A Double Celebration as Twins Graduate

A Double Celebration as Twins Graduate
Twins, Trevisha (left) and Trishana Chetty who obtained their Bachelor of Business Science degrees together.

There was cause for a double celebration in the Chetty household when twins, Trevisha and Trishana (22) graduated with Bachelor of Business Science degrees.

Trevisha completed hers cum laude, while Trishana received a Dean’s Commendation and merit certificates - winning them both scholarships to continue their studies.

‘In high school, mathematics and accounting were our strengths. We loved to take on challenges and found both subjects very interesting, so we applied for the Bachelor of Business Science course and chose Mathematics, Statistics and Finance as our majors,’ said Trevisha.

‘We built great friendships along the way and even though it did get a bit challenging and hectic at times, we knew the rewards were going to be great and worthwhile. We would definitely recommend studying Business Science for those going into a competitive job market as the degree opens more career paths and job opportunities, such as choosing the statistics field instead of just finance.’

‘We were honoured to be members of the executive committee of the 2019/20 Golden Key Society at UKZN-Westville.’ Trevisha was Public Relations Director while Trishana was Treasurer.

The two sisters thanked their supportive parents and extended family who inspired and guided them on their academic journeys. ‘They are really proud of us and excited to celebrate our achievement,’ said Trishana.

Currently, Trevisha is working at the Absa Group as part of its graduate programme while Trishana is completing an Honours degree in Statistics at UKZN and will join PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) next year in its Foundation for the Future Graduate Programme.

‘We both look forward to moving to Johannesburg at the end of this year,’ said Trishana. ‘We can definitely say that holding a Bachelor of Business Science degree has played a key role in providing us with the necessary knowledge and skills required in the corporate world,’ added Trevisha.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Three Chetty Sisters Graduate Together

Three Chetty Sisters Graduate Together
The Chetty sisters from left: Twins Odell and Odette and their older sister, Yvette.

Excitement was tripled in the Chetty home when the family celebrated the graduation of 22-year-old twins Odell and Odette, and their older sister Yvette (29).

While the twins have a charming synchronicity in their thoughts, laughter and smiles, they are worlds apart when it comes to career choices. Odell, who found her passion in Health Sciences, graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours); while Odette is all set for the corporate world after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce Accounting (Honours) degree. The twins say they look up to Yvette who graduated with a PhD in Physiology while Yvette in turn says she is thrilled that all three of them graduated during the same week.

Since the passing of their mother, Ms Charmaine Chetty in 2013, Yvette has taken on a motherly role, supporting her sisters through high school and university.

‘I'm sure my mom would be proud of all of us! I’m happy we supported each other, achieved our goals and can now give back to our dad (Mr Krishnan Chetty),’ said Odette who is doing her articles at KPMG and plans to become a chartered accountant, while Odell is enjoying a year of community service at Addington Hospital in Durban.

Odell, who says she always wanted to work in a profession where she could help people, is very proud of her achievement as she found the course challenging, especially last year when the COVID-19 pandemic cemented itself across the globe. ‘Throughout the national lockdown, it was not possible for us to receive placement for fieldwork experience as usual, and so we did telehealth as an alternative. Telehealth is a way of interacting with patients and conducting Occupational Therapy sessions via Zoom.’

Yvette said growing up in Chatsworth where drug abuse and the use of ‘sugars’ (a harmful and addictive drug cocktail) was rife inspired her to pursue her research on their effect on the brain and behaviour of animals. Currently working as a lecturer at the University of Limpopo, Yvette plans to return home soon to celebrate with her twin sisters.

Words: Sejal Desai

Photographs: Rogan Ward and supplied


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College of Law and Management Studies Celebrates Staff Achievements

College of Law and Management Studies Celebrates Staff Achievements
Clockwise from left: Dr Faeezah Peerbhai, Dr Khulekani Khumalo, Dr Eric Ncube, Dr Margot Sennett Freedman, Ms Shelley Donelly, Ms Sehapi Kolitsoe, Dr Jabulani Nyawo and Dr Siphiwe Mqadi.

Eight staff members in the College of Law and Management Studies have made UKZN proud by graduating with master’s and doctoral degrees.

Finance Lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Dr Faeezah Peerbhai graduated with a PhD in Finance for her study titled: The Impact of Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) on the Microstructure of their Constituent Shares: A South African Case.

Peerbhai established that once a share of a small firm is included in an ETF, it increases the visibility of that firm’s listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, resulting in greater liquidity and information efficiency in the share. The study concluded that regulators should actively encourage growth in the South African ETF market by relaxing pension fund regulations and revising the taxation environment to ensure that the ETF market becomes more competitive as an asset class.

Peerbhai says while her studies were not an easy journey, she persevered and succeeded. ‘I fell pregnant with my second child during my studies and had to suspend registration which interrupted my momentum. Having to juggle work, school and two toddlers during a pandemic was probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever had to do.’

With the support of her family, supervisor and colleagues she stayed the course.

Lecturer in the School of Law and Attorney of the High Court, Dr Khulekani Khumalo has always been a passionate and hardworking individual - qualities reflected in his career advances and achievements. In 2012 he obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree cum laude, while in 2015 he completed a Master of Laws (LLM) degree cum laude and was admitted as an attorney of the High Court.

‘After completing my LLM degree in 2015, I published numerous articles on public order offences and I felt that my public order expertise and knowledge would be complete if I pursued a PhD in the related field of state security,’ said Khumalo.

His thesis investigated the “security laws’ interpretation regime”, which is a collection of techniques used to bolster the interpretation of usually broad and vague state security laws in a way that upholds and protects the rule of law and human rights.

Said Khumalo: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic made the study even more relevant because, similar to state security laws, the laws of the State of Disaster - declared in response to the pandemic - are also broad and vague, possibly resulting in violations of the rule of law and human rights. Therefore, the tools of interpretation suggested in the thesis are relevant not only for interpreting state security laws, but also the laws of the State of Disaster.

‘Completing my PhD thesis was very fulfilling, confirming academia is the correct career path for me. I did my PhD in (a period of) almost five years while I was in full-time employment as an academic, but at no point did I ever feel like giving up. The key has simply been to do what I love most,’ he said.

Supply Chain Lecturer at the School of Management, IT and Governance (SMIG), Dr Eric Ncube says his PhD achievement is a significant milestone that he had not thought possible. ‘I am the first in the family to get a doctorate, setting a good example for my grandchildren. I wish my parents were still alive to witness this achievement,’ said Ncube.

His doctoral research focused on changes in tastes and preferences of library patrons to supply chain systems and processes. Libraries of the 21st Century have to be customer-centred in processes such as planning, sourcing, and delivering which all involve the use of technology.

‘I have started publishing from my research for this project under the guidance of my supervisors, Dr Thokozani Mbhele and Professor Maxwell Phiri, who have been instrumental in my doctoral journey,’ he added.

Student Counsellor and Counselling Psychologist at CLMS Student Support Services, Dr Margot Sennett Freedmanwho graduated with doctorate in Philosophy for her study titled: I Owe my Recovery to the Group: How Addicts Learn to Recover: A Case Study of an Addiction Aftercare Group.

The study boldly tackles the topic of addiction recovery through an analysis of group dynamics and mechanisms that facilitate regular members to maintain their recoveries. Her ground-breaking study examined aspects of group membership, highlighting the importance of a safe space where engagement with guilt, shame, anger and the physical aspects of addiction were essential. Her thesis developed an interactional model of global reach, significant for future practices of recovery from addiction.

Dr Sennett Freedman is married to the School of Law’s Professor Warren Freedman. They have two daughters, Jessica and Emily.

Auditing Lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Dr Siphiwe Mqadi who graduated with a doctorate in Accounting says the qualification provides him with a unique opportunity to apply creativity to the Accounting profession through research and teaching.

He said his research, which investigated corporate governance practices of audit committees in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) local government municipalities, was motivated by rampant municipal maladministration, regression in municipal audit outcomes and poor service delivery - 27 years into a fully non-racial and democratic South Africa!

‘As scholars, we always strive to seek new or enhanced techniques for solving problems,’ said Mqadi. ‘My research looked into what audit committees are doing and can improve on and/or do differently to support municipal governance in reaching its intended goals,’ said Mqadi.

He dedicated his achievement to his late parents who died during his studies. ‘Losing both my parents during my PhD journey was really tough. Grieving but still having to find the strength to complete my research required major sacrifices and mental adjustment.’

Mqadi thanked his supervisors, Professor Msizi Mkhize and Dr Bomi Nomlala for their support and feedback throughout the research project. He also thanked Professor Anesh Singh and Professor Mabutho Sibanda for their much-needed encouragement and guidance.

Lecturer in Public Governance at the School of Management, IT and Governance, Dr Jabulani Nyawo, has graduated with a PhD in Public Administration.

Born in the small town of Jozini in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Nyawo says he pushed himself to achieve what he did not think was possible and is now the first in his family to hold a doctoral degree.

Nyawo’s research was aimed at establishing efficient ways for agri-smallholders to stimulate local growth as well as business growth and development. His findings suggest that neither municipalities nor provincial extension services provide sufficient assistance for agri-smallholder producers to access municipal markets, mainly because municipal development plans are not integrated with those of the province.

‘Doing my doctorate was stressful as I had to find a good balance between my studies, a full-time job and family responsibilities,’ said Nyawo.

He thanked his family and friends for always being there for him and also his supervisor, Professor Betty Mubangizi for her support and guidance.

For Student Academic Administrator in the School of Management, IT and Governance Ms Sehapi Kolitsoe, being promoted to higher positions, and improving her skills in research were her motivation for pursuing a Master of Commerce (Information Systems and Technology) degree.

