Amanda Blair

Founder and Owner of abpr, Berne, Switzerland

Curriculum and Industry Alignment
Tertiary School in Business Administration, Cape Town

April 09 - April 27, 2018


A wise mentor of mine once said, “If it can’t be written on a Post-it, it’s not worth saying.” I confess to having got through 125 Post-its during my three-week assignment at TSiBA in Cape Town. Our task was to turn extensive research on the workplace and graduate of the future into a unique and marketable curriculum concept. This needed to be both clear and appealing to all the decision-makers. Thanks to the incredible engagement and spirit of the team I worked with, I feel able to say the fruits of the collaboration were definitely worth “saying”. Even mor importantly, the mentoring mindset integral to TSiBA’s philosophy allowed us to test the results at a high and broad level immediately. This provided vital confirmation that the #Vision2020 curriculum approach and structure deserved to be listened to by industry partners in the next phase.


Start with the why

On day one my primary working partner, Dean Pearl Pugin, shared a quantity of excellent research to make Google Drive dizzy. This included detailed reports and forecasts on the world of work globally, as well as in South Africa, from diverse sources. Complementing these were transcripts of interviews carried out by Pearl with a variety of stakeholders over five months. The interviewees ranged from existing employers of TSiBA graduates through to recruitment specialists. From this information we extracted, analysed and debated a representative selection of core elements that would make up the context in which the graduate of the future could make a positive social and economic impact.

Building bridges to the how

Another key influencer of the quality of my assignment was Leigh Meinert, TSiBA Co-Founder and ad interim CEO. She swiftly involved me under the #Vision2020 umbrella that the curriculum project fits under. That enabled me to contribute actively to the accompanying rebranding project, as well as get first-hand experience of the parallel relocation. The latter included site visits with leadership mentors from South African business to evaluate potential locations in “vibey” districts. This combination was very helpful in my task of defining the “how” of the curriculum and formulating it in a way that can appeal to industry and prospective students. TSiBA’s culture of listening and questioning helped Pearl and I thrash out topics, seeing differences as opportunities to make brand TSiBA and its education offering unique. We jumped from Eureka to brain overheat and back to Eureka several times per hour in behaviour that resembled a busy navigation system, continually recalculating to find the best route to the desired destination.


So what?

An important milestone scheduled for the penultimate day of my assignment was an appointment at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) to present the new degree to Professor Eon Smit who chairs the Academic Advisory Board. When he said “I think it’s great!” many tense shoulders dropped several centimetres. The next step was a presentation to the TSiBA staff and external advisors to trigger further conversations on implementation. A finely tuned listening environment stimulated new inputs and perspectives to launch the next phases of this ambitious and exciting programme.


My personal criteria for accepting a B360 assignment is a positive answer to the question, “Will it benefit students?” With this one I intuitively felt it could, but had to take a leap of faith in terms of the detail. Having lived and breathed the atmosphere of this phenomenal, established institution for three weeks, I feel I have my yes. The development and realisation of #Vision2020 is set to differentiate the TSiBA offering from other business degrees on offer in South Africa and beyond. As a result of that, its future graduates will enter the world of work equipped to flourish in a setting of constant flux, where empowered networks replace silos. It was a privilege to be part of this journey and I’m grateful to all stakeholders that made this possible. Time will tell how big a footprint I left – I certainly left behind several walls full of Post-its and some inspiring colleagues and contacts.

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