Category Archives: work based challenge

Da Vinci @ Work: How Lenard finally found his voice

Meeting him today, it’s difficult to believe that an articulate, friendly person like Lenard Strydom was once shy and introverted and something of a loner within his working career. It’s true, he insists. “A couple of years ago, I was very insecure and scared to interact with people. I had a huge lack of self-confidence.”
Lenard compares his transformation from timid to self-assured to a homeless dog (Thor) that is adopted into a happy family. In fact, that was the analogy he used at his oral defence in February 2018, when he explained to a Da Vinci Institute panel what his BCom Operational Risk Management studies had done for him.
“That dog represented me: skinny, scared and without a voice. Then, through four specific modules and the mentoring I received, I found my voice.”
The four modules that changed Lenard’s life within business were Business Management, Professional Writing Skills, Systems Management and Innovation Management. “Those four modules were new to me, and they taught me a lot,” says Lenard.
Aiding his transformation was the mentoring he received from Da Vinci and his executive manager at his employer, Macsteel. “I never thought I’d be capable of studying for a BCom degree, but those four modules and the mentoring from Nival Porun and Da Vinci were a recipe for success.”
As he grew in confidence, new career horizons opened up for Lenard, who had started his working life as an operator at a steel mill and is now National Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Manager at Macsteel Service Centre SA.
Lenard received the news on 8 February this year that he had successfully completed his work-based challenge and completed his BCom degree.
“Three years later, I’ve finished! This degree gave me skills and knowledge and so much more, and I’ll never stop studying now. But it was the toughest challenge in my entire life, trying to balance work, home, family – a new baby – and my studies.”
When the going got tough, what kept Lenard motivated were his wife, Liechen, and his baby son Ulrich. “My wife would talk sense into me and I would see my son; they are my support structure. I want my wife to be proud of me as a husband and my son to look up to me as a father. That pushed me to complete, and I am so happy that I did,” he says.

“To achieve greatness, you need to believe in yourself, be consistent and disciplined day after day, month after month, and year after year. Never give up; never.”

Left: Lenard Strydom, BCom student, Right: Mark Fuller, Da Vinci Lecturer

Da Vinci @ Work: Meet Inge Le Grange

Take a positive view of health and safety for a change

Why do companies’ employees and management not always do what they are supposed to do – make the areas they work in safe and risk-free as required by legislation and to improve the work environment? Why do they take shortcuts that pose a safety or health risk? 

This dilemma had been troubling Inge Le Grange for quite a while. So when the time came to choose a topic for her work-based challenge as part of her BCom studies through The Da Vinci Institute, it was a natural choice. The specific question she wanted to answer was: is the active participation of employees and management essential for maintaining an effective safety, health and environment (SHE) management system?

“I chose this topic because, in working with different clients, I’ve noticed that employees and management aren’t always as engaged as they could be about SHE management,” says Le Grange, a SHE consultant at Total Risk Advisory Consulting (TRAC). “When things are not done the way they should be done, all kinds of things can go wrong. I wanted to find out how I can convince people to do the right things.”

Le Grange started her work-based challenge by reading everything she could about human behaviour in relation to health and safety.

“I read information from all over the world… Europe, the United States, Australia… and it all talked about the importance of getting directors, line management and employees involved if you want to maintain an effective SHE system.”
From negative to positive

Next, Le Grange held in-depth interviews with TRAC colleagues working with various clients. These interviews revealed interesting insights about the way people tend to view SHE matters.

“Employees often worry about getting into trouble if they report a deviation from the standards, even if it’s very minor. That’s the backwards-looking view, which says, ‘you are wrong and will be punished’. We need to move to a forward-looking view where the focus is, ‘let’s fix it’. Reporting should be seen in a positive light and positive reinforcement needs to be introduced.”

An example is the so-called incident/non-conformance report that must be completed when there is any non-conformance with SHE standards, even a light bulb that needs replacing. When any deviation at all occurs, a report must be completed and investigation done.

