NWU Vaal Leadership Summit – Right time, right place

Annette Willemse -- Sun, 08/16/2015 - 13:31

NWU Vaal Leadership Summit – Right time, right place

A much-needed discussion on strategic leadership at precisely the right time and place. This was the sentiment of several high-level speakers during the recent inaugural NWU Vaal Leadership Summit, hosted at the Quest Conference Estate in Vanderbijlpark.

The summit saw captains of industry and business, members of the national media fraternity, entrepreneurs and representatives of both civil society and government come together to share insights on strategic and dynamic leadership practices.

The aim of the summit was to create a platform from which intellectual capital could be shared and, by doing so, contribute towards sustainable and innovative leadership in all spheres of the community. In addition, the summit aimed to support the sustainable future, growth, and development of South Africa and the continent by exploring best-practices, ideas and lessons from visionary and forward-thinking leaders. Proceeds from the summit will furthermore be channeled to support needy and deserving students in the form of bursaries and support towards the Meal-A-Day initiative.

High-level speakers

The summit boasted with an impressive line-up of speakers, including the likes of: Advocate Thuli Madonsela (Public Protector of South Africa), , Geoffrey Qhena (CEO: Industrial Development Cooperation), Charmaine Lemao (HR Director: Nissan SA), Suzanne Ackerman-Berman (Director: Transformation, Pick n Pay), Stavros Nicolaou (Senior Executive: Strategic Trade Development, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd) and Abe Thebyane (Group Executive: Human Resources, Nedbank Group Ltd).

Cllr Simon Mofokeng Prof Herman van der Merwe Prof Dan Kgwadi, Vice-Chancellor

The welcoming address was delivered by Cllr  Simon Mofokeng, Executive Mayor of the Sedibeng District Municipality – and postgraduate alumnus of the Vaal Triangle Campus.  In his address, Mr Mofokeng alluded to the fact that the history of the world should – at any given time, be viewed as a biography of the men and women who take up the baton of leadership. He furthermore said that leadership should be viewed as both a science and an art and that contrary to popular belief these two concepts are not disconnected but rather vital links in the chain of visionary leadership.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela Mr Stavros Nicolaou Ms Charmaine Lemao  
Ms Suzanne Ackerman-Berman Mr Abe Thebyane Mr Geoffrey Qhena  

Topics under discussion

The topics under discussion encapsulated the following themes:

Thriving during uncertainty and complexity – a leadership challenge

The role of Chapter 9 Institutions to deepen democracy

Unleashing the power of partnerships

Working towards sustainability and beyond – building blocks to business success

Entrepreneurship: the nemesis of unemployment

One of the prominent themes that emerged from the discussions was entrepreneurship. According to Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology – and the programme facilitator on the day, it is “encouraging” to note that more and more executives are acknowledging the power of entrepreneurship. One of the speakers who were particularly outspoken on the subject of entrepreneurship – Ms Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, highlighted three important teachings of South Africa’s young democracy that speaks directly to the heart of entrepreneurship: (1) Teaching others the capacity to change; (2) teaching society to absorb new and innovative concepts and, (3) teaching –especially young adults, the capacity to learn from failure.  According to Ackerman-Berman entrepreneurship teaches humility, patience and the realization that there is no such thing as a quick fix to solutions.

A highlight on the day was the presentation by two representatives of the Campus’s Young Entrepreneurship Business Organisation – or YEBO, to the summit goers. Their message was straightforward: the youth of South Africa are problem solvers and should not be overlooked.  The YEBO student organisation – a first of its kind in South Africa, boasts with more than a 1000 members and is coordinated from within the bHive Enterprise Development Centre on the Vaal Triangle Campus.  The YEBO’s enjoyed a lot of praise and good wishes from all the delegates.

Niel Kruger, YEBO Niel Kruger and Nceba Magodla Nceba Magodla, YEBO

According to Prof Van der Merwe the NWU Vaal Leadership Summit is set to become an annual event.