Kolitsoe says she wanted to gain experience and specialised knowledge through academic research and the degree provided exactly that.

Her study investigated the impact of social media on educational institutions, finding that it (social media) is very useful and could assist in teaching and learning.

After placing credentialing on the back-burner for far too long, Finance Lecturer Ms Shelley Donnelly decided that 2020 was the year to complete her Master’s in Finance, which she did, graduating cum laude during today’s LMS virtual graduations ceremony.

Donnelly’s study investigated factors that determined creditworthiness among a group of KZN Midlands commercial farmers and found four significant predictors of credit risk: the category of the farmer - part-time farmers were found to have lower credit risk than their full-time counterparts; the proximity to the nearest urban centre - the further away the farm operation from the nearest urban centre, the lower the credit risk; reliance on non-farm income - the more reliant on farm income to maintain a standard of living, the lower the credit risk; and the funding institution used by the farming operation - participants not funded by a commercial bank tended to be more creditworthy than those funded by a commercial bank.

Donnelly took a six-month sabbatical last year (2020) to get the research done, however during that time, her mother died from cancer, making the journey far more difficult.

She thanked her supervisor, Professor Paul-Francois Muzindutsi who was ‘unbelievably patient and generous with his time and experience, and supportive throughout the process.’

College Dean of Research, Professor Colette Muller congratulated the staff members, saying: ‘It has been a great privilege for colleagues in the College to support all students completing their postgraduate studies. We are extremely proud of all of our graduates, and particularly our colleagues who have succeeded to finish their degrees under the very trying circumstances which characterised the 2020 academic year.’

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photographs: Supplied


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Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son
BCom (Law) graduate, Mr Dumoluhle Sibanda (left) and his father, Professor Mabutho Sibanda of UKZN.

Mr Dumoluhle Sibanda, son of the Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Professor Mabutho Sibanda, graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Law.

‘With my father being so passionate about commerce, I was exposed to the Discipline from a very young age,’ said Dumoluhle, who feels his newly-acquired qualification gives him an understanding of the basics of South African Law and global supply chain systems, which will be an advantage in his quest to become a global maritime specialist.

‘It was a rollercoaster of a journey - from adjusting to living alone, to making new friends in a new city after moving from Durban to study in Pietermaritzburg, as well as adapting to the new norm presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The course was challenging but the amount of support I received from my family and friends made it bearable,’ said Dumoluhle.

Professor Sibanda expressed how proud he and his family are of Dumoluhle’s achievement, saying: ‘We will be very happy to see him get his doctorate in the near future. Being the oldest, he has set a good example for his siblings and certainly, the sky is the limit for him!’

Dumoluhle says his parents were his mentors and his greatest advisors through his academic journey. Seeing how proud they were (of him) kept him going over the years and encouraged him to be the best he could be.

Currently an intern (in maritime) and pursuing a postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies, Dumokuhle hopes to break into the international maritime field and move overseas as a maritime specialist.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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MBA for Woman Working in Male-Dominated Sector

MBA for Woman Working in Male-Dominated Sector
MBA graduate, Ms Ncebakazi Latsha.

Cane Testing Manager at South African Sugar Association, Ms Ncebakazi Latsha graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree relevant to her employment in what has been a traditionally male-dominated sector.

Latsha’s research was titled: The Impact of the Sugar-Sweetener Beverage Tax on the Sugar Industry of South Africa.

Her decision to research the issue was motivated by the government’s introduction of a sugar tax/health promotion levy imposed on South Africa’s beverage industry in a bid to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, thus improving the health of the country’s population.

With the beverage sector being the largest consumer of sugar in South Africa, Latsha sought to investigate the impact of this tax on the industry - her research investigation showing that it (the impact of the tax) had been larger than generally anticipated.

The study recommended that the sugar industry embark on product diversification, prioritising a significant hike in its production of biofuels and electricity to generate additional revenue, which would in turn create jobs in rural communities which is where the sugar industry operates.

Latsha spent 11 years of her working career in the pharmaceutical industry before taking up a position in the sugar sector three years ago, subsequently developing an interest in business management and entrepreneurship which led to her decision to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and later, an MBA.

‘Having an MBA qualification has equipped me with knowledge to make strategic and operational decisions which drive the future growth of the business,’ she said. ‘I wanted to better understand how the business world operates in order to bring a new perspective; thus, this qualification is another way of boosting my career while enhancing my business management skills to manage the business effectively while contributing to the economy.’

She thanked God; her supervisors, Professor Cecile Gerwel-Proches and Dr Nikita Singh for their support and guidance; and her family, especially her husband for his love, understanding and patience.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Cohort Initiative Produces Excellent Results

Cohort Initiative Produces Excellent Results
PhD candidates and graduates at a cohort PhD thesis writing seminar in Pietermaritzburg.