Degrees of severity

“Something like a light not working is very small, and could be closed on the spot, without doing a whole investigation,” Le Grange says. “On the other hand, an incident or injury must always be fully investigated to see what caused the non-conformance. There are degrees of severity. I felt the reporting process could be simplified and streamlined to distinguish between the different degrees of severity.”

With this in mind, she designed two different templates, one for reporting very minor issues that can be dealt with immediately, and the other for SHE issues that warrant follow-up and investigation.

Separating the two types could help dispel the notion that SHE reporting goes hand in hand with “getting into trouble”. That could, in turn, encourage employees and management to take a more active approach towards SHE management.

Le Grange has received the green light from TRAC to implement recommendations from her work-based challenge. “The company did an audit in June 2017 and one of the audit findings was that my recommendations should be put into action for implementation!”

Although she has already completed and passed her challenge, she is still coming up with more ideas to turn negative SHE perceptions into positive ones. “Perhaps a gold-star system…,” she muses.

Watch this space.

Da Vinci @ Work: Meet Jason Potgieter

No time to waste when productivity is at stake

If there’s one thing that irks BCom graduate Jason Potgieter, it’s time spent unproductively. “That’s my pet peeve; I can’t stand it. There are a multitude of deadlines here and if you don’t make the most of your time, it annoys me. The issue of productivity stood out for me straight away,” he says, referring to the *topic of the work-based challenge he completed as part of his BCom degree in business management, specialising in supply chain management.

True to his nature, Jason wasted no time in assessing the state of productivity at the Durban branch of international courier company Seabourne Express, where he is a branch manager.

Measuring productivity

“I explained to everyone at the branch that we were going to measure our productivity to see how we were doing and to make the best of what we have. I then sent out a questionnaire to all the staff to gauge their understanding of their productivity and where they are at. I also held individual meetings with the supervisors, because a lot of people will write what you want to hear, as opposed to the true state of productivity during the day,” he says.

His analysis and scoring of the data resulted in staff being grouped into three categories of productivity: unproductive, semi-productive and productive.

After checking the results for accuracy and reliability, Jason used the branch’s visual display system to show a flowchart of productivity at the branch, showing each person’s score. “I also sent out tips and suggestions on how to improve productivity during the day.”

For example, he sent out suggestions on how to delegate and manage time, and how to capitalise on good moods to get more done – all guidelines he picked up while doing research for his BCom degree.

Following up and tracking progress

A few weeks later, Jason sent out a second staff survey, went through the analysis and scoring process, again and again, displayed the new results for everyone to see. The results were positive: some of the lower scorers had moved up and some of the top scorers were under pressure to retain their strong positions, says Jason. “For those who like the recognition for all their hard work, there’s nothing better than having your name at the top of the list.”

His managing director was at his oral defence when he presented his results and asked afterwards when his system was going to be implemented at Seabourne Express branches nationally.

“That’s what we are currently doing,” Jason says. “The first set of questions have just come back and are being analysed, and by the end of the year, we will be able to gauge productivity countrywide.:

*The formal title of Jason Potgieter’s work-based challenge is, “Identifying low productivity and the tools used to manage productivity”.

Da Vinci @ Work: Meet Pieter Theunissen

Change is a package deal when delivering parcels

Change is part and parcel of the courier industry, and no one knows better than Pieter Theunissen that a change in one cog of the wheel brings change in all the others too.  He saw that first-hand when RAM Hand-to-Hand Couriers switched from manual to automated processes in its parcel-handling warehouses.

“We went from a 15-step process to a nine-step process, and everything worked fine in the warehouse but we suddenly had a large increase in the number of parcels coming back undelivered,” says Theunissen, RAM’s National Distribution Centre Manager. “It was clear that the new process was having an impact on Customer Services’ ability to cope with all the parcels coming through for delivery.”

