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A Speech By Our Registrar, Samantha Naidoo: Academic Year Opening 2024

In a passionate address at the DaVinci Business School’s 2024 Academic Opening yesterday, we were privileged to witness a powerful vision for the future of education. Samantha Naidoo, our distinguished Registrar, laid out an ambitious roadmap for the year ahead, emphasising the critical role of academic and research excellence in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.


Her speech highlighted the business school's commitment to co-creating innovative learning experiences and underscored the importance of integrating academic rigour with real-world applications. Through initiatives like the redesign of the Moodle Learning Management System, the launch of the D@SH student helpdesk, and a series of student support workshops, DaVinci is setting a new standard for educational excellence.


The introduction of industry and academic leaders as subject conveners further enriches our curriculum, ensuring that our students are equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Join us as we embark on a journey of discovery, innovation, and growth at DaVinci Business School, where every step forward is a step toward creating a more sustainable and compassionate world.


Samantha Naidoo in ceremonial regalia at DaVinci Business School
Samantha Naidoo

Navigating New Frontiers: DaVinci's Vision for 2024 By Samantha Naidoo


To our distinguished guests, esteemed alumni and students, our Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Directors, Programme Director, respected academic team and staff, and to the broader DaVinci community, including those attending online, I extend a warm welcome to The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management’s 2024 Academic Year Opening.


As we commence this academic year, we are gathered today in the spirit of promoting both academic and research excellence. As an institution of higher learning, we are cognisant of our obligation to co-create new learning experiences, not just for our current student body, but for the benefit of the sector at large. It is an honour that we embrace with deep gratitude and great humility. It is a role that speaks to our highest aspirations. Our engagements and partnerships support our endeavours to generate bodies of knowledge that direct the learning experiences of our students towards sustainable development.

With academic rigour, DaVinci Business School embraces the mindset that nothing is as practical as a good theory. A well-developed theoretical understanding provides valuable insights and guidance for practical application and problem-solving in real-world situations. We are committed to translating theory into practice by employing principles of Mode 2 Knowledge Production in the student learning process, which engages with knowledge production that is founded on the principles of contextual application, transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity, social accountability, and enhanced quality control. This approach functions within the context of real-world application based on the premise that teaching, learning, and research initiatives are not strictly positioned within the parameters of a particular discipline-based theoretical framework but are rather situated within the broader context of an extra-disciplinary application. Students are therefore encouraged to interrogate the practices of their respective workplaces, organisations, or communities and, together with colleagues and the support of expert Faculty and Supervisors, co-create innovative solutions that are both relevant and current.


2024 will see the Institute make strides in improving the student experience, as well as ensuring that the institute’s policies, procedures and practices align with the Higher Education Practice Standards of the recently launched Quality Assurance Framework by the Council on Higher Education. In an effort to drive continued excellence in customer centricity, Davincians, together with the technical support of external stakeholders, have embarked on the phased redesign of Moodle, the Institute’s Learning Management System. The project is aimed at enhancing both the internal and external user experience, underscored by the innovative way in which we manage technology for maximum benefit.


The learning operations and governance portfolio is further excited to share the launch of the student helpdesk, aptly named D@SH. Students are now able to log a query online from anywhere and at any time with any department and receive a tracked record and direct response from the relevant DaVinci team member, thus improving the efficacy of responses to queries and transparency in discussions.


We are excited to be offering a series of student support and enhancement workshops on a monthly basis, kicking off in March, where experts will be hosting talks on topics that are relevant to our students, such as mental wellness, activating the mind as an adult learner, Design Thinking for work, and writing for research, to name but a few.


The launch of student chat groups with the Executive Dean LOG is an initiative that shines the spotlight on the student voice. This initiative is aimed at bringing to the fore matters that the students are passionate about and require the attention of the leadership team. The student chat groups have been implemented over and above the one-on-one calls, student surveys and other feedback mechanisms that are available.


Our commitment to expanding the diversity of our faculty has resulted in the introduction of subject conveners who are recognised industry and academic leaders in the areas of technology, innovation, people and systems. We were thrilled to welcome the first of these appointments - Henra Mayer as the Subject Convener of Innovation – Henra is a respected and well-recognised industry player, and we are excited to have her as part of the team and see the impact to our curriculum and student experience.


