Protea Toyota, an independent car dealership in Cape Town, was looking for a customised executive education programme to help develop the skills of its existing managers and new managers.
The motor vehicle industry is extremely competitive and Protea Toyota required an executive education programme that would grow the skills set of its current managers and staff by exposing them to the advances in leadership development from around the world.
"We looked at quite a few offerings and many programmes were amazing but it was clear that the UCT GSB was the best. It is the only institution in Africa that had an executive education curriculum rated in the Top 100 business schools from around the world and that was important to us," said HR consultant Tracy Kemp. "The reputation of the UCT GSB impressed us and we wanted our team to experience the best."
The idea of getting a certificate at the end of the programme testifying to an executive education qualification from the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business was an added bonus.
The UCT GSB customised The New Manager, one of its flagship management development short courses, for Protea Toyota and structured it so that it could be offered at their premises so as not impact too much on the time of busy employees. The result was a modular programme that stretched over a period of six months. GSB facilitators came twice a month to Protea Toyota to teach on site and sent course material about a week in advance of each meeting, to allow participants time to prepare.
"In the first module we learnt about ourselves and our colleagues' management styles and how we function in the workplace according to our personality types. It gave us a lot of insight into ourselves and how we impact on others," says accountant Nazliyah Jakoet, who participated in the training.
She adds that they were told on the first day that they would be taken out of their comfort zone in order to get to know themselves better. "It was quite an eye opener for us, but in a good way, helping us to grow as people and as a team. Many people don't realise this but if you are a manager, most of your time is taken up by dealing with people."
New vehicle salesman Vusi Khumalo agreed, saying the programme opened a new way of thinking for him. He said it motivated him to pursue further studies as well. "It opened my eyes to the dynamics of the team and how to manoeuvre between people to get the best result in a situation."
"I was actually more than satisfied with the programme," says Jakoet. "I saw changes in myself long after we had finished. It changed the way I think about things and I could see how I was handling conversations with others differently than before."
A major positive outcome, according to Jakoet, was that team members were required to work together during the programme and, because it was held on work premises, there was a level of commitment to the process that might not have been the case had it been held elsewhere. "We were pushed to think out of the box and the whole experience was very interactive, we did not just sit back and listen, but actively participated."
As part of the programme, participants had to complete a written assignment after all lectures had been completed, tackling a real issue that they were confronted with in their daily work lives by applying concepts learnt in the course material. Thereafter they had to write a reflection on their learning journey during the assignment and on the course. This helped them to put into practice what they had learnt. "We were all able to identify some areas where we could run things better or more smoothly and streamline our operations," said Jakoet, adding that a number of interventions were implemented right away and it was interesting to see the improvements they could make.
In her sphere of influence, they were able to streamline internal processes by applying lean management principles learnt during the course.
On a personal level, Jakoet said the course also helped her to become a better communicator and writer, and to think more clearly and concisely, which has been of great benefit to her as she is currently finishing her postgraduate studies in management sciences.
A year after completing the customised programme that the UCT GSB developed for Protea Toyota, employees said that they were still seeing the benefits of the course.
Key impressions about the programme were summed up as follows:
Jakoet says everyone took away something from the programme. "It has impacted greatly on me personally and professionally. I would definitely recommend the programme in a heart-beat."
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