That was about three years ago, about the same time as he enrolled for his BCom studies through The Da Vinci Institute. The sudden increase in the parcel non-delivery rate made the impact of change on customer services the natural choice for the topic of Theunissen’s work-based challenge.

He started off with some research on parcel distribution and delivery rates, and then tapped into the satisfaction levels of customers, using the company’s customer satisfaction survey results. He then introduced an employee satisfaction survey to gauge employees’ feelings and attitudes towards RAM’s parcel-handling processes.

Unblocking the bottlenecks

It quickly became apparent that a lack of teamwork was one of the biggest reasons for the parcel bottlenecks; another was the need for better coordination of deliveries between customer services and customers.

“I worked with the Customer Services Manager and we changed the whole process. We introduced scanners so that we can see in real time exactly where each vehicle is and when the customer has signed for a parcel. Customer Services also started making appointments for deliveries.”

Back in the warehouse, another innovation was the introduction of cross-functional teams of 12 to 16 people. “Each team consisted of operations people, customer services, drivers and finances, and each team had their own delivery targets and incentives,” Theunissen says.

This worked so well that before long, productivity was up and the non-delivery rate was down. “Three years ago, a team of 16 was handling 8 000 parcels a day. They can now push 22 500 boxes a day, and the delivery rate is high.”

Employee satisfaction was also up, as measured by the six-monthly employee satisfaction that RAM has regularly conducted since he took the initiative with the first one.

His work-placed challenge has had a definite influence on these improvements, and the company’s chief executive officer has invited him to keep on suggesting changes for still more improvements.

“For me, the exposure to senior management was one of the biggest benefits of my work-based challenge,” says Theunissen, whose BCom graduation was in September 2017. “We have developed a relationship and as a result, I can now go to management and tell them what I would like to do to help make this an even better business, and I know they’ll listen.”

Da Vinci @ Work: Meet Takalani Ndou

Child-headed household was the launching pad for Takalani

“Always look on the bright side,” is not a cliché for Takalani Ndou. Where others might consider it a hardship for a teenager to ensure the daily household chores were done and dusted, he believes it was an opportunity.

“Taking responsibility for running a household is like being the chief operating officer. I realised later that this is when I learnt to be a supervisor, to get people to listen when I talk and to feel comfortable with my management style. What I learnt aged 12 to 18 has been very handy at the workplace.”

Indeed it has. His leadership skills, honed as COO of the Ndou household, have brought him responsibilities and opportunities that would not normally be available to someone with (at the time) only a matric certificate. At the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which he joined in 1996, Takalani climbed the corporate ladder from operations controller to head of several departments on the strength of his leadership acumen and people management skills.

But qualifications count, and Takalani knew it. Enter The Da Vinci Institute, where he enrolled for a diploma in Management of Technology and Innovation (MOTI). “While I was studying towards my diploma, I had the opportunity to upgrade to a BCom specialising in operational risk, so I took it.”

From average to excellent

At school, he was an “average student”. At Da Vinci, he has excelled, earning eight distinctions for his BCom studies. “Da Vinci’s Mode 2 approach fits me perfectly. At school, sitting and listening didn’t work for me. At Da Vinci, I am allowed to ask those questions I need to ask. I compete better when I engage, and I’m practical. I look at things in a problem-solving way.”

The problem he sought to solve for his work-based challenge was safety related. “I chose my topic while I was head of Safety and was witnessing injuries and damage to property on site. These were, in some cases, caused by lack of compliance. This got me thinking:  Why do we continue having violations, leading to injuries and damages, while we have all the systems, policies, procedures and training available for our environment?”

So he formulated two key objectives for his work-based challenge: to analyse the airport safety culture and to identify the factors that contributed to that culture.

Takalani sifted through three years’ worth of safety records to identify safety trends, violations and serial violators. He also read avidly. “That was the best thing about my challenge. I read a lot. I’ve never read so much in my life, and my reading kept on taking me to new and different corners.”

