Dr Kariema Price had a lot of irons in the fire in 2008. When she didn’t have her hands full as mother to three young children (then aged two, six and ten) she was managing the finances of a nine-year-old business, Pyramid Electrical Contractors, a company she founded with her husband, Ganief. At the time, the couple were toying with the idea of broadening their service portfolio and expanding the geographical footprint of their Cape Town-based businesses into other provinces as well.
But Kariema was also keen to develop her business management skills in order to, as she put it, “better equip herself with the competencies required in her role within the company”. She chose to kick-start her journey as a student on the Associate in Management (AIM) programme at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB).
Her transition back into the classroom wasn’t without its challenges, especially as it meant juggling family and business responsibilities with the demands of academic rigour. “I quickly learnt to compartmentalise, prioritise and split both my time and focus,” she recalls.
Things clicked at the UCT GSB. Price found that the theory she was learning in class harmonised perfectly with her real-world experiences and developmental needs as an entrepreneur. So, for instance, her studies allowed her to do the due diligence and write up an expansion plan for Pyramid. But more than that, Price took a liking to academia, to “all the research and the writing”.
It showed. Not only did she graduate from AIM with distinction, but she also picked up a Woman in Construction Award from the Western Cape Department of Transport & Public Works that same year.
AIM proved to be the beginning of a long association with the UCT GSB. In 2009, Price completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and wrapped up her MBA in 2011. In her thesis – inspired by her own experiences – she explored the trials, tribulations and triumphs of couples in ‘copreneurship,’ relationships and businesses. The following year, she packed up her family and took them along to India for an MBA exchange – courtesy of the UCT GSB – at the “family-oriented” Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. On returning to South Africa, she completed the six-month associate coaching course at the UCT GSB’s Centre for Coaching.
Soon Price was dipping her toes in the teaching waters as well. She was lecturing on the human resource management component of the UCT GSB’s Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurship, and on the business studies course offered across programmes at CPUT.
Her own studies weren’t done, either. She was intrigued by students’ varied and often negative perspectives on the value of business studies and “its potential as an enabler to an entrepreneurial career path”, she says. She chose to delve into these experiences, and those of subject educators, in her doctorate.
She graduated with a PhD in 2019 from, it should go without saying, the UCT GSB. And it seems that her enthusiasm for the business school is contagious; her husband is set to graduate from the PGDip at the end of this year.
Explaining her long association with the UCT GSB, Price says that other than her passion for business, she would have to say it was the interactive learning platform that the school provided that kept drawing her back. “It was always engaging - the lecturers, the class interactions, the discussions.”
Ever hungry to expand her horizons—and those of others—Price launched another venture over the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown: Kariema Price Coaching. Again inspired by her own experiences, she is offering business wellness coaching to “help other women in business navigate the symbiotic relationship of personal development and business growth in the world of entrepreneurship”, she explains.
“When someone comes to me with a business concern, more often than not I’ve discovered that there’s an underlying issue that hinders their entrepreneurial development,” she says of her interest in coaching. “Continued personal development enriches your offering, both as an entrepreneur and as a member of society.”