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Executive Development Programme (EDP) Feature: Ruan Venter

When enrolling for the Executive Development Programme (EDP), Ruan Venter shared exclusively with USB-ED that he had been looking to advance his business studies for a while. What drew him strongly to the EDP was that it could be more easily integrated within the scope of his lifestyle. He felt that the commitment period of the EDP was manageable enough for him to give it his all, while, at the same time, balancing his responsibilities to his young family. “I was looking around for something that would provide a top-level experience without a strenuous time commitment. And this is what this programme provided.”

“From what I researched, this executive programme with USB Executive Development was most intriguing to me - from the engagement with senior executive leaders to the modules that were listed. I expected that there would be engagement with senior executive leaders within and across not only South Africa - which was the case, but this also extended throughout Africa too. Gaining insights and having discussions that were engaging to my interests, we learned so much from one another. I was able to get different perspectives that not only added to my own, but also enhanced my understanding of things to a far greater depth.” As a member of the USB-ED EDP class of 2020, Ruan highlighted that while COVID-19 did restrict face-to-face interaction, it did make the virtual interactions far more meaningful. “While it would have been great to meet everyone, with the pandemic this was not possible. The group work was great, as it allowed us to become closer as class-members, even though we couldn’t meet each other in person. We had to engage with each other while working together, and it was a definite highlight for me. It really enhanced the relationships that I was able to build.”

With regards to the syllabus, Ruan shared how he is still seeing the results of what he has put into action since completing his EDP. “The strategy module was a main highlight for me - even from the very first few engagements that we had. Immediately after that, I was fortunate enough that we went into a strategic cycle within our company. So I leveraged the tools I was learning, I challenged some of my team-members and we used what I had learnt to facilitate a strategy that we are currently executing on. I was really pleased to be able to get something tangible to take away and go and implement it straight after.”

From this experience, he says, “It helped me to know that the investment I made in myself was already paying dividends for our company too. The programme also created some longer-term goals within me. Through the discussions, it helped me to improve my own thinking about where I see myself going in the next few years, and beyond that. Beyond the business side of things, that helped me personally.”

Ruan shared exclusively that he feels obligated to pursue a life of purpose and leadership practices that develop sustainable futures. “It is my belief that any form of success without purpose is meaningless. I want to be a responsible leader who makes decisions that have sustainable development as its foundational principle. Making sustainable decisions in these ever-changing times will not come easy, however I plan to accept this obligation and respond to the challenges that it brings, rather than bracing for devastation.” He has found that completing the USB-ED EDP has enhanced his endeavors of fulfilling the responsibilities of leadership, while maintaining an authentic developmental approach with a keen sense for ethics and human advancement. “I realise that this will ask of me to accept the duty of being mindfully aware, critical, vulnerable and often unpopular. It requires voluntarily sacrificing short-term gains for long-term extensions to generate a beneficial and consequential actuality."

As one of the younger members of the group, he highly recommends the programme and actively encourages younger leaders to dive into the experience of an EDP.  He shares that, "...I often think about my education, opportunities and access to resources all of which are seen as “privilege” and feel frustrated that this is privilege…in my mind this is supposed to be the standard for all. I have therefore consciously decided to use my influence, position and opportunities to contribute towards sustainability and upliftment. My opinion is that we should encourage younger people, even those younger than me, to engage in these programmes and discussions. I remember thinking to myself that I would love for the discussions that I was having on the course to have been part of the day-to-day discussions within our company. Since then, I’ve even reached out to some of my own colleagues and told them to go and register and do this programme - it is really insightful! Don’t even think about it, just absolutely go and do it. Be engaged through the sessions, make time for it, entrench yourself in the discussions, be open for the different opinions, and challenge one another through the discussions so that you can all learn even more.”

“My experience was that I threw myself into the programme, and did my best to immerse myself completely in the moment across those few months. I’ve been enriched by engaging in it in that way. And that would absolutely be my message. Engage, immerse yourself in it completely, and you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way. Indeed, it’s going to be the younger generations that are the leaders of the future.”

USB-ED’s  Executive Development Programme (EDP) is an empowering executive leadership programme, designed for executives who are responsible for decision-making across organizations. It focuses on equipping each executive with global perspectives, business and ethical framework knowledge. These are all factors which inform unique business strategies to accomplish objectives and successfully overcome change. The main aim of the programme is to  prepare individuals with the necessary management skills to make difficult business decisions in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) domain.

In the ever-complex business realm, global priorities and challenges often fall on executives’ shoulders. Leaders, therefore, need to adapt their executive roles with new ways of thinking to make room for such changes. This leadership programme equips you with the tools needed to expand your ability to lead, motivate and achieve business objectives, enhance your global perspectives and empower you to formulate strategic goals. Over the course of 7 months, delegates learn new techniques and management skills and will be equipped to:

  • Appreciate a global perspective and understanding of global markets
  • Employ cognitive strategies to appraise systems and consider emergent futures
  • Employ adaptive thinking to support strategic leadership decisions
  • Deploy creative workforce strategies to enhance diversity and organizational performance
  • Collaborate and integrate business knowledge, skills, and professional networks to enhance your career
  • Develop ethical reasoning in determining the role of business in society

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