Response points to need for culture change

The hardest part was the qualitative information-gathering, involving interviews with ACSA people in the operational, tactical and strategic (management) levels. “I appreciate everyone is busy but it was a challenge getting people to assist, especially in management levels,” Takalani says.

His main findings were that the safety culture required vast improvement due to a lack of effective communication.

Implementation is next – after some additional work. “Besides the fact that I have just completed my studies, I have realised this is a very important contribution that, if it succeeds, will form part of my legacy. I have decided to review the study and tighten some critical elements, as advised during my final presentation.

“As an example, I believe my sample size could be improved upon, and this has the potential of changing my findings, which will have an impact on my recommendations. This has now turned into something seriously personal!” he says.

“For the first time in my life, I can say without any doubt that I have done something meaningful which has the potential to not only change lives of people but potentially to save lives as well. The effective cost saving would be an added benefit for the airport community.”

*The official title of Takalani’s work-based challenge was, “The need for developing and implementing of a safety culture: An ACSA investigation.”

Nosipho’s challenge is to get everyone on board for internal audit findings

Nosipho’s challenge is to get everyone on board for internal audit findings

While company boards and senior executives generally understand the critical role internal audit plays in promoting good governance that does not mean everyone else always does. If Nosipho Kabeni had her way, everybody at Transnet Freight Rail would be fully on board in appreciating the value that internal audit adds.

“People don’t always understand that when we don’t close internal audit findings quickly and effectively, the consequences can be very serious for our revenue, reputation and certification,” says Kabeni. “For instance, if the external auditors come in and find an unresolved audit issue around quality, we could lose our ISO certification.”

Although she no longer works in internal audit, having moved on to Integrated Management Systems at Transnet Freight Rail, Kabeni retains a keen interest in the field and a firm believer in its business-critical nature. So when the time came to choose a topic for her work-based challenge as part of her BCom degree in Risk Management through Da Vinci, internal audit sprang to mind.

Seeking answers to niggling questions

“It has always niggled at me that people struggle to close internal audit findings timeously and effectively, and I wanted to find out why and come up with ways to change that,” says Kabeni, who originally trained as an analytical chemist and worked in a laboratory.

Targeting all six-business units of Transnet Freight Rail, Kabeni conducted an electronic survey among line managers, administrators and specialists. “I sent out 50 questionnaires and received 35 back,” she says, adding that the best response was from the administrative group, who load the findings of internal audits, followed by specialists who conduct audits. Line managers had the lowest response rate.

Her findings revealed a lack of enthusiasm among some line managers when it came to audits and audit findings affecting their business units. “They referred to heavy workloads and felt they are here to do transport; audits are not seen as core to their business,” she says. “Some said there are too many audits, while others said audit reports were full of jargon and were not written in a way that is understandable.”

A big problem that she identified was the “silo mentality”, especially when audit findings had to be addressed through inter-divisional collaboration.

Value of training and communication

Most of Kabeni’s recommendations for addressing the shortcomings revolved around training and raising awareness, particularly among line managers. She also recommended improving the simplicity and clarity of audit reports and involving line managers in the timing of audits so that these would not be conducted in their busiest periods.

Finally, she suggested that line managers’ performance in closing audit findings timeously and effectively be assessed as part of their annual performance reviews. Admittedly, this would not be easy to achieve. “We would need to put together a robust business case first,” she says, adding that she is still pondering how to take the findings of her challenge further. 

One thing she does know is this: she has a much better understanding of Transnet Freight Rail’s business than before. “My BCom studies and work-based challenge have helped me understand the culture and organisational dynamics, and also how to engage and relate to people. It takes an effort to work and study, but is definitely worth it.” 

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.”

