16 November 2021, Johannesburg, South Africa. HENLEY Business School Africa has set off on a three-week programme of graduations – conducted virtually for a second year in a row, because of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.Beginning with the MBA programme, which saw 201 graduates receive the business school’s flagship qualification on Tuesday November 16 and Wednesday November 17, the next to be virtually capped by Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley were the 86 students on the school’s Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice, the gateway qualification to the executive MBA. 

These ceremonies will be followed by a further 14 virtual graduation ceremonies with the final one on Thursday December 2, as the business school rewards students on each rung of its unique ladder of learning as well as the many executive education students sponsored by their companies who have completed higher certificates, advanced diplomas and even post graduate diplomas in management practice. Henley’s remarkable growth will see over 1800 students graduating in 2021 up from 30 in 2010. 

“We are incredibly excited,” says Jon Foster-Pedley, “as an educator, this is the highlight of my year – every year, when I see the absolute joy among the graduates who have come to the end of this particular journey realising that they have actually done it and now have the tools to unlock their potential. 

“We have always prided ourselves on building the leaders that build the businesses that build Africa. As we prepare for a life post-pandemic, this mantra has become even more relevant and vital if we are to build back better.”Foster-Pedley said he was proud of the efforts that the graduates had put in. 

“It’s not easy to study when you’re holding down a job, building a career and being a spouse and parent as so many of our students are. It’s exponentially tougher in the middle of the kind of restrictions we have all endured as part of the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The people who we attract to study at Henley Africa are a very special kind, matched by the faculty we have teaching them, drawn literally from all over the Henley global community.”This year, he said, had been both challenging and rewarding. 

“We’ve continued to innovate in how we teach, how we prepare for a return to campus and how we offer blended education that is both-real time and asynchronous; physical and virtual. We have also begun to truly unlock the potential both of the school, its students and its faculty in some of the cutting-edge research we have been publishing which is both highly contemporaneous and relevant to the South African pandemic experience.”This is just the start, he said, 2023 would see both the research output and the scope and scale of innovation increase exponentially. 

“But for now, it’s time to celebrate those who have completed this phase of their academic journeys. I really hope that we will have our graduation ceremonies back as in-person events complete with families to support their pride and joy from next year, but until then, we will continue to celebrate and honour them as best we can this way.” 

One of the notable MBA graduates this year is Andy Innes, the late Johnny Clegg’s band leader and lead guitarist. His academic journey at Henley has been a revelation, after a lifetime as a professional musician. 

“Every course that I have done has opened a view on the industry that I’ve been part of for so long, yet didn’t fully understand. I’ve been doing my case studies on a company in the local record industry, which has forced me to learn more about my extended business environment, so that I can be able to explain its relevance to my examiners. In the process my growth in terms of what I can bring both academically and practically to the industry has been extremely valuable, not just to myself, but also to the company I based my case studies on. 

“My original idea of what I might do with a Henley MBA hasn’t changed much; I want to build a production vertical to create music rather than start a music label. I want to also  build a collective for local composers to get access to profitable genres and markets.” 

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•  Henley Business School Africa is a leading global business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds elite triple international accreditation; has the number 1 business school alumni network in the world for potential to network (Economist 2017); and is the number 1 African-accredited and -campused business school in the world for executive education (FT 2018, 2020), as well as the number 1 MBA business school in South Africa as rated by corporate SA (PMR.Africa 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021).