Four UKZN students who received support in their research and studies through a cohort initiative facilitated by Professor Maxwell Phiri of the School of Management, IT and Governance, have graduated with doctoral degrees.

The cohort supervision initiative began in 2015 and since then, 10 PhD candidates have graduated with the assistance of the approach.

The most recent PhD graduates are Dr Eric Ncube, Dr Maceline Nyatsambo, Dr Caston Munjoma and Dr Tongesai Mpofuwhowere members of a research community which met twice a month for dissertation writing and research supervision.

Phiri and Dr Patmond Mbhele were the supervisors.

Ncube’s study focused on changes in tastes and preferences of library patrons with regard to supply chain systems and processes. His work showed that libraries of the 21st Century had to be customer-centred in planning, sourcing and delivering which all involved the use of technology.

‘I have started publishing from my research under the guidance of my supervisors, Professor Phiri and Dr Mbhele who have been instrumental in my successful doctoral journey,’ he said.

Nyatsambo’s thesis investigated the capability of Zimbabwean hospitality marketing employees to use mobile marketing practices to advance domestic tourism. The thesis highlighted the need to promote new technologies to advance tourism in a developing economy. Results confirmed that the Zimbabwean tourism industry and its employees have embraced emerging technologies.

‘Under the good guidance of my supervisor Phiri, I managed to publish a research article in a Scopus 2018 listed journal. I presented papers at two international conferences, first in Mauritius then in Porto Portugal. In Porto, I won the best PhD paper presentation at the 2nd International Conference on Tourism Research held in Porto in 2019,’ she said.

Munjoma investigated integrated logistics planning in the Zimbabwean Defence Force, focusing on Harare, with his results revealing the lack of an integrated logistics planning approach within the Force which caused shortages of logistics resources, thereby compromising efficiency and effectiveness.

Munjoma found that the success of a 21st-century military force required knowledge about the revolution in military logistics which strives for total asset visibility, real-time response and focused logistics achieved through integrated logistics planning.

Mpofu’s study examined the possibility of adopting social media as a marketing communication tool for students at the Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe, using a sample of 400 respondents. The findings revealed that social media can positively and successfully be used as a marketing communication tool for new students.

Commenting on the success of the PhD cohort, Phiri said: ‘The degree opens up new avenues for growth in one's life. Supervising PhD students requires interest, passion and commitment from both the supervisor and the student. The cohort experience has taught us that nothing is impossible when one commits to a project.’

He said he was proud of the graduates and looked forward to the cohort generating more graduates and more publications.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Fourteen School of Management, IT and Governance Honours Candidates Graduate with Distinction

Fourteen School of Management, IT and Governance Honours Candidates Graduate with Distinction
Top row from left: Ms Solani Jagath, Ms Kiara Reddy and Ms Madhuri Kasiram. Middle row from left: Ms Cailtlin Appulsamy, Ms Sumeera Partab, Ms Theressa Athiah and Mr Khayelihle Ngcobo. Bottom row from left: Ms Thejal Hanrajh, Ms Halima Ale and Mr Jonathan Naicker.

The School of Management, IT and Governance is celebrating the impressive achievements of three of their honours students who graduated summa cum laude, and a further 11 who graduated cum laude.

The distinguished graduates are Ms Thejal Hansrajh, Ms Madhuri Kasiram, and Ms Talia Marimuthu who graduated summa cum laude; and Ms Halima Ale, Ms Caitlin Appulsamy, Ms Theressa Athia, Ms Sonali Jagath, Mr Shaur Mahabeer, Ms Magdalene Muthusamy, Mr Jonathan Naicker, Mr Khayelihle Ngcobo, Ms Sumeera Partab, Ms Kiara Reddy and Ms Linden Singh who graduated cum laude.

Hansrajh says she was inspired to do her BCom ISTN Honours degree to improve her knowledge in the field of Information Systems and Technology as well as research to help her gain confidence to enter the world of work. She also wanted to challenge herself, knowing it would not be easy - especially during the COVID-19 pandemic - and it proved to be extremely rewarding.

‘Pursuing this qualification, I realised the true meaning of the saying “you reap what you sow”,’ said Hansraj. ‘I made a promise to dedicate myself and try my best with everything I did because I wanted to make both my family and myself proud. That decision not only allowed me to achieve great results, but also boosted my confidence and has made me realise anything is possible if you put in the effort,’ she said.

Kasiram pursued a BCom Honours in Information Systems and Technology degree as she has always been interested in learning more, and had found great pleasure studying IT at university level. ‘I knew nothing about coding or computer science when I began my undergrad degree. I just knew that I wanted to create the applications and programs I often saw on my laptop and smartphone,’ said Kasiram.

‘I am currently part of the graduate programme at FNB in the iDigi-tech unit. My future plans are to become a software developer/engineer and also open my own IT consulting business one day.’

