Global conference discusses role of MBAs

Collaboration and responsible leadership were the main themes to emerge from the Association of MBAs’ (AMBA) Global Leadership Conference held at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa in February.

Speakers from NASA, CNN and the Distill Foundation alongside social entrepreneurs and business school Deans demonstrated and discussed the role MBAs and management education can play in changing the world of business.

The conference was attended by MBA graduates and alumni from AMBA-accredited business schools chosen to be Global AMBAssadors. The 33 Global AMBAssadors are from 24 accredited business schools across the world, including Australia, China, New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, France and UK and nationalities including Vietnamese, Swiss, Pakistani and Indian.

“Together the Global AMBAssadors will create a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing and engagement with MBAs, business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators across the world,” said Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher, Chief Operating Officer, the Association of MBAs. “They also represent the benefit of quality education and accredited MBAs.”

John Powell, Director of the University of Stellenbosch who hosted the conference and spoke on leadership said: “Events like this are crucial in championing ethical and innovative leadership, as well as building networks among the South African and global MBA communities.”

In his opening keynote address, Vernon de Vries, Director of Corporate Affairs, Distell Foundation said “values are at the core of humanity and values-based leadership needs to permeate the whole company.”

In a discussion on values and ethics Kim Norgaard, CNN’s South Africa Bureaux Chief said: “To stay ahead of the game, don’t wander from your core principles.”

NASA’s Nicholas Skytland told the audience of MBA alumni and students: “We have a responsibility as leaders to think differently about our role in society.” The NASA Project Manager oversees innovation through mass collaboration, by encouraging new partnerships between government, industry, academia and the general public.

Social entrepreneur Sameer Hajee said “innovation is about incentivising everyone – from the customer to the employee and the entrepreneurs.”

The CEO of Nuru Energy, founded his company on the simple recognition that the poorest in the world have least access to electricity. He created an alternative electricity source powered by human energy which is now distributed in Rwanda and Kenya.


Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (