Gala Celebration for Henley Africa Graduates

26 November 2014

Gala Celebration for Henley Africa Graduates

On 25 November 2014, 143 Henley graduands, their families and friends attended a lively and festive graduation ceremony at The Forum in Sandton.


On 25 November 2014, 143 Henley graduands, their families and friends attended a lively and festive graduation ceremony at The Forum in Sandton. While graduands donned their caps and gowns, their guests had pre-ceremonial refreshments to the strains of the Soweto String Quartet, and their children enjoyed a carnival atmosphere of face-painting, balloon animals and magic tricks.

Once guests had taken their seats in the auditorium, drummers heralded the ceremonial procession, after which Prelude, the praise poet, gave a stirring performance.

Honouring the graduates’ achievements, Prof Ginny Gibson, the Deputy Dean of Henley Business School, delivered the opening address. “This next generation of graduates from Henley in South Africa will, no doubt, go on to shape people’s lives and change the business landscape for the common good,” she said.

“We hope that, during your journey, we have helped you to understand, not only the challenges that you face here in South Africa and beyond, but also the importance of the future and how the legacy of your own actions can contribute to a better society.”

Loud applause echoed around the auditorium as the Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell, and Henley Africa’s Dean and Director, Prof Jon Foster-Pedley, conferred degrees on 75 MBA graduates and awarded certificates to graduates of the Managers’ Accelerated Progression Programme and Professional Certificate in Coaching.

Sir David honoured the graduates for their scholarship, devotion to study and sheer hard work. “As graduates of Henley in South Africa, you are living proof of the transformational power of education and the contribution it makes to national success here in South Africa.

Your education provides a sharpness of analysis, a respect for evidence and a healthy scepticism. I would encourage you to be bold in all that you do, bold in your thinking and in your actions. If opportunities are lacking, provide the opportunities. If hope is wanting, be ever-hopeful. And if change is needed, be that change. For we will have failed in our mission to educate you well if we have not also embedded, even more deeply, the values of service and selflessness to your business, your organisation and, of course, your nation.”

Professor Foster-Pedley concluded the ceremony with an inspiring address, appealing to the graduates, as people who are stepping up to become leaders, to work with a sense of purpose before career or profit. “This is an extraordinary time in South Africa – a time of scary challenges but of enormous possibility too. We need the courage to be optimistic and to scrub all traces of Afro-pessimism from our minds and attitudes.”

He added that Africa is becoming increasingly important to the rest of the world for its resources, agricultural land and rapidly growing markets, and predicted that in the future it will become just as important for its talent.

“I often think about what the new Africa is going to look like; people from all walks of life who recognise the significance of sticking to the true roots of African consultative and ethical leadership. People like you.

One of the aspects of studying is that it’s not only what you learn, but that you learn to learn. And learning to learn is a powerful act, because it allows us to understand that we can face anything. When we learn to learn, we don’t have to fear uncertain futures, because we can learn our way through them.

Finally, we must have fun, for it is through fun, play, experimentation and exploration that we express our most radical capabilities of imagination and creativity. Let’s keep it vibrant, let’s encourage creativity, let’s encourage change and let’s not be fearful. Be those heroes that we need so dearly in Africa.”

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