Nurturing knowledge by making an MBA student the boss

For any MBA student, the chance to job shadow one of South Africa’s preeminent CEOs is an incredible opportunity to witness servant leadership in action in a real-world business environment. The CEOx1Day programme facilitates this experience by pairing the country’s top MBA students with some of its best-known CEOs. As part of the program, Shane Sebastião shadowed Felix Ratheb, Chief Executive Officer of Sea Harvest.

Shane competed against the country’s foremost MBA students to be selected as CEO for a day, coming out tops in multiple rounds, including the one-on-one interview and group debate. Currently an MBA candidate at UCT Graduate School of Business, he said he found the opportunity to network with the executive team the most rewarding aspect of the experience. He was pleasantly surprised by the level of comfort Felix’s team demonstrated around him, showing the connection between the CEO and the business’ ground-level operations.

Shane Sebastiao Quote CEOx1Day

Odgers Berndtson Sub-Saharan Africa chatted with Shane to find out more about what he took away from his experience:

OBSA: What did you find was the most valuable part of the CEO for a day experience?

SS: Networking with the executive team was definitely the highlight for me. Felix heads up a world-class team and it was fantastic getting to know them a bit. Overall, I found the day very insightful and engaging. They facilitated an investor’s presentation which was great because it gave me a good perspective of the industry and provided me with an understanding of the business and the vision going forward. Learning about the industry dynamics that result in a premium priced product, the sustainability and regulation of Cape Hake, and the way the business has been positioned for growth and increased margins going forward are just some of the fascinating aspects I enjoyed learning about.

OBSA: What was the most surprising part of the experience?

SS: I assumed that there would be more disconnect between the CEO and operations on the ground level. The way Felix showed me the business clearly proved otherwise. His staff members are comfortable around him and I suppose this indicates that he is no stranger to the ground level of the business – which was great to see.

OBSA: What was your biggest outtake from the programme in terms of South African leadership?

SS: There definitely needs to be more accountability at a senior leadership level. I think we need more values-based leaders calling the shots that matter – both in the political space as well as in business.

The CEOx1Day programme is a global initiative exclusive to Odgers Berndtson with over 700 CEOs and students participating worldwide. Please email if you are interested in applying in 2018.