Ale says she was motivated to do a B Com (Hon) degree in Industrial Relations because she wanted to learn more about the labour law and policy side of human resources.

‘Doing my honours was a bit different because of the new norm that was introduced to us by COVID-19. Adjusting to that, and having to do research and consult online/via email with supervisors was strenuous but, in the end, it was worth it because I completed my degree cum laude,’ she said.

Appulsamy did an Honours degree in HR Management to increase her chances of getting a job and it did - she is currently an intern in the Discipline at UKZN, grateful to get work during the time of a pandemic when so many were out of work.

Athia says the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her qualification will not only positively contribute to future organisational strategies, but has made her an effective and highly competent leader in the field.

‘My experience with UKZN has been exceptional - having been part of an institution that supports, empowers, and inspires students to aspire to achieve greatness will benefit me into all stages of my life,’ she said.

Athia is currently pursuing a master’s degree after being awarded a bursary to continue with her studies, and is hoping to become a lecturer.

Jagath, whose love for computers led her to choose IT as a career, says when she was little, she would sit with her father and learn how to use a computer. The thrill of learning to do so many “cool” things on a computer intrigued her.

‘I aim to work myself up the corporate ladder in the information technology sector and learn as many skills and as much knowledge as I can so I can make a difference in whatever way I can,’ she said.

Naicker’s decision to pursue a degree in Industrial Relations was primarily due to the fact that Neuropsychology was not a study option in South Africa when he matriculated. However, after much research and deliberation, the thought of undertaking a qualification that enables an individual to assist in the provision of social justice, fairness and labour peace was something that appealed to him.

In his third-year, he co-authored a publication with lecturer and mentor, Dr Andile Biyela and also had the privilege of working alongside senior academics, Professor Shaun Ruggunan and Dr Ashika Maharaj in a global research project initiated by the Curtin University in Australia that investigated the involvement of HR professionals in changed working practices and the management of such change in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

‘My late mother always gave me the freedom - academic and otherwise - to find my own path, never once pressurising me to pursue a particular field. Therefore, all my current and future accolades are a dedication to her,’ said Naicker.

Ngcobo says he enjoyed technology from a young age, always wanting to understand how things like computers, cell phones, mobile applications, and the internet work. He did research and found information technology to be a suitable field where he could acquire such knowledge.

His honours journey was an amazing one despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic which meant having to adapt to online learning which was hard as he did not have a conducive environment to study in at home, but his resilience kept him going.

‘Learning from home affected me heavily, so much so that even my marks dropped. Nevertheless, I never stopped pushing myself, I kept on praying for it and working hard at it, I am very proud to graduate cum laude with my Honours degree in IST even though the odds were stacked against me,’ said Ngcobo.

Partab says she was initially hesitant about pursuing a Bachelor of Public Administration and Human Resource Management degree as it seemed intimidating. However, as she began her undergraduate studies, she coped with the new terms, processes, practices, and theories that helped her to understand the importance and value of public administration and HR management in the world of work and for the development of the country.

‘I will put the theoretical knowledge I obtained during my studies to practical use to work my way up the ladder and reach decision-making positions where I shall advocate for changes to help develop and grow the community and country,’ she said.

Reddy says she always hoped to go into the business world. ‘As a creative person, I tend to draw inspiration from people and my surroundings. Marketing seemed like a natural choice as it allowed me to combine my passion for business with my understanding of people to better understand the consumer through the perspective of an organisation.’

‘My experience studying towards my Honours in Marketing has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. I found it challenging for the most part, but genuinely enjoyed learning what I did during this qualification,’ she said.

Reddy is currently working as a Junior Brand Manager in the FMCG sector and hopes to grow into the role of Brand Manager within the company.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photographs: Supplied


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Passion for People and Culture Earns Graduate Master’s Degree Cum Laude

Passion for People and Culture Earns Graduate Master’s Degree <em>Cum Laude</em>
Master of Commerce graduate, Ms Charlotte Mokoena.

Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Stakeholder Relations at Sasol, Ms Charlotte Mokoena (56), graduated with a Master of Commerce (Leadership Studies) degree, attaining her degree cum laude.

Mokoena also holds a Bachelors of Social Sciences degree, an Honours in Human Resources Development, a postgraduate diploma from Leicester University in the United Kingdom, as well as several Business Executive programmes - completing all her university qualifications as a working mother and wife. She is also a qualified nurse, which was her first formal qualification.

Her master’s study titled: Managing Organisational Culture Change in a South African Multi-National Company, sought to (1) understand the factors that influence organisational culture change; (2) identify effective approaches to communicating change; (3) investigate the existence of subcultures; and (4) understand how to align company culture across an organisation.

The findings of the study indicate that organisational factors that impact culture change efforts include: leadership behaviours and the leadership’s ability to manage culture change efforts; alignment of the business case for change; dealing with employee resistance to change; the use of effective communication approaches; and the fact that sub-cultures and gender differences in experiencing culture exist in the workforce with not a single aligned organisational culture.