Showcasing Da Vinci’s Research

Dr Mary Ritz is the Owner and Founder of Almenta International. She holds a PhD in Business focussing on Customer Centricity, an MBA with a concentration in International Business and an undergraduate degree in Marketing.
RITZ, Mary
Customer Management: Creating a sense making framework for developing economies

The overriding goal of the study was to determine if the customer management phenomenon should be treated and managed differently in different economic environments to improve its probability of success. This was based on the viewpoint that most of the literature on customer centricity seemed to be based on the developed world’s ways of thinking and doing, and the assumptions given were that these (often) western originated frameworks, would work in any socio-economic environment. However, if, as part of the study, the above was proven not to be true, the researcher indicated her need to develop such a framework for developing socio-economic contexts. The proposed framework consists of attributes that were considered best and most relevant for the developing world. Therefore, the main objective of the study was to address the phenomenon from a socio-economic perspective in the hope of offering new knowledge that can possibly assist people in the workplace to solve some of the challenges experienced in the customer management domain. The researcher’s underlying epistemological perspective is influenced by systems thinking. The relationship to the Cynefin Framework (Snowden and Kurtz, 2006), which makes reference to different market domains, was also referenced and adopted for the study. The researcher identified the customer centricity phenomenon as relevant to the Complex and Chaotic domains where context is unordered , which means there is no direct or obvious relationships between cause and effect, and problem-solving in these domains is accomplished by determining emerging patterns. Lastly, because the study was based on a particular socio-economic context, the researcher found it appropriate to base some of the thinking on Lessem’s (2001) principles of the “Four Worlds”. In addition, a literature review was carried out that confirmed the complexity of the matter under review by looking at some constructs of customer management (customer service, customer experience and customer relationship management). It was established how these components were complex in their own right. From the same literature review, certain aspects of the customer management phenomenon were identified, e.g. business performance and culture. A Grounded Theory methodology was followed utilizing a variety of data sources. The proposed customer-centric framework is based on the findings derived from a developing context, which in turn has been compared to a framework that was derived from the 5 customer management frameworks utilized for purposes of this research.

Academic supervisor: Prof B Anderson 


Dr Vulumuzi Bhebhe is the Executive Chairman of UI Group, a consultancy firm specialising in corporate advisory. He holds a PhD in the Management of Technology and Innovation, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing Research as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management.

BHEBHE, Vulumuzi

Total early stage development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs): Creating a sustainability framework for emerging economies

The study investigated the total early stage development of SMMEs in emerging markets, and the tributary objective of this thesis is to create a sustainability framework. The study’s pinnacle focus was on five constructs (Internal Market Capacity; Relationship Marketing Capacity; Innovative Capacity; Customer Satisfaction and Business Performance) that affected sustainability and performance of start-ups and SMMEs in emerging markets. These business performance constructs are comprised of one predictor variable (Internal Marketing), three mediator variables (Relationship Marketing, Customer Satisfaction and Innovative Capacity) and one outcome variable (Business Performance). The research results reveal that all the business constructs (Internal Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Innovative Capacity and Customer Satisfaction) are antecedents of business performance. However, it was also observed that paramount and central to these constructs for business performance is Customer Satisfaction. The analysis revealed that Internal Marketing positively influences the mediators and outcome variable in a significant way. Academic discernments drawn and pragmatic implications provided are based on the thesis’ findings.

Academic supervisor: Prof R Chinomona;
Field supervisor: Dr M Ncube 
Dr Rashid Abrahams is Senior Manager at Network Field Services: data and advanced services at Telkom SA since the beginning of 2009. He is currently responsible for assurance/fulfillment/projects and first line maintenance for Data and Advanced Services. He started his career in Telkom in 1984 and progressed through the ranks as Manager up to Senior manager – Operations.


