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Navigating the Symphony of Education: Dr Raymond Toga's Doctoral Odyssey

Raymond Toga, doctoral candidate and Programme Convener at The DaVinci Institute, has remained finely attuned to the profound symphony of both his professional and academic journey; as a testament to his unwavering commitment, he has recently culminated his vigorous doctoral studies and is set to don the apex qualification’s regalia later this month. With great enthusiasm, we extend our glee in presenting his narrative, encapsulating the challenges and invaluable wisdom garnered along this academic quest...

A Career Rooted in Inclusive Education and Dynamic Transformation

When queried about his professional trajectory, in his own words, Raymond Toga considers it “a young, continuously fulfilling and dynamic career in the field of education, driven by my unwavering passion for its transformative power.” Raymond further provides a comprehensive account: “My career has been characterised by a student-centred and collaborative approach, with a strong commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse learning environment where all individuals are valued and respected. My journey in education began as an academic tutor and research assistant at the University of Fort Hare from 2009 to 2010, during which I also pursued and earned my Master of Commerce in Industrial Psychology. After graduating, I transitioned into private higher education, where I lectured on various commerce modules. Subsequently, I joined Damelin as an Academic Manager, where I held responsibilities encompassing the effective management of campus operations, ensuring a conducive learning and training environment, and cultivating client relationships to achieve customer satisfaction … My journey in education continued to evolve as I became part of The DaVinci Institute team. Over the years, I held various roles in the research office and learning operations, contributing to the institution’s educational mission. I am privileged to support doctoral students in their postgraduate journey in my current role. This task resonates deeply with me as I have personally experienced the challenges and triumphs of this path.”

Challenges and Solutions: Raymond's Exploration of Challenges Facing Private Higher Education Institutions

An individual with an unquenchable curiosity for knowledge and an unwavering dedication, it is hardly astonishing that Raymond has been deeply engrossed in his academic endeavours in recent times. Engaging in his academic pursuits, he has navigated moments of memory-making, deep introspection, and a sense of eager anticipation for the future. Consequently, Raymond has embarked on a profound journey of self-exploration and personal development through his doctoral qualification – Doctor of Management in Technology and Innovation – of which the thesis is entitled: “Private Higher Education Institutions and the New World of Work: A Strategic Framework for Resilient and Agile Business Management”.

In his study, Raymond recognises that Higher Education (HE) and modern commercial enterprises are both experiencing substantial changes due to a range of disruptions, including technological advancements, socio-political shifts, climate change, and economic fluctuations. These disruptions, as Raymond purports, bring about uncertainties, complexity, and the necessity to adapt to evolving environments. Similarly, Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs), much like businesses in general, confront a variety of such disruptions in their operational landscape.

Thus, his research seeks to explore challenges facing PHEIs in today's rapidly changing business environment, and further aims to gain a deeper understanding of the strategies and practices employed by PHEIs to manage their businesses and identify potential areas for improving their resilience and agility. The literature review highlights the current approaches and identifies gaps in the existing literature. It reveals that while some studies have examined disruptions in commercial enterprises, limited research focuses explicitly on PHEIs and their response to the changing business landscape, Raymond notes.

“This study’s main findings reveal PHEIs' challenges in managing their businesses in a rapidly changing environment. Additionally, a Resilience and Agility-Building Framework (RABF) was developed based on insights from the lived experiences of the PHEI participants interviewed. This framework offers practical guidance for PHEIs seeking to enhance their resilience and agility in the face of disruptions. The conclusions drawn from this research emphasise the importance of adopting innovative business practices to promote agility and resilience in a disruptive environment. PHEIs must embrace digital technologies and tools to enhance their operations, acquire new skills and competencies, and embrace new working methods such as remote and flexible work arrangements. These findings have implications for PHEIs in navigating disruptions and thriving in the rapidly changing business landscape. Overall, this thesis contributes to the existing knowledge by providing insights into the challenges faced by PHEIs and offering practical recommendations for improving their resilience and agility. The research underscores the significance of innovation, adaptability, and leveraging opportunities presented by the 4IR/5IR revolutions for businesses to succeed in the evolving landscape”, accords Raymond.

Unveiling the Attributes That Define a Successful Doctoral Journey

When queried regarding the personal traits that have facilitated their pursuit of knowledge, individuals emerging from this educational odyssey tend to romanticise its wonders, yet Raymond chooses to provide a nuanced perspective, expressing in a thorough and all-encompassing manner thus: “Doing a doctorate requires a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. It’s the beginning of an exciting journey that usually leads to new networks, friendships and opportunities. A successful doctoral journey is a challenging and rewarding experience that requires a combination of personal attributes and characteristics. These attributes helped me navigate the rigorous demands of my doctoral journey and immensely contributed to the overall success of this qualification.”

Concurrently: “Throughout my doctoral journey, a deep passion for my research topic and a strong motivation to make a meaningful contribution to the field were vital. The journey was long and demanding, and this genuine interest in my research topic kept me focused and committed. Perseverance was crucial as doctoral studies can be mentally and emotionally taxing, with setbacks being common at every step of this remarkable journey. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, was essential to cope with the inherent stress, criticism, and rejection in the research and academic environment. Self-discipline played a significant role in managing the self-directed research and study involved in this journey. It required me to manage my time diligently, set goals, and stay disciplined to make progress. My strong sense of curiosity and a desire to explore new ideas and questions were also vital.”

Raymond emphasises the paramount importance of critical thinking in the realm of top-tier research. His journey demanded an adept skill in critical analysis, tackling intricate problems, and assessing existing literature. Diligence and conscientiousness were non-negotiable attributes; effective communication, whether in the written word or through spoken discourse, stood as the linchpin for conveying his research discoveries and ideas. Juggling a vast array of data, literature, and research materials was a doctoral imperative, and his adept organisational skills ensured he never missed a beat. Alongside these, according to Raymond, a keen grasp of emotional intelligence became pivotal in fostering effective teamwork, resolving conflicts, and safeguarding personal well-being.

Raymond's Journey Beyond the Thesis, Embracing the Future with Enthusiasm

It was a path, as Raymond realises, that has been “filled with abundant lessons, tears, moments of courage, and doubt. It is an affirmation of my capabilities and strength. Despite encountering various arduous trials throughout my journey, I am grateful for the divine grace that enabled me to conclude this research successfully. I always remembered that it is persistence that propels progress forward.”

Peering into the future, Raymond's remarkable voyage persists – he discerns and adds to his narrative the anticipation of globetrotting, cherishing precious moments with his significant other, companions, and kin, all while concentrating on self-improvement. This pursuit encompasses the establishment and attainment of personal objectives and the nurturing of novel proficiencies.

“I am enthusiastic about the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead in the realm of education. I am confident that I can continue to make significant contributions to the field. My doctoral journey, which has unfolded in recent years, stands as one of the most memorable and enjoyable chapters in my professional life, further fuelling my commitment to education.”


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