Business Schools: Profile – University of KwaZulu-Natal

 Adriaan Viljoen

Sustainable business begins with local community development. Grow roots in your own environment, expand across South African soil and Africa becomes your hinterland. This conviction propelled the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership of towards a learning institution of recognised excellence and purpose. Award
The annual survey of Accredited Business Schools ranked the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) as among the top five business schools in South Africa, scoring an aggregated total of 7.66 out of 10. In the survey employers rated MBA graduates from accredited Business Schools in the workplace on 19 criteria including academic knowledge, application of knowledge in the workplace and entrepreneurial
skills, capacity and abilities. Dean and Head of the GSB&L prof. Theuns Pelser says the School differentiates itself from other SA business schools particularly by its local, regional and wider continental African focus


A Local Economic Development Partnership
In 2012 the School forged a partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA) for a Regional and Local Economic Development Capacity Building Initiative (RLEDI). The GSB&L as academic partner offers postgraduate
programmes aimed at promoting local economic research and learning, creates a coordinated and integrated programme of teaching, learning and applied research in Local Economic Development and builds a professional network of empowered graduates. The Department, on the other hand, funds the entire programme.
Prof. Pelser says it has been a winwin initiative. The RLEDI Programme addresses locality-specific development
problems to overcome current gaps in KwaZulu-Natal capacity, and more broadly, in South Africa. Similarly it empowers students with environmentally relevant knowledge and skills.

A Global Award
No surprise this Partnership Project gained the GSB&L another prestigious award. In 2014 it was honoured with the International Partnership Network’s Global Best Award for the best Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills Partnership in Africa.

Academic Programmes
The GSB&L offers as flagship programme the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, as well as a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies degree (MCom), a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Management (PGDLM), Doctoral Business Studies, the Doctorate
in Business Administration (DBA) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management Development Programmes (MDP) and an array of short courses and executive programmes.A Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship
empowers aspirant entrepreneurs and SME owners to manage new ventures effectively. The programme
is customised for working professionals in organisational leadership positions required to work in the dynamic and
complex environment of contemporary Africa and its transition agenda.

Other customised programmes grow leadership in the governmental arena, recently promoted managers
and even Leadership in “Turbulent Environments!” Academic learning by GSB&L’s 15 full time lecturers is complemented by practical input from a host of business executives and practitioners, ensuring
a blend of theory and practice in the student learning experience.

GSB&L is a Full Member of the Association of African Business Schools ( and a Member of the South African Business Schools
Association ( Its MBA Programme is internationally recognised and accredited by the Council on Higher Education of South Africa. It has students from several neighbouring states. GSB&L has gained a Three Palmes in the Eduniversal International rankings of business schools, a global higher
education ranking agency.

New Brooms …
Prof. Pelser was appointed Dean and Head of GSB&L as recently as April last year. Previously he was Director of the Graduate School of Business and Government Leadership at NorthWest University, Head of Regenesys Business School (RBS), and also had the benefit of private sector experience as Strategy Manager at Sasol. He holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the Potchefstroom University.

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