TWIMS is celebrating its top students Abdul Hassim and Warren Sachs. To honour their achievement and pass down their experiences to new and potential students, we decided to interview Abdul and Warren.
Abdul and Warren both achieved the top overall PGDip (Post-Graduate Diploma) student mark out of the entire GIBS and TWIMS cohort for 2020 and 2021 respectively. The size of this achievement is immense, out of cohorts that consisted of approximately 300 professionals, Abdul and Warren placed first in each of their respective years. TWIMS is incredibly proud of their achievement – Well done Abdul and Warren!
Why did you choose to pursue the manufacturing-focused PGDip/MBA?
Early on in my career I set the goal of completing a CA qualification along with an MBA. I believed this would position me to add value in business while leveraging my financial and analytic strengths. This guidance was also given to me by my dad when I first started with my tertiary studies.
GIBS was always an institute that I admired and their partnership with TWIMS really made it an easy choice. I am passionate about African industrialisation, innovation and sustainability which are some of the key themes promoted in the manufacturing-focused PGDip/MBA.
I have spent over 25 years in the manufacturing sector and while I had a strong technical and operations background, I needed to complement this with an MBA.
When TWIMS opened in 2019, offering the manufacturing-focused MBA it was the ideal opportunity to complement my technical experience with a manufacturing-focused MBA. The breadth of learning has been vast, but the content has been appropriately aligned with the needs of the manufacturing sector.
What was the toughest challenge pursuing the PGDip, while working and juggling your personal life?
From a work perspective, it was challenging due to the demands of working at a listed company and having to travel for business development. My spouse also has a busy role as a CA in a technology firm. This added to our demands and meant we had to manage our time on top of raising three kids all under the age of 4 at the time.
We had welcomed the birth of our third child during my PGDip year which meant that we had to be realistic about commitments, to balance family, work and studies amongst others. We are grateful for the support of colleagues, family and the faculty in getting us through this journey.
I found that the volume of reading was a lot more than expected, and the time required to complete assignments and prepare for exams was significantly more than I had initially planned.
I was in the very privileged position of having a supportive family and colleagues who patiently took on additional tasks when I was focused on an assignment or readings. Possibly the biggest challenge is deciding what you can’t fit into your schedule and not trying to do everything – it is just not possible.
What kept you motivated to succeed during your PGDip journey?
I was fortunate to be included in an amazing cohort, that really made the journey fun and enlightening. During difficult moments, it really helped to get motivation from each other to strive for better results.
The TWIMS campus itself provides motivation in its architecture and its staff were a source of inspiration and support. TWIMS has truly become a centre of knowledge and hope in developing new executive skills that can add value to the continent.
My dad had been one of my main mentors during my career, but he sadly passed away a little over two weeks before the PGDip began. He had always wanted me to complete my MBA and he would have been devastated if I had even contemplated quitting.
My family was overwhelmingly supportive and helped to keep me focused. The quality of the course content and its applicability to the work context made the journey feel truly worthwhile.
Finally, the staff and faculty at TWIMS are very supportive and knowledgeable and give so much effort that you feel obliged to give 100% effort.
What was your greatest learning outcome from the PGDip experience?
My greatest learning outcome came on the applied business project where we worked together with the leadership of Dube Trade Port special economic zone. It allowed me to understand how business and government can work together to develop smarter cities and new industries towards sustainable development.
The syndicate assignments force you to face your personal weaknesses and learn how to complete tasks as a team. Despite the challenges everyone faced over the year we always came through and finished every assignment properly. When I look back at the year, I cannot believe how much I have learned about business.
How are you applying what you learnt in your current role at work?
I use almost all aspects of my MBA learnings at work. As an example, I recently expanded my commercial and supply chain functional area. I had to lead and influence the team on the strategic benefits of the organizational structure changes and how we could enhance service offerings to our customers.
Every course contributes to a more balanced view of the business and people working in it. I have found myself frequently referring back to notes and articles for guidance. It is as much about a change in perspective and your way of thinking as it is about the content of each course, and I believe that my colleagues and staff would say that they have seen a significant change in my management style.
What role do you have in the manufacturing sector and has this/how has this changed as a result of your studies?
I was fortunate to transition companies during my MBA studies. I moved from a large freight services company to a global integrated supply chain organization that provides platform and equipment pooling solutions. The business model is centred around circular economies and sustainable supply chains which was the theme of my thesis. My role involves leading a team in carrying out strategic commercial transactions across the supply chain, manufacturing, and new customer acquisition.
I am the managing director of a technical textiles company based in Durban and am fortunate to be studying further along in my career than may be deemed normal. I believe that my understanding of the environment in which we operate has improved significantly as has the quality of my decision making.
What contribution do you hope to make to the manufacturing sector in South Africa?
I want to use my skills in business strategy, sustainable supply chains and commercial finance to create new opportunities within manufacturing in Southern Africa. I would like to be involved in renewable and regenerative ways of doing business, which can contribute to the economy and environment.
I am passionate about development, particularly of SMMEs in the manufacturing space. There are several ambiguities and complexities facing SMMEs in South Africa, yet there are also countless opportunities. I truly believe that I am in the fortunate position to be able to contribute to the sustainable growth and success of manufacturing-based SMME’s.
Any words of wisdom to others who may be contemplating embarking on the manufacturing-focused MBA?
The MBA has allowed me to further my potential and transform multiple areas in my life. I am thankful for the support of family, colleagues and faculty that helped me through the journey.
The course, while designed for the future of manufacturing, covers a wide range of associated industries. This may allow you to future proof your career by exposing you to new industries and paradigm shifts that are quickly changing the world of business.
This has been one of the most profound journeys of my career and life. I believe that it is critical to commit fully to the process and dedicate the time required to prepare for and complete the degree. Implementing what you learn is a critical part of the process.
Although the degree is manufacturing-focused, the PGDip is generic and you will learn a lot about finance, human behaviour and economics. Don’t think that this MBA is only about operations.
Finally, if you are up for a challenge and prepared to put in the effort, this programme will change your life for the better.
We hope that Abdul and Warren’s journeys will provide some guidance to those currently pursuing or thinking of doing a manufacturing focussed MBA. If you are considering a GIBS MBA at TWIMS you can find out more by clicking below.