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Faculty Focus – Marthinus Havenga

USB-ED is fortunate to have access to more than 300 part-time faculty, consultants, business leaders and industry experts who facilitate on our programmes.

Today we would like to introduce you to Martinus Havenga.

What is the toughest leadership challenge businesses face today?

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic the leaders of small business right through to mega-corporates are faced with the challenge of mere survival. Tough decision have to be made – preservation of life or survival of the business? Emerging from this dark moment, business leaders will be faced with a completely new world order where current business models will be obsolete and where new approaches to employees, profit, operational value chains and customers are needed. Innovative thinking will be needed to re-organise business so that everyone wins – indeed, capitalism needs a “human” face!

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from a student to date?

Perhaps not from a single student, but from most of them. Keep the facilitation “practical”. Engage with the students in plain, easy to understand language and be sparse on high-end academic language. Let students internalise the material and lead them to a place where they can use their newly acquired insights to add value to their respective businesses – “An employee that grows, grows the employer”.

Who inspires you and why?

Former Pres. Barack Obama.  Although inspired by his leadership qualities, it is his wit, humility and the art of communication that maketh the man! From a leadership perspective he is probably the biggest proponent of a “we-not-I” attitude. In his presidential farewell address he thanked his fellow Americans and simply repeated a quote from his inaugural speech: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours."  This belief in one’s ability to bring about change is so desperately needed in the world of today.

What attracted you to work with USB-ED?

As a rated institution globally, I can think of no better place to live my passion for talent and leadership development in South Africa and abroad. USB-Ed provides me with the opportunity to share my experience and insights gained during my corporate career of almost 25 years (inter alia at the IDC and the FirstRand Group) with students and business leaders.

Do you have a mantra or slogan that you live by?

“Doing the right things right”.  Although not always easy, it remains a guiding principle that I try to live by.

What career advice would you give yourself looking back to when you started out?

“Don’t sweat the small things”.  As a perfectionist I found it difficult to ignore the urge to “fix” everything! Although not a bad trait, balance is needed.  Also, follow your passion in life regardless of the views of others.

Tell us about a book you have recently read?

During lockdown I have re-read “The principle of the path” by Andy Stanley. The book focuses on life-changing choices people make and the principle that “I always end up where the road I’ve chosen takes me”. This profound insight resonates with me from an economic perspective. Economics is about choice. In the harsh economic world that we live in today (and post COVID-19), difficult choices have to be made.  However, all of us, including policy-makers, need to remember that we will ultimately reach the end-destination of the path that we have chosen. If we want different economic outcomes, then perhaps we have to make different choices (choose different paths)…!

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