A framework for broadband fulfilment and assurance in the telecommunications environment: A South African case study
Telkom SA faces a situation in which slow revenue growth is experienced primarily due to the decline in telecommunications traffic proceeds, while expenditure is escalating. The combined results of Telkom SA’s inability to rapidly respond to changing market conditions, shifting customer requirements and the decline in fixed-line business have affected profitability. For Telkom SA to succeed and stay relevant it should re-invent itself by continuously transforming from within a traditional telecommunications services provider paradigm by employing innovative services, state-of-theart technology and skilled people. The focus of the research was to benchmark the current network technology against international Next Generation Networks (NGN), and explore the present skills capacity and transformation of Telkom SA’s Fulfilment and Assurance services. It was to determine capabilities and capacities that could expand Telkom SA’s ICT services, and significantly reduce its fault and repeat report rates. Research findings and recommendations are presented in a framework for implementation of essential strategic imperatives. Timeous deployment of strategies could lead to building an invincible network, resulting in the successful turn-around of the current Broadband Fulfilment and Assurance service offering, and significantly enhancing Telkom SA’s broadband customer experience.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;
Field supervisor: Mr DC Phiri

Dr Musa Stefane Furumele is the Chief Executive of Gandlati Strategic Equity (Pty) Ltd. He is also a fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering.

FURUMELE, Musa Stefane

Front-end governance of large water infrastructure investments within developing economies: A South African perspective

The study aimed to offer insights into how front-end governance could be improved in pursuit of better project outcomes. It follows a qualitative exploratory research approach and embraces critical realism to emphasise the interface between the natural and social sciences. The study focused on multiple-case designs concerning large water infrastructure projects in their real settings. Sources of evidence include interviews and case-related documents. Research findings indicate that six salient elements of front-end governance influence the outcomes of large water infrastructure investments: 1) Large water infrastructure investments should be approached in a cross-cutting manner and planned to be multi-purpose and address broader societal challenges as access to water will remain the rallying point for social progress, sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation. 2) Clear and well-understood project-specific objectives, responsive to the needs and priorities of critical stakeholders contribute to better outcomes. 3) Strategic depth and flexibility, represented by consideration of major risks and iterative screening of project concepts within an interactive and adaptive decision-making process are important in securing a robust investment case and in turn, the accrual of favourable results. 4) While continual leadership is important in turbulent environments, strategic and timeous intervention is vital in salvaging those projects that seem destined to fail. 5) Empowerment and co-production of project outcomes with critical stakeholder, as opposed to mere consultation of stakeholders leads to better results. 6) While a supportive policy and regulatory framework together with enabling political, social and economic factors, is crucial, precise definition of roles and responsibilities of key parties and sensitivity to historical contexts is important. It is important that critical stakeholders are empowered and equipped to engage meaningfully during the conception of the investments. Four important interventions are proposed: focusing political leadership on critical points of strategic intervention; formulating multi-dimensional project definitions to secure robust investment cases; building the capacity of stakeholder groups; and the establishment of quality assurance protocols overseeing the front-end phase.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;
Field supervisor: Dr O Busari


Jennitha Chinniah

Ph.D. Management of Technology and Innovation, MSc Information Systems
Positions Held:
Chief Information Officer
General Manager IT Operations
IT Executive
Director at International Consulting Practice
Chairman of School Governing Body
Lecturer at CEEF Africa
Skills, Expertise & Experience:
Jennitha is an ICT professional with over 24 years of experience with qualified successes in Advanced Programme Management; Enterprise Architecture and Strategy formulation and implementation.

She is recognised for her exceptional skills in advanced business & systems analysis as well as Business Intelligence & Management information systems. Her leadership traits and astute customer relation’s abilities with particularly strong people-related and communications abilities is an asset to the organisation. She has managed multi-million rand Technology and Capital projects including the setting up of project offices for large to medium sized organisations. 

