A bigger and better Leaderex opens its doors to the public on August 24 2016 – a day for executives, professionals and entrepreneurs to network, challenge conventional thinking, and learn from the country’s top CEOs and thought leaders, writes Cara Bouwer.
Building on a successful debut in 2015, this year the organisers, Leader.co.za, in association with the JSE and leading think tanks, have stitched together 50 events that focus on key priority areas for South Africa, including entrepreneurship, innovation, economic growth, investing and, of course, leadership.
Over 100 respected thought leaders and entrepreneurs will share practical insights and advice on the day, representing one of the largest collaborations of its kind in the country – and the top networking platform for professionals.
The current uncertainty pervading South African society, politics and economics will be tackled headon, with experts debating what is required to get the country moving in the right direction. South Africa’s lack of a savings culture will be a key talking point, and investment vehicles, from tax-free savings to ETFs, will be thoroughly unpacked.
Last year the free, one-on-one coaching sessions were a huge hit with delegates, offering individuals a unique opportunity to enjoy personal career guidance from leading coaches and consultants, on subjects ranging from leadership and strategy to innovation and entrepreneurship. Leaderex 2016 has built on this hunger for knowledge transfer and is again offering this hugely successful initiative.
For the entrepreneur, funding, mentorship and enterprise development are core themes, tying in with topics such as self-leadership, the role of civil society, socially oriented businesses and an overarching drive to get South Africans to take collective ownership of their future.
Dave Duarte, founder of Treeshake and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, participated in the 2015 event and is back again in 2016. He was quick to give Leaderex the thumbs-up, saying: “It was a phenomenal opportunity to meet so many people at one time who were interested in organisational and personal development. It also stretched the idea of personal and organisational development. It was wonderful and there were people there at all levels, from graduates to top leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Duarte singled out the vibrancy of the event and the networking opportunity, something that Piet Naudé, director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, also noted: “Leaderex 2015 was a really good networking experience, with exposure to people interested in studying with us or doing executive education.”
Naudé said that, for business schools, the value of an event such as Leaderex lay in its provision of “onestop exposure to all the good business schools in South Africa”. This educational theme runs throughout the Leaderex platform, hardly surprising when you consider the strength and vibrancy of South Africa’s worldclass business education sector, and the focus on skills across all sectors. Quality learning the SA way
According to Dr Millard Arnold, head of the South African Business School Association, the state of business education in South Africa looks rosy. “The Financial Times [in the UK] puts out an annual survey of business schools each year, and one of the categories is executive education, broken into customised education and general education. Last year in executive education they ranked the top 85 business schools around the world; of those, South Africa had four [out of 18 business schools]. That is huge. Only the United States, Britain and France had more than South Africa,” says Arnold.
“That says volumes about the leadership we have at the business-school level and the confidence business has in business schools.”
Arnold, a lawyer, businessman, former diplomat, professor and journalist, has a keenly strategic approach to business and the world, and is mindful of the challenges facing today’s leaders across all spheres of society.
These challenges of globalisation, the speed at which the world moves and the impact of technology not only span the leadership theme at Leaderex 2016; they also talk to innovation, the future of work, how we lead our businesses and our nation, how we manage our own lives and careers, and how we inspire business growth and entrepreneurship.
The complex global world in which we live requires a particular focus on how we strategically mould our society. A former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Arnold offers this anecdote to illustrate the complexities of decision-making and leading in a digital world, in which information is plentiful and demanding: “I used to be in the United States government, and one of the first assignments I had, during the period of the Iranian crisis, was to review a number of asylum applications from Iran to the United States. From floor to ceiling were boxes of applications, and I was the last vote on whether people got asylum or not. I looked and read, then I called a colleague and said I didn’t think I could decide.
“He said: ‘You were not hired for what you know; you were hired for your judgment.’ That is where we are today. It is how well you have been able to develop a train of judgment, and be coherent and cogent when under pressure. That is where business is today, and especially at the tip of Africa.”
While, on the whole, Arnold believes he is “fairly generous” in terms of his assessment of leadership across the spectrum of South African society, he admits to being “genuinely impressed by business leadership in South Africa”, and “I continue to think our leadership is better than most”. Leaderex aims to lift the bar even higher. Leaderex takes place on 24 August 2016 at Sandton Convention Centre. Entry is free if you register online at www.leaderex.com before 19 August.