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The upward trajectory of Project Management at USB and USB-ED

In 1992, Project Management was offered as an elective subject on the MBA programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), with Professor Chris Brown as the first lecturer. In those years at the USB, students could achieve their MBA degrees in fields of specialisation, among others in project management. In order to receive the MBA degree with specialisation in the field of project management, students had to do an extra elective and submit a research report in Project Management.   

Professor Brown delivered the first commercial programme in Project Management on behalf of USB Executive Development (USB-ED) in early 1993. Speaking about the early years of teaching Project Management at USB-ED, Professor Brown mentioned the fact that for the first programme 2 000 flyers were distributed and only 11 students registered. However, such was the quality of teaching and the curriculum that the programme quickly gained popularity in the market and USB-ED became inundated with requests to increase the number of open programmes and to develop in-house specialised offerings.

From these humble beginnings, the five-day programme in Project Management grew to become the most successful programme in the history of USB-ED, with more than 12 000 participants trained since the first programme. Part of the success story was the commitment of Claire Sissing, who joined Professor Brown as programme manager in 2005. MC Botha joined USB-ED in 2006 and co-facilitated the programme until Professor Brown retired in 2008. 


In this photo: Claire Sissing and Professor Chris Brown at the launch of the Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management on 6 September 2012.​

Frequently, after completion of the five-day programme, participants would enquire about the possibility of further training in the field of project management and in 2009, Botha took the first steps in commencing with the process of registering a new qualification in Project Management for University of Stellenbosch. The Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management was eventually approved by the Council for Higher Education on 31 August 2011. On 6 September 2012 the new Postgraduate Diploma was launched, with Professor Brown in attendance as guest of honour. At the autumn graduation ceremony of the University of Stellenbosch in March 2015, 67 students made history in becoming the first graduates of this programme. In March 2016, 78 students graduated out of the 2014 intake. 

Willem Louw joined USB-ED during 2012 and, as former managing director of Sasol Technologies, was instrumental in realigning the focus of project management training at USB-ED to business management of projects. With this approach, USB-ED progressively moved the students to the "front end" of projects where the interface between business management and project management takes place. Louw was also responsible for securing a long-term sponsorship agreement with Transnet and on 8 April 2014 the Transnet Centre for Business Management of Projects was born. Louw and Botha succeeded in establishing Memoranda of Agreement with two of the benchmark Project Management Universities in the world, namely the University College London (specifically the Bartlett School for Construction and Project Management), and Cranfield University School of Management. During September 2014, the first international Programme in Business Management of Projects took place with students visiting these two universities and Independent Project Analysis Inc. in The Hague in The Netherlands. The year 2014 was a very special year for the Centre for Business Management of Projects, as it was nominated and voted as the best Project Management Training Provider in South Africa.

PM Willem louw and Frik.jpg 

Head of Project Management at USB-ED Willem Louw and CEO of USB-ED Frik Landman appear with (in the middle) Oupa Radise and Nonkululeko Sishi from sponsor Transnet on 8 May 2015.

It must be said that Project Management, as a subject, has succeeded in functioning seamlessly between USB and USB-ED. Looking towards the future, both entities are proud to be working in association with Project Management South Africa (PMSA) to develop a protocol for the professional designation of project managers. The Senior Project Management Programme​ (offered over three modular weeks by USB-ED) subscribes to the PMSA designation requirements for registration of graduates as Senior Project Manager, while USB's Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management​ is the only qualification in South Africa that meets the requirements of the top level of professional acknowledgement, namely Professional Project Manager (Pr. PM).

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