When Henley Business School UK introduced its MBA to the South African market in 1992, there was no knowing whether it would stay the course. In the ensuing years many other international schools attempted to make inroads into a highly competitive market that was already well served by established local business schools.
Originally based in offices at Eskom?s Midrand premises, Henley?s MBA programme operated under license to the Graduate Institute of Management Technology. When GIMT was sold, Henley bought back the license, became a branch office and, in 2002, launched itself as a fully integrated school of Henley in South Africa.
In 2008 the University of Reading bought out Henley UK. With operations in Malaysia, Middle East, China and a 50-year history in Africa, the advantages for Henley South Africa soon became clear.
Dean and director of Henley SA, Jon Foster-Pedley insists that, despite its international association, the school?s South African identity be maintained. "We?re locally accredited, locally based, with local staff, alumni, students and clients.
"Our chief aim is to deliver world class education that is relevant to the country?s needs, while integrating it with global experience.We are committed to producing skilled and competent business leaders that can make a meaningful contribution to the economy.
"Our purpose is to equip managers to work more successfully and with confidence, to create prosperity for Africa through improved strategic thinking, business acumen and leadership. We will be bringing in top international expertise, while growing local methods and systems, and recruiting and developing local talent.'
In 2007, Henley established its social entrepreneurship arm, followed by the introduction in 2011 of Henley MBAid, a programme that provides free business support to SMEs and NGOs. Participants include Henley staff, students, and executives from corporate South Africa.
Included in plans for this year and going forward are to build its international network and explore programmes between China and Africa. "We want to work more closely with our European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern partners to bring best international practices to South Africa,' he says. "We are developing international study trips and programmes, and have begun to extend into North America through our collaboration with Rotman for the development of our DBA programme.'
Foster-Pedley believes in delivering education that is elite without being elitist."We need to create a passion for education in this country and broaden access to world-class learning,' he says. "We need to acknowledge that, given half a chance, some people who normally would have been excluded from learning like this, can achieve amazing things.
"If we are to achieve our goal of enabling South Africans to contribute to the economy, we need to have more people doing their jobs better. And the best way to do this is through education.'
Its humble beginnings notwithstanding, Henley South Africa has made its mark as the only international executive education institution in the country to carry the Council on Higher Education?s stamp of approval for its MBA, in addition to being accredited by international bodies, AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB.
To date, the school has produced 934 MBA graduates, many of whom are captains of industry. In addition to the MBA, it delivers customised executive education programmes to blue-chip companies.
Henley?s 20 year celebrations coincide with the official opening of its new premises at Kirstenhof Campus in Paulshof.