As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, with over 10 000 students, the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), led by Professor Lyal White, has a clear focus on African management and leadership in the local and global context.

The JBS was established in 2017 and forms part of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), consisting of more than 100 full-time faculty members. The school provides an interface for a business academia ecosystem, which stimulates and informs purpose-driven business practices with a collective impact.

Authentically African, and geared for Industry 4.0, the JBS has disruption and innovation at heart. Professor White notes, “These values act as pillars to support our strategy for collective impact and our desire to be a catalyst for connection on the African continent.”

From the strong foundations of the University of Johannesburg, with its rich academic heritage, the JBS is creating an accessible and progressive business school suited for Africa. “By embracing new technology to support teaching, the JBS will enable the creation of innovative new business models and produce visionary leaders geared for progress across the continent and connected to the world at large.”

In their quest to produce these disruptive business models and visionary leaders, all programmes designed and delivered by the JBS are grounded in the African context, with a strong global connection. According to Professor White, the programmes are geared for disruptors and entrepreneurs beyond the corporate climbers targeted by traditional programmes. “Development with a direct impact in the community, increasingly part of day-to-day business in Africa, underpins what the JBS represents and does. Industry 4.0 requires so-called soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant for Africa.”

Access to business education, especially in light of the management void across the continent, will be crucial, and online and distance learning will be essential in reaching previously excluded Africans, and necessary for the desired impact on the continent. The focus of the JBS is on developing and delivering bespoke options, with a keen focus on depth and creativity. “Like most strategies and operations in Africa, an alternative approach to the norm is not exempt from international standards. Africa needs a world-class business education with a local flavour to develop management competencies and build excellence, and this is the model and approach JBS has taken.”

Professor White notes that apart from the continent’s ever-changing social, economic and political ebbs, the JBS is equipped to bring world-class business education to Africa because the institution is academically very strong. “Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Also on the cards are online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve. “As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors.”

Read the rest of this article in the January/December issue of Fast Company SA, on shelves now.

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