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 USB-ED reflects on Heritage Day

2014-09-23 12:00
Issued by MediaVision on behalf of USB-ED
Heritage Day - Infographic.jpg

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

- Albert Einstein

USB Executive Development imagines and plans for a sustainable future, forged by a network of globally responsible leaders. A strong foundation for this vision has been laid to also grow beyond our borders further into Africa. To look to the future, one also has to gaze upon the past. Heritage is a collection of our inherited traditions, monuments and culture. On this Heritage Day we would like to pay homage to the journey the company has taken thus far.

It was with imagination and a sense of ‘practice what you preach’ that USB Executive Development (USB-ED) was initiated in 1999. If you educate people on how to do business, why not do it as a business yourself?

The basic idea was to do business and generate revenue via USB-ED certificate, or open programmes. With the blessing of the then Stellenbosch University rector Prof Andreas van Wyk, USB-ED was established in 2001 as the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). With a board of directors and investors, the USB-ED venture was imagined to be a unique provider of open programmes to meet the local need for business learning. This proved to be nearly a first in the world.

It was Dr George Lindeque, who with two associates and friends harboured the idea of a USB-ED for a long time, who became the first CEO. He imagined building a catamaran, with an academic hull, a business hull and a platform joining the two. This analogy, providing speed, quick response, and little energy required for massive output, is still with USB-ED today.

As with many businesses, there were challenges, hurdles, imperatives, potential risks and the university mentality vs. the corporate mind-set. But in 2005 this nevertheless produced a turnaround with the first net profit. Positive developments followed with expenditure being brought under control, growth, moving into Africa and beyond and creating international links. A significant BEE deal with WIPHOLD, a company focussing on the empowerment of women, was signed in 2007. Revenue increased and in 2008 USB-ED was deemed as financially independent.

In 2007 USB-ED opened an office in Gauteng and seven years later now has an office in Kwa-Zulu Natal completing the ‘golden triangle’ of trade within South Africa.

The imagination with what can be achieved went further in 2008 when a partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) was confirmed. CCL is one of the world’s top ten business schools and internationally recognised experts in the field of leadership development. This was followed in 2009 by a partnership with the top UK based University of Lincoln. The year was also marked by internal growth through the establishment of centres at USB-ED. These centres are supplemented by a number of strategic partnerships, essential for exposure to the best learning and research practises.

Management programmes are now actively presented in 11 Sub-Saharan African countries, with agreement for a presence in Tanzania and Ethiopia recently reached, and executive development services in 5 other African countries.

USB-ED realises the importance of sound research to support both academic and practical learning. With this in mind, it inaugurated the following Centres of Excellence.

The first was the Centre for Project Management Intelligence – in 2014 to be changed to the Transnet Centre for Business Management of Projects after a sponsorship agreement with Transnet SOC Limited. In 2009 the Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship was established with its well-known and successful Gap-year programme. Imagination went further in 2010 with the establishment of the Centre for Business in Society with its focus on research in corporate responsibility and sustainable development in business to provide for best practice benchmarks. In 2014, the Centre for Positive People @ Work is the latest addition. Their mission is to improve the organisational effectiveness by helping the management of organisations to improve the performance of their people, themselves and their companies.

In 2008, USB-ED was ranked 45th in the combined category for open and customised programmes of the esteemed global Financial Times ratings. This was a major feather in the cap and imagination was beginning to bear fruit. Being part of the top 50 business educators in the world was repeated in 2011 and 2013. Both open and customised USB-ED programmes reached the top 100 on their respective categories the past few years.

USB-ED is beginning to go everywhere, which is reflected by the company receiving top honours from in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014 with the latest being top executive development provider in Botswana.

One can only thank the USB-ED pioneers for their imagination and taking the company everywhere. The vision remains, to see leaders across Africa and beyond serving others with wisdom and courage.
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