The Munyaka couple debunked the myth that the Master of Business in Administration (MBA) leads to the breakup of marriages when they graduated with their degrees at UKZN in May.
Having been married for seven years, both Jean-Jacques and Nonsikelelo wanted to get an MBA and doing it together was a no brainer as their goal was to get it out of the way before they started having children. ‘We believed it would be beneficial to be on this journey together due to it being demanding of one’s time and requiring a lot of sacrifices, one being family time,’ said Nonsikelelo.
The role of leadership in managing change in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry was the title of Jean-Jaqcues’ dissertation while Nonsikelelo examined the potential impact of female leadership on the petroleum industry in Durban. Their studies were supervised by senior academics in UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) Dr Emmanuel Mutambara and Professor Ana Martins, respectively.
Jean-Jacques juggled studies with leading the engineering department for one of Distell’s sites and his research gave him valuable leadership insights which will contribute to his career growth towards executive-level leadership. It also sharpened his decision-making skills to effectively lead his current and future teams.
Although she is in the field of finance, Nonsikelelo started her MBA journey while working in the petroleum industry. She said: ‘The learnings from my research have been invaluable in navigating the different aspects of leadership required in each situation as I develop as a leader of a finance team in one of South Africa’s leading FMCG companies.’
The duo encourages married couples to embark on a similar journey together if possible. ‘We were each other’s support system and we were in the same study group to ensure at least one of us was available to take notes at all times,’ said Jean-Jacques.
While they had each other, the journey was marked by hurdles. In the second year after completing their coursework, they fell pregnant and started new jobs. These developments required that they put their dissertation writing on hold to focus on their growing family and the new chapter of their lives.
Commenting on their academic journey Jean-Jacques said: ‘We’re really excited about our achievement, it is really fulfilling. Studying together made our day-to-day conversations very interesting as well. We look forward to our next studies together.’
Reflecting on other support structures in her academic journey, Nonsikelelo said: ‘Over and above our incredible supervisors, I’d like to convey my sincere gratitude to my former manager, Mrs Angela Wild, who went above and beyond to ensure I had access to all I needed, especially after I left the organisation.’
The Munyakas are football fanatics; however, they support different clubs, which makes it interesting around the house when their teams play against each other!
Words: Hazel Langa
Photograph: Abhi Indarajan