Shadowing one of South Africa’s leading CEOs for a day has given me invaluable insight into what it takes to be a successful, yet personable CEO,” says Seema Bhikha of the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Seema is one of seven MBA students from top business schools who have been chosen for our CEO For A Day programme.

CEO For A Day, introduced in Europe seven years ago, is bringing together South African MBA students and CEOs to uncover and develop some of our country’s most promising talent. The selected students are paired with a top CEO for a full day while learning more about the CEO and his or her approach with the organisation.

“The programme provides the CEOs with an opportunity to transfer skills to the next generation of leaders, as well as to better understand what drives these future leaders. At the same time, we at Odgers Berndtson are helping the students gain access to a practical display of leadership, which will give them an idea of what it takes to get to an executive level,” says Leon Ayo, managing director of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa.

After a rigorous, five-phase selection process, Seema was matched with Louise Cooke, CEO of Parmalat. “I learnt so much from Louise, especially about the qualities leaders need to succeed. Young leaders need to learn how to reflect and become self-aware. This is the only way they’ll be authentic leaders,” she says.

Raymond Ledwaba of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business teamed up with Shanduka CEO Phuti Mahanyele. “Phuti put business issues into context for me, and explained some of the challenges facing businesses at the moment,” says Raymond. “I also became aware of the importance of remaining true to yourself, no matter what your title, and building relationships and connecting with people across the board,” he says.

Read about the experiences of the other five selected MBA students in our next newsletter.

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