transformative because your contribution towards your work environment and society becomes fact based and is supported by credible sources.”
What is next for Mkhululi?
“I intend to study further. Da Vinci has cultivated in me the culture of being a learner and I intend to use education to equip myself with the knowledge to contribute meaningfully in corporate and entrepreneurial business initiatives in South Africa.”

In the big wide world of research, Marcus is not alone

At least 50 people from around the world have read Marcus Desando’s master’s dissertation since he uploaded it to ResearchGate, an opensource networking site for scientists and researchers.
He uploaded his dissertation about a year ago and it clearly struck a chord among other researchers, focusing as it does on leadership regeneration in the performing arts in South Africa.
“Initially, a few people followed me and after a while I realised my dissertation was being read by people all over the world, including the United States, Europe and India,” says Marcus, an alumnus of The Da Vinci Institute and CEO of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT).
Marcus, who has since embarked on his Doctorate in management through Da Vinci, says ResearchGate has also made him aware of other researchers in his field, which could be useful as he makes progress with his Doctorate, which is about how to integrate the creative arts into the mainstream business.
“Sometimes I come across questions that other people have asked on ResearchGate where the answers might be relevant to my own research. An example was the question, ‘Do you think entrepreneurship principles can be applied to non-profit organisations?’,” he says.
This caught his attention since Marcus heads up an NPO and his Doctorate research is about how to integrate the creative arts into the mainstream business from the point of view of artists. “There tends to be a perception that the arts are a pastime or charity, and not revenue-generating.”
So it helps to know that the mainstreaming of the arts is a subject that concerns other researchers elsewhere, he says. “ResearchGate has opened my perception of the research world and the fact that there might be others out there who are doing similar work.”