CHINNIAH, Jennitha
Data privacy and the Energy Distribution Market: Revisiting implications of the Smart Grid Framework

The study explores best practise information security and privacy principles as a systemic solution to the issues presently experienced in the smart grid. The Delphi technique was utilised to collect information from an expert information security panel to construct a SAFE framework implying Supporting Service; Assurance; Functional requirements and Enterprise Security Strategy, Architecture and Governance. This culminated from data being interpreted and constructed with the intent to outline all of the critical security considerations already in place. The assurance is data privacy in the automated metering infrastructure (AMI) and more specifically in the home area network (HAN). The interview technique combined with the outcomes of the SAFE framework was tested against three utilities that are currently rolling out AMI in South Africa. The findings were then presented by benchmarking three case studies against the SAFE framework demonstrating that the SAFE framework can be implemented to provide an assurance to other utilities on national and international level.

Academic supervisor: Dr MG De Kock;

Field supervisor: Dr H Geldenhuys


Dr Marlo de Swardt

Background information
Dr de Swardt is a skilled senior information, communication, and technology manager, combining strong business acumen with extensive experience in Human-Resource Management, Administration and Facilities, Strategic planning and execution, and Supply-chain Management.
He started his career in IT operations and progressed to Systems Development, Project Management, Budget Planning, Analysis, Design, Architecture, Consulting, Strategy, and General Management. Beyond his overall grounding business acumen and doctorate (PhD) in Technology and Innovation Management, he has built a personal style and brand upon his skills, experiences and accomplishments to be a strategic adviser on how to formulate, implement and execute a strategic plan.
His qualifications includes a PhD and MSc in Technology and Innovation from The Da Vinci Institute of Technology Management and a B-Tech, Information Technology from UNISA.
Strategy formulation, performance implementation and performance execution: Developing an integrated framework to enhance organizational performance.
The researcher conducted a quantitative study applying a positivist research paradigm combining the philosophy of ontology, epistemology and axiology in order to understand the social phenomena resulting in the failure of PM system in organisations. The rationale for the study was based on the global evidence of high failure rate of strategic formulation process where it is noted that almost 70 % of strategic plans are not implemented successfully.

A detail survey was undertaken across a spectrum of organisations. Through the use of a cross correlational check between research findings and a comparison with the findings in the literature it was concluded that key to failure is the disjuncture between the strategic plan and the PM system. The study was culminated with the development of an integrated framework which provides the key linkages between a well-developed strategic plan and an executable PM system. 


                                                          Dr Rean du Plessis

Rean holds a doctorate in the Management of Innovation and Technology and sees himself as an African with a passion to “unleash Africa’s wealth through leadership”. He has been involved in executive coaching, strategic leadership alignment and group interventions for two decades; and in leadership development, through his focus on leading leaders and in his career as an Industrial Psychologist for almost three decades. During his doctoral research with industry leaders in South Africa he came to the conclusion that successful leaders at the height of their careers are looking for cognitive stimulation in the form of complex assignments and the need to make a meaningful a contribution in the lives of others.
His focus in coaching is on strategy, enhancing business performance, influencing effectively at executive and board levels, career transition and increased self-insight and self-belief, understanding of own potential and focus. Rean believes strongly that people will deliver on deeply held beliefs and intentions. Coaching is a way to direct and support these intentions in order to achieve powerful business outcomes.
Rean’s philosophy and coaching approach is holistic and systemic and this has resonated with the many leaders he has coached during times of pressure over the last sixteen years.
Rean is currently a Director of Change Partners. He has led his own company which specialises in leadership assessment and development, recruitment/executive search and performance improvement interventions since 1999. During the 10 years he worked at Anglo American his focus included leadership assessment and development.
In addition, he has experience in having worked in the public sector for 6 years in the Department of Correctional Services.

QUALIFICATIONS• PhD in Management of Innovation and Technology with his thesis on the Spiritual Self of the Corporate Leader.
• Masters in Industrial and Personnel Psychology.
• Post-graduate certificate in Executive Coaching from Middlesex University UK.
• Du Pont’s Coaching Training for Sustainability in Switzerland.