‘I am passionate about people and culture as elements (which are) critical in creating and delivering value in organisations. The master’s programme allowed me to choose a study area and topic directly related to my role, responsibilities and work as well as my organisation’s priorities,’ said Mokoena.

‘The study makes an immediate contribution to the deliverables and priorities of the teams I lead and work with, and enriched my perspectives on culture change. It also provides a knowledge base from which I can explore further business studies while reaching out to contribute my knowledge and skills beyond my current work role and even beyond my organisation.’

Mokoena says studying for this degree allowed her to further deepen her capabilities on how to intervene in organisations on culture change, as well as how to enable the development of business solutions about people and culture.

‘Organisational culture is a core element in creating a compelling value proposition for company’s employees beyond aspects such as remuneration and career development. This requires leaders to analyse the culture of an organisation from an employee experience lens as well as the company’s.’

The study also revealed that there are gender disparities in how organisational culture is experienced, which is of keen interest for her.

Congratulating Mokoena on this achievement, her supervisor, Professor Cecile Gerwel Proches said Mokoena’s commitment to the area of research and her strong work ethic made it a pleasure to work with her.

Mokoena says her family is excited and very proud of her achievement. ‘They share in it!’

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Goals Delayed Were Not Goals Denied for LLB Graduate!

Goals Delayed Were Not Goals Denied for LLB Graduate!
Dr Elias Cebekhulu, senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and newly capped LLB graduate.

Dr Elias Cebekhulu (50) left his home to pursue a Law degree only to discover his results were not sufficient for him to enroll at university.

‘The rejection led to me taking a different academic direction and I had to live with that reality for many years,’ said Cebekhulu.

He eventually got into university and completed a PhD in Social Policy in 2002. ‘As an academic, I started writing and completed peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and a book. Having written more than 25 articles and book chapters as well as supervising over 22 master’s and PhD candidates, I still felt that there was a knowledge vacuum that existed within my intellectual space,’ he said.

Law beckoned again, so in 2017, Cebekhulu enrolled for a Bachelor of Laws degree as a full-time student despite being employed, meaning he had to juggle his work and study loads.

‘I remember one day while reading Confucius’ intellectual contribution, I came across his assertion that if you aspire to remove yourself from the chains of ignorance, you must find time to read or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. I was then inspired by his wisdom to venture into the area of Law in search of new knowledge that is only found in the science of Law.’

‘There were many of us who started the LLB academic journey, but lots did not succeed along the way because of the intensity of the work load and rigorous assessment. It was in third-year that I became convinced that I had enough stamina to finish this academic journey,’ said Cebekhulu.

He thanked his study group, dedicated Law lecturers, and the School of Social Sciences. ‘To my family, forgive me for sacrificing you in the quest for an LLB,’ he said.

Cebekhulu - a senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences (Industrial Organisation and Labour Studies) - says he now looks forward to achieving degrees in Law, writing papers, and practising Law.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Graduate Dedicates Doctoral Degree to her Late Father

Graduate Dedicates Doctoral Degree to her Late Father
PhD graduate, Dr Damilola Oyetade.

Dr Damilola Oyetade dedicated her PhD in Finance to her late father, saying that while the journey had been difficult she persevered to fulfil his wish.

‘I wanted to quit twice but the thought of letting him down - and also disappointing my mother - who both sacrificed so much for me, urged me on. And here I am today, the first PhD graduate in the family,’ said Oyetade.

Her thesis, titled: The Potential Impact of Basel IV Requirements on Performance and Resilience of Commercial Banks in Africa, aimed to establish policy direction for African monetary authorities on the proposed Basel IV regulation.

‘It took me over six months to dissect and understand the Basel regulations and identify my research issue. The availability of data for African banks was also a challenge,’ said Oyetade.

‘It is noteworthy that the African banking system remains under-developed and not fully integrated into the global financial system,’ said Oyetade. ‘They have not fully embraced the changes in Basel regulatory requirements thought to be beneficial in increasing bank resilience, lending and capital adequacy. At the same time, compliance with Basel requirements tends to be expensive for banks and can impact on their performance and ability to lend. My PhD thesis investigated these issues.’

Her findings indicate that compliance with Basel IV capital requirements will have short and long-term implications for bank performance and lending in Africa as it will improve capital adequacy and the resilience of banks in Africa.

In addition, the outcome of this study could be used to correct misconceptions about the relevance of the Basel regulation in the African setting, given that many African banks are constrained by capital inadequacy and weak regulatory requirements, which make them inefficient even in the presence of revenue growth opportunities from a growing market, unbanked population and high-interest rates.

