Young Academic Supervises Five Master’s Students and a Doctoral Candidate

Young Academic Supervises Five Master’s Students and a Doctoral Candidate
From left: Ms Helvy Ndlovu, Mr Sandile Khomo, Professor Pfano Mashau, Ms Salisha Govender, Ms Khuthala Kakaza and Dr Sepele Matlala.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic Professor Pfano Mashau (32) celebrated supervising five master’s students and a PhD candidate to great academic success which was rewarded at UKZN’s 2022 Spring Graduation ceremony.

The PhD in Leadership Studies graduate is Dr Sepele Matlala, while the master’s graduates are Business Administration’s Ms Helvy Ndlovu and Ms Salisha Govender, and Commerce in Leadership Studies’ Ms Khuthala Kakaza, Mr Sandile Khomo and Ms Boniwe Zungu.

‘I have supervised a few dissertations to date but what makes this group important is that they were all researching problems they have observed at their workplace,’ said Mashau. ‘I am glad to have been part of their research. As a young academic, it was an excellent opportunity to get a deep understanding of organisational issues and be part of the process of finding solutions.’

Matlala’s research, titled: Developing an Investor Aftercare Model for Promotion of the Agro-Processing Sector: The Case of Limpopo Province, led to the launch of Viwe Development Council, a socio-economic development agency to look after the interests of investors with the ultimate aim of addressing the high rate of unemployment in South Africa and beyond.

The agency was created out of the recommendations of his thesis for the institutional review of investor aftercare, and the implementation of an experiential investor aftercare model developed from the study for promoting the province’s agro-processing sector. 

With 13 years’ experience in the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), Ndlovu understands the importance of continued re-skilling and up-skilling. Hence, her thesis was titled:  Exploring the Role of Learnership Programmes in Reducing Unemployment: A Case Study of Ubucubu Home Industries.

‘I decided to conduct my study on one of the learning programmes,’ said Ndlovu. ‘I am hoping my former employer will consider implementing the recommendation because I have now discovered that they actually make a huge difference for learners and the quality of the training they receive. My new employer ensures me that the theory is balanced with work placement. This qualification has expanded my level of thinking and helped me develop management and leadership skills at a different level. I’ve become more innovative and strategic in my work.’

For Govender the diversification of her role as a Brewery Microbiologist and Food Safety Specialist at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) required expertise other than her technical capabilities. This led to her pursuing an MBA through research titled: The Impact of Flexible Work Hours on Employee Performance: A Case Study of AB InBev.

‘The demographics of the workforce are constantly changing, especially where maintaining a healthy work-life balance is concerned,’ said Govender. ‘Improving and sustaining employee performance has become a growing concern and a challenge for organisations across the world. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) organisations, which operate around the clock, see low points of employee performance, job satisfaction, plus high levels of absenteeism,’ she said.

Among the primary objectives of the research was determining the influence of flexible work hours on employee performance at AB InBev, whilst understanding the factors that impact this relationship.

‘The research was the first of its kind to be undertaken in AB InBev, with a specific focus on management level performance. The outcome of the research was positively received, especially when working from home became the “new normal” during the global pandemic. These insights provided the organisation with useful information to create effective solutions to enhance the performance of employees at AB InBev,’ said Govender.

Having been in her current leadership position at the Road Accident Fund for four years and more than 15 years in leadership, Kakaza wanted to gain a better understanding of people’s views/opinions about their employers which she achieved through her research titled: The Contribution of Job Satisfaction to Employee Commitment and Retention at the Road Accident Fund, KwaZulu-Natal.

‘This was my first full research study, focused on establishing the core aspects contributing to the commitment of employees to their employers, which positively influence employee retention. The findings were an eye-opener that employees are not just working for money but have other positive/good intentions for being employees in an organisation. This qualification has motivated me to study further towards a PhD and other post-doctoral degrees,’ said Kakaza.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan

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