DaVinci considers professional development to be a fundamental requirement for all staff. We are particularly excited to share that two of our established academics at the Institute reached their Doctoral milestones at the end of last year. Dr Greg Tosen and Dr Mark Fuller had their doctoral degrees conferred at the October graduation ceremony, together with Dr Raymond Toga, from our Learning Coordinator team. Well done on this achievement, Colleagues.

The Institute continued to add yet another Membership badge to its list of achievements, in not only being approved as a Member of the Association of African Business Schools but also successfully submitting its application for AABS accreditation and having been assigned an internationally recognised Mentor in Dr Jean-Phillipe Ammeux to guide us to reach this next milestone.

In its strides to not just be a South African Business School but an African Business School, the Institute, through the guidance of a member of the newly convened Strategic Advisory Board, was recently approved as a CPD Licensed Body by the Engineering Council of South Africa. This will allow DaVinci to verify CPD Service Providers and validate CPD Category 1 Developmental activities. The recognition by ECSA is expected to open the door to cross-border initiatives in Africa.


Under the leadership of Prof HB Klopper, the research portfolio is expected to attract and recruit top talent in research in terms of faculty, partnerships and senior students. The research capacity of the Institute is expected to develop by focusing on theme-based research priorities in 4 domains of excellence, namely innovation, freight forwarding & customers, ESG and corporate finance. Thought leadership initiatives, such as MasterMinds, research seminars, focus group forums and doctoral showcases, will be prioritised in order to strengthen DaVinci’s research standing in the sector. The groundwork for the establishment of a research centre is currently underway, with engagements and discussions with key partners in progress.


While this day is largely about commencing 2024 with meaningful endeavours that promote the importance of teaching excellence and impactful learning that contributes to the communities that we serve, may you be reminded that our facilitators, supervisors and staff still require your support, our Industry partners,, as they strive to inspire, to ignite a spark of curiosity, and to nurture those seeds of knowledge that they impart to our students. Their dedication knows no bounds, their commitment is unwavering, for they understand the profound impact they have on shaping the future.


In their workshops and in their offices, they don't just impart information; they sow the seeds of possibility, they cultivate dreams, and they sculpt destinies. Let us celebrate these unsung heroes, for they are the architects of tomorrow, the guardians of wisdom, and the custodians of hope.


In striving to emulate their dedication, as we navigate the intricacies of daily existence and commit ourselves to lifelong learning, let us endeavour to create a more compassionate and sustainable world. May education not only be readily available to all but also deeply ingrained within our cultural fabric, fostering an environment where teaching and learning are cherished and celebrated by everyone.


In closing, I leave you with these words of wisdom from our CEO, Mr Frilk Landman; “The concept of proximity between industry and education is to create a circular personnel economy in which education can be tailored to meet industry and business needs”.


Thank you.


Samantha Naidoo

Registrar: DaVinci Business School


*The views expressed in this speech present the personal insights of the speaker, which are not intended to represent DaVinci Business School's official positions or beliefs.


 

Short Bio: Samantha Naidoo


Samantha Naidoo at DaVinci Business School
Samantha Naidoo

Samantha Naidoo is the Registrar at DaVinci Business School, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. With a robust background in education management, she excels in program management, business planning, academic report writing, and project management. Samantha's advanced business acumen, underpinned by impressive qualifications, equips her with a deep understanding of effective processes and systems. Her skills in resolving issues and implementing improvements are unparalleled, ensuring the institution's standards are not only met but exceeded.


Currently pursuing a Master of Education in Educational Management from the University of Johannesburg, Samantha also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the University of the Witwatersrand. A key highlight of her career is managing the development, accreditation, and registration of South Africa's first engineering higher education qualification offered by a private education provider, showcasing her leadership and innovative thinking.


Samantha is an Affiliate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Practitioners and Trainers and holds a Master Occupational Directed Practitioner (M.ODP) designation, further testament to her commitment to professional excellence. Samantha Naidoo is a forward-thinking education manager dedicated to fostering academic excellence and innovation at the DaVinci Business School.

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