Africa's top business school and one of the world's leading consulting firms have joined forces to boost leadership and management capacity in Zimbabwe by launching an innovative strategic alliance in Zimbabwe.
The first-of-its-kind partnership between the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) and PwC Advisory Services, Zimbabwe, will see the two working together to co-design and roll out executive education across the private and public sector with a view to bringing world-class learning opportunities to companies' doorsteps.
Walter Baets, Director of the UCT GSB, says that the initiative comes at a time when the Zimbabwean economy - after more than a decade of decline - is reviving and the need for leadership, management and strategic skills, particularly at the top level, is more urgent than ever.
"Given the brain drain from the country over the past decade, there is a huge gap in terms of experience, knowledge and exposure in the current leadership that this initiative will go some way towards closing," said Baets.
"Zimbabwean business leaders - current and future - will now have access to the world-class educational standards of the UCT GSB - the school is ranked top in Africa and has several prestigious international rankings and accreditations - right in their back yard. This will spare them considerable time and travel expenses and offer a more efficient learning opportunity," he added.
Tinashe Rwodzi, Senior Partner at PwC Zimbabwe and Malawi, said that the UCT GSB was a natural choice for PwC. This is not only because the GSB is ranked top in Africa in many surveys, but because the school's entrepreneurial sprit, energy and forward-looking philosophy struck a chord.
"We wanted to find an organisation that matched the pedigree of PwC and one that understood the challenges of Africa," he said.
Ethel Kuuya, senior manager of the People and Change practice for PwC Zimbabwe and Malawi said "By marrying the deep knowledge and experience base of PwC and the GSB, we can bring to fruition solutions that address talent and capacity challenges and can help firms to grow and harness their intellectual horsepower."
This is the first major step beyond the borders of South Africa for the UCT GSB. Although it runs short courses in other African countries and recruits from across the continent, Baets said that this is the first time that the school will have a permanent footprint outside of South Africa. It is also the first business school in South Africa to take such a step. The move is part of the university's overall commitment to Afropolitanism - being relevant in the African context.
"This is an example of how a good African school like the GSB can reach outside in a useful way to contribute to the economic development and capacity building of its neighbours," said Baets.
Zandi Nkhata, Director of Business Development at the UCT GSB, said that the GSB will work with PwC to co-design bespoke, in-company executive programmes that respond to the unique challenges of Zimbabwean organisations. The GSB will also run some of its top open executive programmes in Harare.
"We expect a good uptake. The quality of Zimbabwean education has been the envy of many African countries. It is a country that thrives on educational development. The interest already shown in this alliance is really exciting and encouraging," she said.
The partnership was launched in Harare in October with an exclusive seminar on the GSB's full colour thinking learning methodology, which was enthusiastically received.
Nkhata added that they will also seek to draw on existing expertise at the University of Zimbabwe's School of Management, based in Harare, to enrich the learning context.