HR Indaba Africa 2018: UCT GSB is one of just three triple crown accredited schools in Africa

The UCT GSB's Darren Ravens explains how the institution is preparing leaders for the future world of work.

With only a few weeks left before the inaugural HR Indaba, the anticipation from partners is palpable. In this article, we speak to the UCT GBS’s Darren Ravens about why he is looking forward to the event.

Give us an overview of what the UCT GSB is, how long has it been around and what its core mission is.

"The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB) is internationally renowned as one of a handful of business schools in Africa with the prestigious triple-crown accreditation with endorsements from EQUIS (the European Foundation for Management Development), AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), and AMBA (The Association of MBAs). As a top school with more than five decades of experience in an emerging market, the GSB has a responsibility to engage with its socio-political and economic context. It’s teaching, learning and research are directed towards building a more economically prosperous, more equitable, and more integrated continent. The school is constantly investing in quality scholarship and strong partnerships to support these aims through initiatives like the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership, the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development, and the MTN Solution Space.

"Our top-ranked academic programmes are structured to refine professional knowledge, enhance leadership ability and give individuals the skills and confidence needed to grow innovative new ideas into financially sound, long-term development solutions. Our offering includes the Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), MBA in Executive Management (EMBA), Master of Commerce in Development Finance, Master of Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation, a PhD Programme and the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice (PGDip). These programmes are constantly evaluated and refreshed to keep them current and relevant.

"The school’s internationally-rated Executive Education unit additionally offers a number of interactive short courses and leadership development programmes, as well as customised programmes for corporations, government and civil society organisations."

How do you differentiate yourselves from other competitors in your space?

"Firstly, we are one of just three triple crown accredited schools in Africa. Secondly, when it comes to the kind of programmes we have, it is clear that the UCT GSB places a significant focus on sustainability, values-based leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship."

Why have you signed up for the HR Indaba and what should attendees look forward to seeing from you at the event?

"UCT GSB is in the business of developing talent, whether that is through our top-ranked academic programmes, executive short courses, or customised education interventions targeting specific aspects of skills development. We are very much in the human capital business and the HR Indaba presents a great opportunity to engage with people and organisations that are also dedicated to developing working professionals. It’s important for the UCT GSB to stay connected to professionals in the learning and development space as it allows us to better understand the challenges faced, the human capital and training needs, and the market perceptions of the graduates we put into the workplace.  

"There is a trend towards lifelong learning as a strategy to cope with rapid and continuous change in the workplace. This means we need a new way of understanding workforces, managing career progression, and developing the talent pipeline.  At the UCT GSB, we want to provide thought leadership and reinforce our position as a leader in the corporate education space. Lastly, since the opening of our executive training facility in Sandton last year, the UCT GSB has put renewed focus on maintaining a presence at Johannesburg-based industry activations, and the HR Indaba is one such event."

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the HR profession?

"The world of business is facing a set of complex challenges that are unprecedented in terms of the impact of those challenges, and HR professionals find themselves at the forefront of the upheaval as they grapple with the myriad of issues resulting from the digital disruption age. It is HR that has to ready organisations for a future world of work characterised by ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.

"The jobs needed for the world of tomorrow largely don’t even exist yet. Beyond the technical skills that will undoubtedly be required for the fourth industrial revolution – which I imagine will have a lot to do with the ability to leverage big data, fintech, automation and artificial intelligence – organisations will need to be geared up to identify, recruit and manage in this context. The chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, believes that talent will become more important than capital in the fourth industrial revolution as mastering technological change requires human skills such as emotional intelligence and creativity and developing these essential skills will become a priority for HR professionals.

"Futhermore, Generation Z is entering the workplace, and as is the case with every generational shift, bringing with them an entirely different perspective to the workplace. If organisations are to thrive, it’s clear that the ability to attract and empower the ‘right’ people is going to be critical to building organisations that are dynamic and sustainable."