Saying Mr Nhlanhla Nene has a strong background in finance and education is a complete and utter understatement. Not only was he our former Minister of Finance, but he also headed educational programmes throughout his career, whilst continuously growing his own educational background. Hence, when the humble Mr Nene was appointed as the interim director of the Wits School of Business, it was no surprise – at least not to us.
We took the time to pick Mr Nene’s brain about this new role.
Talking to Mr Nene
- How do you feel about being appointed as the interim director of the Wits School of Business?
It was one of the things I least expected; I did not think this was my area of competence, but I was truly humbled. That being said, I knew this was an opportunity to learn. I’ve made self-study and improvement a priority throughout my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been appointed to a position I’ve been completely qualified for; I‘ve always been asked to swim and not given the opportunity to sink. This is the same. Wits is one of the most prestigious business schools on the continent and rated highly across the world. It has produced some of the best minds and some of the best executives in the corporate world.
So I am humbled but also challenged and excited about the opportunity to make my little contribution.
- What are your plans for the Wits School of Business?
The school has faced challenges, which has led to a loss of intellectual resources. Hence, they are in need of a new director. That being said, it still stands shoulders above other schools in the industry.
I want to invest my learnings, while working with the current leadership, in building the Wits School of Business up to its former glory. I want the school to continue producing the kind of executive leadership it has produced over the years, and even to better in the current challenges.
We live in a completely changed world, both domestically and internationally; but I believe we are well-placed to respond to those challenges to produce the skills that our economy requires, the skills that our country requires and the skills that the world requires to be able to prosper.
We want to nurture the relationships between the school and the other stakeholders, but also with government. Part of the reason why we have challenges in state-hold entities is that we have not been deploying the skills required by these enterprises. It’s important to remember, although these enterprises are state owned they are still businesses and need to be run accordingly and sustainably. It is my belief that the Wits Business School can play a role in this space.
- What are the qualities you’re searching for in the next the Wits School of Business director?
We, the board and I, are looking for someone with a strong background in both the academic and the corporate world. However, this person will also need to be politically alive as this is the environment in which we operate.
- What advice do you have for the people you’ll be working with?
Well, we have a tough task ahead of us. We will all have to do our part and be cognisant of and continuously strive for a higher purpose. The success of the school is above all of us, and we’ll need to work towards that. If any reward comes to an individual, that is just a bonus.
The biggest achievement in life is seeing the fruits of your work, not the amount of money you make.
Image source: Wits