An MBA Has Changed My Life Forever
Sure, it is a generalization, but the fact that there is name for it means it has happened enough times for people to notice. During the year I was a business school partner, there were a lot of highs and lows. I learned a lot about myself, about my partner and our relationship.
Grad School Gave Me the Courage to Change Careers
The community was buzzing with high achievers and game changers. The optimism people had to change the world was contagious. I included myself in some wonderful initiatives and before I knew it, I was asking myself: Why not? So, it just clicked. Of course, I did encounter resistance from myself, as usual. It only took the sheer sound of those words. You set your own limits and potentials. Whatever you aim for, which may seem near impossible now, you can get to.
Keep moving forward, one step at a time, and you can make that difference. I believe it now more than ever. The year went on, we eventually completed our degrees successfully and graduated in November After taking some time out to tour Europe a bit with our respective families, we both returned to South Africa to carry on with our separate lives. I ventured into the property development field while Katlego started a successful consultancy practice with his sister, Komotso, who was also a graduate of this school.
We stayed in touch, meeting up from time to time for a coffee and to share memories of our time in Trieste.
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Our respective careers were going from strength to strength and we both had great hopes for the future, until one day, I received the dreadful news that he had passed away tragically in a car accident with another member of his family. The news affected me badly. How could Katelgo be gone? It was just the other day that were planning to go out again together?
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I was devastated. His funeral was a moving affair and unlike anything I had ever seen before. Given that his family was quite prominent in the Bakwena community, literally over a thousand people were there to pay their respects at the church. But what struck me most, was that I was one of only a tiny handful of Europeans there, and the only one who was asked to give a eulogy who was not a relative of his family. For those of you who are familiar with the history of South Africa, the country was one that has had a very chequered history and relationship between different ethnic groups have often been strained.
Yet, as my name was called out to speak and I took the podium, I was struck with an overriding sense of warmth from the crowd. What I share with you earlier in my speech was just a part of that eulogy and as I spoke they welcomed my every word, a thousand eyes fixed on me transcending race and ethnicity. Bound by a common thread, we were able to mourn together and praise the short life of our common friend.
After the funeral, when I returned home that night, I sat back in my study and started reminiscing about my time at MIB with Katlego and the rest of my MBA colleagues, one thought that came to mind was to: Reflect, how every human being hangs suspended by a slender string! Cut that string, and they are gone forever.
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Feeling more and more depressed on the loss of my friend, and probably exacerbated too by the recent passing of my own father a few months before, my mind started to wonder until I remembered a story that Professor Pilotto once told us during our course on International Relations. It was the story of a certain bridge in the Balkans: The Bridge on the Drina.
I am sure that many of you here this morning may have read the book or at least be familiar with the story — that of a bridge built in the 15th century by the Grand Vizer of the Ottoman Empire on the banks of the river Drina, adjacent to the Bosnian village of Visegrad.
The book follows the story of how the Viser as a young boy was taken from his mother as a tribute to the Sultan, a practice common at the time, to be converted to Islam and trained in the schools of the empire as a highly skilled administrator. Over the years, he worked his way up the ranks and at the age of 65 eventually became grand Viser of the Empire. Overseeing the expansion of Ottoman Rule into the Balkans, he remained haunted of the day he was separated from his mother and resolved to build a bridge over the spot on the River Drina where he was taken away from her.
And we have to be in touch with our own values to make things happen.
RSM Dean Steef van de Velde praised all graduates for their achievements, and encouraged them to stay critical thinkers and creative doers as agents for positive change. He said business should play a key role in solving big societal challenges such as inequality and poverty. The graduation ceremony concluded with a festive reception.
RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam — a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.