Celebrating 5 years of CEOX1Day in South Africa

Odgers Berndtson celebrated five years of its unique CEOx1Day programme with cocktail events in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with timely addresses by Bonang Mohale and Professor Nick Binedell.

CEOX1Day ‘lifts’ the future leaders of SA by empowering MBA students to spend a day in the shoes of a top SA executive. Globally, 18 000 students have applied, and 350 CEOs have participated in 12 different countries.

The reciprocity of the programme is what makes it unique. By teaching tomorrow’s leaders, today’s CEOs get deep insights into the minds of millennials – the generation now having its ‘moment’ in the ‘workplace sun’.

Lifting others

The CEOx1Day programme is perfectly embodied by two key messages delivered by the speakers at the Cape Town and Johannesburg events, respectively:

Bonang Mohale

“Nothing is more valuable to the heart than to lift someone else to your level or higher.” Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa and author of Lift As You Rise.

Then, the words of Professor Nick Binedell, Former Dean of the Gordon Institute of Business Science, resonated with the audience.

Nick Binedell

“What tons of people need is a room with a view to help them ‘get the picture’. If you are prepared to do the work and put your hand up, you will be given, occasionally, a room with a view and this programme does exactly that. You get a sense of what real leadership is and what the immense challenges of leading are – going first and putting yourself at risk, emotionally and psychologically.”

Challenging times

At a time when South African leadership is under extreme pressure on a number of fronts, the speakers provided plenty of food for thought, as summarised below.

  1. Every country has that moment when everything starts to change. That’s a moment to celebrate:

    Mohale:In Russia, the moment came after the Russian Revolution. In Japan, it was after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Angola, it was after Savimbi died. In Rwanda, it was after the genocide. In South Africa, it was on 22 April 1994, when the free people went to the polls. That was our moment. An amazing dream was gifted to us.”

  2. We’ve been through some seriously tough times, but we have a lot going for us:

    Binedell: “We are a constitutional democracy – a remarkable framework and a great asset. We have amazing skills and can make a valuable contribution to our continent. 40% of all people under the age of 18 will be African by 2030. We have an interesting private sector with great multinationals. There is no country of our size that has produced more globally competitive companies – SABMiller, DeBeers, etc.”

  3. Now is the time to look forward. The new dawn is here. Now is the time to rise and lift others as we do so:

    Mohale (on South Africa): “We have to move forward with hope and enthusiasm and give effect to Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela’s South Africa… A new dawn pervades every corner.”

    Binedell (on Africa): “If you want to make a difference, you are in the right place at the right time. This continent of a billion people is begging for leadership, solutions, for institutions, great individuals and great infrastructure.”

  4. It’s going to take strong strategic leadership with the ability to get things done:

    Binedell: “These are the four elements of leadership:
  • Rivalry is a human instinct. Am I prepared to fight for what I believe in? There are winners and losers in this game. SA is a country of 55 million people on a continent of a billion.

  • High standards. What standards do we set for ourselves and others? Leaders set very high standards for themselves and colleagues. How do they come about? How do you measure them?

  • In this remarkable era of disruption, you must be smarter than your lunch or you will become the lunch. You must disrupt yourself, your colleagues and your organisation.

  • We follow people who have an answer to why not just how. South Africa has amazing institutions, but we must ask: what is their real purpose? Purpose is not expressed in mission and vision statements, but by what we do every single day.”
  1. Businesses have an integral role to play in leading this transformation:

    Mohale: “Don't wait until you are at the pinnacle. Lift as you rise. Businesses need to continue to do well by doing good… The sun shines to warm others.”

Lifting the country

Businesses have a big role to play in ‘lifting SA’. Our current leaders have a massive responsibility to lift tomorrow’s young leaders. Chania Stempowski, Joint MD of Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa, believes the CEOx1Day programme presents a unique opportunity for CEOs to experience this. “The incredible feedback from those who have participated shows what a beneficial – and unique – opportunity this is.”

Chania continues that, in future, executive recruitment, talent management and succession planning is going to be more of a focus than ever before. “Industry 4.0, digitization and globalisation are demanding increasingly specialised skills, constant change, and a complete rethink in organisational design. With this comes the need for a more ‘human’ and transformational approach to leadership.”

“Leaders today need to exemplify the qualities of collaboration, creativity, empathy and humility.”

“These are all virtues Bonang embodies. They’re also skills we believe our CEOx1Day programme instils.”

Take part in CEOX1Day

The CEOx1Day programme is and has been an enriching experience for many of South Africa’s CEOs. To be part of our 2019 CEOx1Day programme – as either a CEO or MBA student – please get in touch with us. The new programme will kick off in April.

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