Oyetade thanked her supervisors, Professor Paul-Francois Muzindutsi and Dr Adefemi Obalade, and also her mother and brother for their financial support throughout the programme.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Predicting Companies in Financial Distress Explored in Research

Predicting Companies in Financial Distress Explored in Research
Master of Finance cum laude graduate, Ms Fikile Dube.

A Master’s degree in Finance is what Ms Fikile Dube achieved cum laude for her thesis titled: Industry-Specific Financial Distress Prediction for Companies in the Financial Services and Manufacturing Sectors of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Dube set out to develop two models capable of predicting the probability of companies in financial distress, using artificial neural networks (ANNs) which make up an artificial intelligence (AI) model based on machine learning.

‘The findings of this study showed that the ANNs were able to predict financial distress - with an accuracy of over 80% for both sectors - using industry-specific performance indicators,’ said Dube. ‘These results speak to the applicability of AI models in the South African context and have inspired me to continue to further explore the application of machine learning models in finance for my PhD with the aim of discovering new and innovative ways to solve financial problems.’

Dube says when she enrolled at UKZN in 2015, obtaining a master’s degree had not been a priority in her future plans. Her goal was to get a B Com, possibly pursue honours, and then leave! ‘However, the incredibly inspiring and passionate staff in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance convinced me to stay on. One is constantly motivated by them to achieve more,’ she said.

There were challenges during her master’s journey, but with assistance from her supervisors and her determination to achieve, she overcame all obstacles.

‘Coming from a finance background I knew this was not going to be easy, however, after a few python coding and machine learning courses, countless failed attempts and immense motivation and assistance from my supervisors Professor Paul Francois Muzindutsi and Dr Ntokozo Nzimande, I developed two fully functional ANNs for predicting financial distress for the financial services and manufacturing industries,’ she said.

Describing his interaction with Dube, Muzindutsi said: ‘I first met Fikile as a third-year Finance student who intended to seek work after completing her honours degree. During her honours year, she tutored in undergraduate Finance modules, developing an interest for academia and decided to enrol for a master’s degree. She is an intelligent, hardworking student who challenges herself and has the potential to become a good researcher. Congratulations to her for delivering a high-quality master’s thesis. She is now working on a research proposal for her PhD and I will be happy to supervise and mentor her all the way on her new journey.’

Dube thanked her family for their support and is excited her achievement has inspired her father to also pursue a master’s degree.

Currently working on getting her master’s published, Dube is reading for a PhD and hopes to continue in academia.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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The Role of Fraud Awareness under the Microscope

The Role of Fraud Awareness under the Microscope
Master of Business Administration cum laude graduate, Ms Priya Singh.

The role of fraud awareness in promoting an anti-fraud culture was part of the focus of research done by Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree cum laude graduate, Ms Priya Singh who is employed as a forensic audit specialist at UKZN.

‘My MBA adds to my overall competencies and enhances my business acumen skills - it has been an exciting journey of learning, resilience and reward. Graduating cum laude is a highly-appreciated plaudit,’ said Singh.

Her research focused on fraud awareness as a preventative measure towards occupational fraud risks within a department at the University (UKZN). It further examined how fraud awareness could contribute to an anti-fraud culture which presented a different perspective as it extended beyond traditional measures of fraud prevention, offering insight based on research into a more holistic approach.

The research also highlighted practical measures to prevent fraud risks and improve anti-fraud culture. ‘Being a forensics professional at UKZN, the research provides insights to support and add value to the University,’ said Singh.

Having to do research during the COVID-19 pandemic posed unforeseen challenges, but she overcame them with hard work and guidance from her research supervisor.

‘Vital to achieving a balanced and rewarding academic experience are setting goals, allocating time frames and staying committed to the goal,’ said Singh.

She thanked her family for their support, saying her success was also theirs.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Study on Impact of Industry 4.0 on Employment Earns Graduate Cum Laude Master’s Degree

Study on Impact of Industry 4.0 on Employment Earns Graduate <em>Cum Laude</em> Master’s Degree
Master of Commerce cum laude graduate, Ms Yamkela Nhleko.

After sending out many job applications - which all proved unsuccessful - Ms Yamkela Nhleko took a decision to continue with her studies rather than stay at home.

She continued working towards her master’s degree and along the way, used skills acquired during her research to assist in a project she co-founded with a friend, Ms Nondumiso Mjweni. The project, titled: Intsika Yomhlaba, aims to assist learners, especially living in underdeveloped communities, to apply for admission to Higher Education Institutions and to take advantage of bursary opportunities.

Nhleko has now obtained her Master of Commerce in Management degree cum laude for her study titled: The Impact of Industry 4.0 on Entrepreneurship Education and Higher Education: Perspectives of Undergraduate Commerce Students. In her work, she sought to investigate the impact the 4th Industrial Revolution could have on Entrepreneurship Education in Higher Education Institutions (HEI)s, and how undergraduate students perceive actions taken by HEIs to produce graduates equipped for the new world of work which is characterised by constant innovation and complexity.

