USB-Executive Development (USB-ED), the public training company which forms part of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, recently achieved the exceptional honour of being selected as one of the world's top business training institutions.
This follows after the Financial Times recently announced its annual international ranking for leading management training institutions in which the USB-ED was ranked 45th out of a total of about 3 500 business schools world wide. This resulted in USB-ED sharing the world stage with internationally recognised business schools, such as the well known Harvard Business School, which was awarded the first place and Stanford University (GSB) which came in tenth, as well as Duke and the London Business School.
The ranking is compiled following interviews with students in management training programmes of the various business schools about their experiences. The interviews are conducted by an independent marketing research company on behalf of the Financial Times. Last year a total of 4 000 students were interviewed for the ranking.
USB-ED's CEO, Frik Landman, said the fact that the company was placed so highly on the international ranking is an indication of the high quality of training which is provided by the USB-ED. The quality and importance of the client is always placed first in our branding and programmes. When the company considers strategies, programmes and partners, the aforementioned forms the foundation of our decision making,” he said.
Regarding the USB-ED he said that private profit orientated business schools within a business relationship with a university would in the future receive increasing stature. Such a model would be able to contribute significantly to alleviate the gripping shortage of business skills and leadership in Africa, without placing the pressure of financial support on the relationship.
The emphasis of the model falls to a lesser degree on ‘schooling' and more on ‘business', and thus creates the opportunity for the business school to put into practice what is being taught to the client.
Last year the company became the first management development company within a business relationship with a university to obtain BEE accreditation, with the chief executive of Wiphold, Louisa Mojela, and well known businessman Vincent Raseroka joining as partners with the USB-ED. Mojela has been acting as the chairperson of the company since the inception of the USB-ED in 2001. Wiphold focuses on the economic empowerment of black women.
Landman maintains that these types of training companies can, inter alia, pave the way for partnerships with companies to establish their own, as it were, internal training academies. Such own training academies should not, however, be regarded as competition by business schools. The role of training companies, such as the USB-ED, is to help design these training academies, to establish them and possibly to assist in management and in providing facilitators, content and process.
“The independent route in management and leadership development in close cooperation with a university is the way forward. It is such that subsidies to universities are becoming increasingly less. Private training companies are also the logical manner for universities to determine if they can initiate an additional stream of income. The prerequisite is naturally that such companies are managed profitably. The latter ties in precisely with an aspect about which the authorities are concerned, namely that such companies could disappear from the scene with very negative consequences for current students and alumni.
“The traditional training model does not appear to be attainable in the long term. Most likely not even in the case of the MBA programme, but even more so, not in the case of other traditional development programmes,” said Landman.
The operating of a business school as an independent and profit orientated business entity which must be accountable to its shareholders, provides urgency with respect to initiative, creativity and business orientation.
The USB-ED was established in 2001 with the University of Stellenbosch, Naspers, Bosal International and founding members as shareholders. Naspers' shareholding was made available last year from which the BEE transaction followed.
The USB-ED's activities, which are focused solely on profit and do not receive grants or subsidies, exists in essence out of public training programmes which contribute around 35% of the company's income and partnership programmes and consultation which are responsible for around 65% of the income.
Public training programmes are general programmes which are presented by the USB-ED for business sectors where there is a demand for management and leadership skills. The combination of partnership programmes and consultation is unique in South Africa and is regarded as a very strong and growing part of the USB-ED's activities. It involves company specific interventions where the USB-ED goes to a company and designs a unique programme around that which the company requires, in such a way as to implement a strategic adaptation.
According to Landman these company specific programmes are made available through the USB-ED countrywide and even throughout Africa. While the programme is compiled at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, it can be presented at any venue in Africa. The USB-ED is currently involved in such programmes in other African countries, such as Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
An important aspect of the company specific programmes is that there is an adaptation between theories, and the practical applications thereof in the work place. The theory and practice are finely interwoven to unlock true value for a company.
“While the USB-ED has an interdependent relationship with the University of Stellenbosch Business School and shares in the USB brand, it enjoys the full independence of a public training company. The model is extremely successful and is able to make a tangible difference with regards to the development of management skills and leadership on the African continent,” said Landman.
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