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.