Industry 4.0 is thought to offer opportunities to address some of the many global challenges to job creation which is particularly important and relevant for a country like South Africa where there is an imbalance between skills demand and supply, a high unemployment rate, and increasing pressure to train and employ the youth.

Through her work, Nhleko became a member of UKZN’s SHAPE (Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship) - an action research project at UKZN founded by Dr Thea van der Westhuizen, who was Nhleko’s supervisor.

‘My work is adding to the body of knowledge by fellow researchers within this project and hopefully, will contribute towards our local socio-economic development,’ she said.

Nhleko is the youngest in her family and the first to graduate. She hopes this encourages others in her family and community of Gcilima at Margate on the KZN South Coast to further their studies.

She thanked her mother who has been her source of strength throughout.

Nhleko is currently an intern at the eThekwini Maritime Cluster.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Head of UKZN HR Division Achieves Master’s Degree

Head of UKZN HR Division Achieves Master’s Degree
UKZN HR Executive Director, Dr Siphelele Zulu.

The Executive Director of Human Resources at UKZN, Dr Siphelele Zulu, graduated with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree. His research examined whether the balance of probabilities was a fair and reasonable standard in deciding possible dismissal in misconduct cases or whether the legal framework regulating disciplinary hearings needed an overhaul.

'The study investigated the question if the use of the balance of probabilities as the onus of proof to determine the guilt or otherwise of employees caused a threat to the attainment of justice,' explained Zulu.

Based on its findings, the study suggested that the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995, Schedule 8, (Code of Good Practice: Dismissal) be reviewed and amended to ensure that the regulatory framework governing disciplinary cases on misconduct cases was changed.

Zulu has always been keenly interested in education and the pursuit of knowledge. ‘Studying Law presented itself as a challenge as I had not been exposed to the particular type of research in that field. It is that challenge that excited and encouraged me to push forward,’ he said.

‘I hope that this qualification will assist in the legal aspects of my scope of work, placing me in a position to be prepared for any opportunities that require a legal qualification,’ added Zulu.

He sacrificed family time to concentrate on his studies but was extremely proud that that he did not squander the down-time presented by the COVID-19 national lockdown regulations, rather using it to his advantage and creating an atmosphere of learning in his home.

He thanked his late mother who instilled in him a love of self-growth and research. ‘Continuing with my studies is keeping her legacy alive and I trust it also inspires my children who I hope see that the pursuit of education has no expiry date.’

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Research Fellow Receives Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University

UKZN Research Fellow Receives Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University
Ms Mary de Haas was showered with flowers upon receiving her Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa award from Rhodes University.

Veteran political and human rights activist, Ms Mary de Haas has been awarded a Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa degree from Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

De Haas was a senior lecturer and Programme Director for Social Anthropology at UKZN for 20 years before retiring in 2002. She remains an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Law and a member of the Navi Pillay Research Group which focuses on justice and human rights.

She said the news of the accolade came as a surprise. ‘I was completely taken a back and it took a while for the news to sink in. When it did, I was deeply honored and humbled.

‘For me, this is recognition of the importance of social justice work, generally - being retired for the past 18 years, I am not looking for career advancement of any sort. I have carried on with the human rights work because I believe it is the right thing to do, but what I enjoy most is my research and writing,’ she said.

De Haas was active and involved in community work in the 1980s while lecturing Social Anthropology at the then University of Natal (now UKZN). She began collating information on violence, distributing it widely in an attempt to educate people, especially White, about what was happening in some communities in KwaZulu-Natal. Since then, she has been involved in research into - and the documentation of - political violence in the KZN province.

‘Although my research interests were in anthropology, when I went into the townships in the 1980s, people would inform me about serious incidents of violence and ask for my help when under attack by warlords. I committed myself to helping and actively started lobbying the political opposition, business, the media and others in an attempt to get them to pay attention to what was happening… and to do something about it,’ said de Haas.

From 1995, she served on the UKZN Medical School Research Ethics committees, chairing one of them. In 2008, she resigned and together with several colleagues formed the Medical Rights Advocacy Network (MeRAN), a voluntary but independent bioethics grouping which the UKZN Law School’s Professor David McQuoid-Mason was also a founding member.

De Haas said she was grateful to have been part of UKZN and witness how the University aligned itself with progressive forces in South Africa, especially in the 1980s. The University of Natal actively promoted community outreach and ‘socially responsible research’.

‘I am also extremely grateful for the true academic freedom experienced during 80s and 90s where one could be outspoken and unpopular with politicians, but the University always stood by you.’

Addressing the Class of 2021 at Rhodes she said: ‘Congratulations on your achievements, but don’t rest on your laurels, keep on learning throughout your life and try to excel in your field. Be grateful for what you have - even basics like a roof over your head, enough food, clean water and a good education in a country where so many of our people lack those basics.’

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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