Start main page content

Business Development during Covid-19 times

- Kemantha Govender

Starting a new position during Covid-19 comes with its own set of challenges. The WSG's new Business Development Manager, Raesetsa Hopane, talks to us.

Hopane was appointed as the Business Development Manager at the Wits School of Governance in 2021. We caught up with him to chat about his experiences thus far at the Executive Education Unit.

KG: You started your role during a precarious time. How did you adapt and how are you finding your new position?

RH: It probably was not an ideal time to join an organisation and start working from home without having being able to physically met your team, however, it is an honour to join an almost 100-year-old institution despite the circumstances.

The focus in the first quarter of joining was to understand the landscape and the mandate for the role and meet with key stakeholders internally and externally. That process helped me adapt and start working with the team. I was previously in the ICT Sector for more than 10 years and joining a different sector, Higher Education, will have its own challenges but I have been fortunate to work with a team that is willing to help and guide me, especially from the School’s leadership including Adjunct Professor Trevor Fowler (Director of Executive Education), Professor Mzukisi Qobo (Head of WSG) and our Finance manager, Humbulani Ndou. The discussions I have had with our clients have also been reaffirming.

KG: How did Covid-19 impact EDU’s business and what were some of the steps taken to address these challenges?

RH: Like most businesses, 2020 was a difficult year for the School. Having to pivot to virtual classes while our clients are grappling with the new normal with kids studying from home, for example, was challenging.

That said, the team has done well overall to position the School as a training institute of choice by offering excellent customer service, attending to student queries timeously, working with our experienced facilitators to ensure we offer our clients high quality education which is expected when you enrol with a premier school of governance in Africa. We are grateful to our clients for continuing to trust the School with their educational needs because without them we could not have pulled through the challenging period businesses went through.

KG: What do you enjoy about your job the most?

RH: The best part of my job is that I get to work with academics and practitioners in building the right educational content necessary for our clients. The research our academics do comes alive in our classes and our clients value that.

We also work with experienced practitioners who are passionate about teaching and learning which allows us to bring the best of both worlds to our clients. The best part remains meeting with clients albeit remotely, so I look forward to meeting majority of them in 2022.

KG: What can people expect from you and your team in 2022?

RH: We have exciting things coming up in 2022 and our clients are going to love them for sure. First, we will start with the roadshow that will see us go across the country to connect with our clients as we look to rebuild state capacity. We will be hosting monthly webinars that gives our current and prospective clients highlights of what they can expect in some of the new courses we are launching. The accelerated migration to digital for our clients meant they were faced with a variety of challenges that required them to build competencies which they previously may not have had. We have courses that will help them enhance those competencies.

The state of our State-Owned Enterprises at a leadership level leaves a lot to be desired for and we have some exciting courses that will help us contribute to rebuilding that aspect of state capacity at a board and executive level. Lastly, our flagship municipal finance programme has launched a course for middle managers and interns, offering 15 unit standards, that will be offered both as contact and online classes giving our clients greater flexibility and convenience which they need. We will be having masterclasses once every quarter on key areas of interest in the governance space. Overall, it is going to be an exciting year and I look forward to meeting our clients and helping them address their educational needs.

KG: What were some of the courses that were run this year?

We have had several courses:

    • Programme and Project Management
    • Economic and Development Policy (in partnership with Old Mutual and South32)
    • Government Elections (designed and delivered by the IEC CEO, Mr Sy Mamabolo)
    • Research Conceptualisation for Public Sector Researchers
    • Civilian Oversight by Community Policing Forum with a Train the Trainer component
    • Entrepreneurial Skills Development Within the Transport Sector (in Partnership with City of Johannesburg Transport Department)
    • Training on African Continental Free Trade Agreement
    • Municipal Finance

Overall, we have graduated more than 400 students in Executive Education this year and our ambition is to double the number in 2022 so that we can have the greatest impact in contributing towards rebuilding state capacity. We are excited about running more classes next year, key municipal programmes tailored for our new councillors that will be partially sponsored by our partners South32 and Old Mutual.