Prof Theuns Pelser - Moving into the Future
The University of KwaZulu-Natal Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) is moving into the future with renewed vigour. Prof Theuns Pelser has been the Dean and Head of the business school since April 2015 and is already making a difference. The school has recently been ranked amongst the top five business schools in the Professional Management Review (PMR) annual survey of accredited business schools in South Africa.
The GSB&L scored 7.80 out of a possible 10.00, putting it in fifth place, one up from last year. The survey respondents (employers) rated the MBA graduates and students in the workplace, representing accredited business schools in 19 attributes/criteria including academic knowledge, application of knowledge in the
workplace, and entrepreneurial skills, capacity and abilities. Prof Pelser commented, "We are delighted with this ranking and it will be difficult to improve upon, however we intend to keep working at it."
The GSB&L is the only public university operated business school in KwaZulu-Natal. The school currently has 815 students in total of which 412 are MBA students. It has 24 academic staff, which includes the Dean, 13 lecturers: AADPS (Accelerated Academic programme) and 10 other permanent academics.
The new MBA programme from the GSB&L is accredited in South Africa by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and is internationally recognised. One of Prof Pelser's aspirations is to obtain international
accreditation. However, in order to achieve this goal, GSB&L needs to evolve further and Prof Pelser has a number of plans in place to provoke both change and growth. Prof Pelser said, "There is a great need to continue to turn the business school around and there are many stakeholders who want to see us succeed."
Competition to attract students in the higher education sector is growing remarkably. Universities are compelled to act as businesses and to be successful and credible must meet the expectations of a range of stakeholders. Consequently, GSB&L has to adapt to the various movements in the marketplace to avoid the
risk of being left behind.
In order to respond to these demands, and to counter its geographic isolation, the school currently has plans to relocate to Umhlanga Ridge. The area is currently experiencing enormous growth and continues to attract
blue chip corporate headquarters and residential growth. This move, which is pending approval from the University Council, will allow the GSB&L to be more visible and will facilitate greater interaction with private business stakeholders as well as provide greater opportunity for growth.
Students will be offered a more convenient location as well as improved facilities with "all the bells and whistles". The new building will be one which is associated with the expected prestige of a post graduate
business degree. A key focus is to provide improved customer service and resources to postgraduate students as well as corporate clients.
Part of GSB&L current proposal to the University Council is that the school be allowed to run executive education courses. The provision of executive education will also increase the GSB&L's client base and its
profitability. The business school has the potential to be a training ground to upskill employers for projects such as the King Shaka Aerotropolis, as well as the Cornubia and Sibaya precincts. There is a need to develop new middle managers and leaders to address the current scarce skills deficit in KwaZulu-Natal.
In addition, the executive education component is an essential requirement in applying for international
Prof Pelser said, "Separating the GSB&L campus from the Westville location will allow the school to forge its own identity." The school is unique in the South African environment providing a local and regional focus, as well as is a gateway to development for many students from the African continent. The vision of the GSB&L is to be a learning institute of excellence that is authentically African but is globally relevant and competitive.
While there are still obstacles to be faced Prof Pelser said, "We have put something on the table and are very optimistic about the GSB&L's future." ï®
Dean and Head of School: GSB&L University of KwaZulu-Natal: Prof Theuns Pelser Tel: +27 (0)31 260 7172