Gretchen Arangies is an MBA graduate of the University of Stellenbosch Graduate School of Business in South Africa. Having grown up on a farm in the eastern cape province, Ms Arangies completed the course while working full-time in human resources at Stellenbosch University, where she still works today.
The MBA graduate also recently won the Association of MBAs Global AMBAssador Challenge and will be representing the association and the MBA community at the UN Global Compact Sustainability Forum in Rio on Friday, 15 June 2012. Speaking on a panel, she will discuss recommendations for higher education, business and government leaders to integrate innovative solutions and practices that embrace responsible management.
Ms Arangies will be available to answer your questions in a live web chat on Wednesday, 13 June 2012, between 13.00 and 14.00 BST. Post your questions now to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be answered on the day.
1. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of graduating with a cum laude MBA from USB while working full-time. One of the most challenging – and worthwhile – modules on the USB MBA was leadership, which includes self-reflection.
2. Who are your business heroes?
As a science professor, my grandfather was actively involved in teaching until the age of 75. He was head of the department of pharmacology and toxicology in the faculty of veterinary science at the University of Pretoria. As a child, I remember how proud my mother was when she received the articles (via the post in those days) which he had published. This made a huge impression on me. I still have his articles.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
The best solution may not be the obvious one. Take a step back and think out of the box. Maybe you need to step out of your office for a while or do something else. This will help you to see the challenge at hand in a new light.
4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Whatever you do, the results will be lasting. You have to take full responsibility for the things you do and say as this has an impact on children and adults. You cannot take back what you have said or done.
5. What advice would you give to women in business education?
Believe in yourself and strive to fulfil your dreams. Maintain your femininity and do not try to behave like a man simply to be successful. Women are often too critical of themselves and are sometimes measured by higher standards than their male colleagues.
6. How do you deal with male dominated environments?
I can manage a male environment merely by being myself and by focusing on what is being discussed. In South Africa, the higher education sector is mostly still a male dominated environment, especially at senior levels. However, this is a pity as diversity stimulates creative thinking and creativity can be turned into a differentiating factor.
7. What is the last book you read?
Challenging Beliefs by Tim Noakes (a South African professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town). I am very fond of sport, so I devoured his book The Lore of Running when it was published. It is interesting to read that now - after years of research - he has been forced to adapt what he had always believed.
8. What is your favourite business book?
There are several, though I still use From Good to Great by Jim Collins. The book on my desk at the moment is The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne C. Meister & Karie Willyerd. It is about the way innovative companies attract, develop and keep tomorrow’s employees today. Coping with and managing different generations is becoming especially challenging in the field in which I work.
9. Have you ever been to any seminars / workshops that have helped you in your career?
I have found seminars and workshops on managing team resilience and on different personality types highly valuable. This allowed me to get to know the learning profiles of all the people reporting to me. Hence, I am able to angle my approach to each one of them according to their personal profiles. This helps to build relationships and optimise outputs.
10. What are your future plans?
My immediate plans have just taken an exciting new turn as I will be attending the UN’s Rio+ Corporate Sustainability Forum to speak on behalf of the Association of MBAs. I am honoured to have won this opportunity. The fundamental role of a Global AMBAssador is to champion a global MBA alumni network and offer opportunities to connect MBA graduates, business schools, employers, entrepreneurs and innovators across the globe. As part of my role, I will promote the value and benefit of an accredited MBA through the global network. I am really looking forward to this new challenge as I believe in the role of networking to build relationships and to acquire know-how.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke