"It’s a matter of developing Africa in collaboration with world class experts," says Deon Herbst CEO of E at UP during an interview with Kirtan Bhana, Founding Editor of The Diplomatic Society.
Having knowledge of the environment, a frontier culture of exploration and learning to survive are all important qualities to possess if you want to roll-out business in Africa and beyond. A major pillar of Enterprises at University of Pretoria Trust (E at UP), however, is honouring people for who they are and what they do. Empowering people is the key to the sustainability of any enterprise.
Continuing Education at University of Pretoria Trust (CE at UP) is the training entity of E at UP tasked with empowering people through courses with up-to-date and relevant information on the knowledge requirements of the various fields and sectors of the economy. The Group also provides various sectors of industry and government with specialist solutions through its contract research and consulting service entity, Business Enterprises at University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd (BE at UP).
“It’s fantastic to play and be involved in a winning team under the leadership of Prof Cheryl de la Rey – Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria and Chairperson of E at UP. She has created an environment and an ambiance focused on the deliverables in the total process of positioning the University as a top educational institution in the world,” says Deon Herbst CEO of E at UP during an interview with Founding Editor, Kirtan Bhana, of The Diplomatic Society.
Herbst, a pro-African ambassador, supporter of the Blue Bulls rugby team and a proud fan of AmaTuks, UP’s football club, is a keen fly-fisher and spends his leisure time in the outdoors alongside rivers and mountains which are an inspiration for his oil paintings.
He began his career as a researcher after becoming enchanted by the science of research data and the optimisation of statistical modelling. He became the Executive Director of a leading market research company, at the tender age of 33.
He defines the diverse and dynamic opportunities in Africa through the science of data research – 52 cities with populations of one million or more, the same as Western Europe; Africa’s need for infrastructure and the ability to pay for it due to increasing stability and alignment with market economics and decreasing debt and inflation. Africa will soon have the largest workforce in the world and the proliferation of mobile technology innovations abound. The growing spend on education, which is nearly double that of the OECD countries, is another reason Herbst is “passionate about Africa”.
The triangular model of science, industry and government has created a platform to grow the Group’s international footprint in over 90 countries since its establishment in 2000. The University has a 100 per cent holding in E at UP which has been positioned as a facilitator between the business and the public sector and the vast pool of multidisciplinary resources at the University. It aims to create an environment for entrepreneurship and the commercialisation and marketing of viable products and services.
In 2008, the enterprising concept was proactively perused when E at UP became operational as the official corporate holding entity for the Group – a fairly new venture at the time – in the international arena within a university context. Today E at UP, under the stewardship of Herbst, has developed into a Group which consists of retail entities like Bookmark, the official bookstore of the University and Wannabee, an UP-branded clothing and apparel outlet. The award winning radio station Tuks FM, INSiAVA, a start-up company of the University breaking new ground in the fields of optical communication and imaging displays and Consulta Research, a specialist marketing and communications research affiliate, also form part of the Group.
20 years of freedom in South Africa has certainly been instrumental in the successes achieved by the Group. They have trained staff in over 6 000 corporate and government institutions and have facilitated over 5 000 contract research and consulting projects. CE at UP has more than 500 courses on offer and has made an impact on the careers of more the 260 000 delegates.
According to Herbst his job is made easier as South African entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators are receiving international recognition and are being highly valued for their abilities. He once again urged for a responsible roll-out of business activity, stressing that bricks and mortar of commercial optimisation should have a major focus on human resource development if sustainability is to be guaranteed.
Herbst invites the members of diplomatic society, who have complemented the City of Tshwane in all their diversity, to visit the new premises of E at UP on the corner of Lunnon Road and Jan Shoba Street (previously Duncan Street), Hatfield. Having received numerous international delegations and facilitated engagements from science, statutory and commercial representatives alike, this kind of interaction will enhance the institution’s alignment to better serve the needs of the diplomatic mission. It will also enhance the institution’s position as global pivot to explore opportunities for innovation, to optimise collaboration and become a centre of knowledge sharing.