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Symposium a good platform for leadership development

15 July, 2017
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Public relations experts from 20 higher-education institutions around the country visited UKZN’s Westville Campus from 6 to 7 June 2017 for the Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education (MACE) National Directors’ Symposium.

A foremost South African trend analyst and self-confessed ‘professional cage rattler’, Dion Chang, delivered a keynote address on new industries and the skills required to drive them. Chang encouraged the audience of leaders in their fields to hire for attitude and to retrain for skills, emphasising the importance of a shift in thinking in order to ‘pivot in a new world order’. Robotics and the erosion of jobs, coupled with skills becoming obsolete in a digital world, were explored by Chang, who promoted remote and flexi working options to ensure a work/life balance.

The author of In the Driving Seat – Lessons in Leadership, Brand Pretorius, delivered an inspiring presentation on: ’Effective Leadership in Tough Times’. Pretorius emphasised that “leadership is not a right, it is a responsibility”, saying people respond better to love than fear.
“Before you can ask for a hand, you need to touch a heart.” He said servant leadership was crucial in inspiring teams, and explained the difference between a leader and a manager. “Well managed people are not necessarily motivated or inspired,” he said. In closing, he reminded the audience about the importance of introspection. “If you can’t lead yourself, you are unable to lead others.”

Chief Executive Offi cer of Universities South Africa (USAf), Professor Ahmed Bawa, reflected on the challenges facing higher education, and posed a solution: “We have to build caring institutions,” he said, stressing the importance of engagement and placing students at the centre of universities. UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, commended all those at MACE for navigating the “rather tricky and diffi cult [higher education] landscape”, and thanked participants for the ongoing support provided to vice-chancellors at universities throughout South Africa.

Parallel sessions at the MACE symposium included: ‘Mentorship and Coaching: Setting Standards and Breaking Boundaries’ by Mr Shawn Naidu; ‘Impactful Engagement with your Team: How to be Present, Listen Actively, and Create a Culture Inviting Trust’ by UKZN’s Ms Busisiwe Ramabodu; and ‘Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking: Linking Your Strategy to the Institution’s Business Plan’ by UKZN’s Mr Simon Tankard.

“The Symposium again proved the need for senior managers and executives to not only network, but to share and learn from each other. This year’s programme focused more on managerial skills development, which is a crucial and sometimes neglected aspect of our work. The Board will continue to tailor the programme to fi t the needs of senior leaders in Marketing, Advancement, and Communication,” said Ms Lacea Loader, MACE National Chairperson.

Photo (from the left): Mr Brand Pretorius, retired CEO of McCarthy Ltd and Public Speaker; Ms Normah Zondo, National Vice-Chairperson of MACE; Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN; Ms Lacea Loader, National Chairperson of MACE; and Prof Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa (USAf).

Contribution: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer, UKZN

Photograph: Albert Hirasen