The spiritual self of the corporate leader


The researcher initiates this study from a deep existential question: How does the transpersonal impact on corporate leadership within the context of deep ecology? The researcher convincingly follows Geisler and Geisler (2014) in separating spirituality from religion in defining spirituality as the ontological essence of the self, but from a functional stance, as ‘a yearning for guidance and connection with God’. The term God is understood simply as a cause greater than self. This anthropologically seated need is necessitated by the overwhelming issues that confront the corporate leader today. The researcher argues that the current complexities of life and management per se require a normative system that transcends human abilities. In this regard the content fully reflects the title of the script and the research focus makes a promising contribution to the development of a more holistic understanding of corporate leadership. The researcher found a qualitative approach, with reference to grounded theory, the best methodological angle to yield inductive research findings. In doing so the outcome is co-determined by corporate leaders with the potential of funding new theories that may serve as indicators for the future. Epistemological issues, ethical norms and personal values and world views are all synthesized into a coherent whole that follows a logical development of the train of thought. Due consideration is given to applicable matters one would expect to be covered by the study such as spirituality and God and the potential role of religion.

Academic supervisor: Prof B Anderson;
Field supervisor: Prof JJL Coetzee

Dr Elliot Kasu

Dr Elliot Kasu is a Zimbabwean, a holder of a PhD in Management of Technology and Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute of Technology and Innovation of South Africa, a Master of business Administration degree from Zimbabwe Open University, a graduate and associate member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Zimbabwe (CIS). He also holds a Diploma in Logistics Management from Pakistan School of Logistics. He is a competent academic, intellectual, researcher, consultant and expert in integral research, quantitative and qualitative research, facilitation, training, monitoring, evaluation, implementation, strategic development, innovative entrepreneurship development and financial management.
He possesses several years of public service and corporate experience at strategic level and has a deep knowledge in indigenous knowledge systems grounded in Africa. He has held several appointments up to director level in Zimbabwe’s ministry of defence, company secretary and finance manager for the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, Managing Director of Kasimboti Trading P/L, Finance and Administration Director of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and currently is one of the founders of Integral Social & Enterprise Research Centre (ISERC) where he is employed as a senior researcher, finance & corporate services director. As such, he is a creative and innovative strategist, consultant, researcher, public accountant, chartered secretary and team player with vast experience in strategic planning, leadership, human resources management, financial management, administration, logistics and corporate secretarial practice.  

Title: Ubuntupreneurship within rural communities: Creating community colleges for a developing economy

Abstract: The study utilised the four world rhythm, the 4Cs (Lessem and Schieffer, 2014) and the CARE (Lessem and Schieffer, 2009) pattern in collaboration with the Tangwena people. The ideas of ‘mushandirapamwe’ or collective wealth generation are indeed relevant for purposes of this thesis. The focus on ‘Zunde ra Mambo’ is a relevant security arrangement and indeed an effective way towards indigenous volunteering. The study has also indicated that the use of ‘permaculture’ could assist communities to create sustainable habitats by following nature’s patterns. The study has demonstrated a sincere focus towards ensuring meaningful life for the Tangwena community. The use of African Ubuntu values as tool of solidarity and interdependence seem to provide a solid foundation of African economic redemption, which in turn could lead to effective African economic humanism. The model ‘towards co-creation in Zimbabwe’ is well argued and structured. The story telling aspect of the research is informative which has truly reflected traditional values while African humanism has been well articulated throughout the thesis. The indigenous exogenous community-based learning and innovation research facility within the community seems to contribute towards the institutionalisation of the community college. The researcher followed the appropriate southern path and effectively demonstrated a good practice of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) aimed at community activation in alignment with the needs of the Tangwena people. The ‘ubuntuneurial spirit of agriculture’ ideology is sound, and, indeed an effective approach to solving communal poverty issues, which is the strength in the study.

Academic supervisor: Dr A Schieffer;

Field supervisor: Dr PC Muchineripi