South African business schools placing well in global rankings

Even the most talented executives and managers sometimes need to improve their skills. While the majority of the world’s best business schools are located in Europe and the US, a number of African institutions are proving that they also have what it takes.

The Financial Times recently released its 2012 Executive Education Rankings, which includes five African business schools. With the exception of the Lagos Business School in Nigeria, all the African institutions included in the rankings are located in South Africa.

In essence executive education is aimed at developing the skills of managers and executives.

The Financial Times ranking comprises two lists – one for open programme providers and another for customised programmes. Open programmes draw together participants from across multiple companies and industries, whereas custom programmes are designed specifically for individual organisations.

The tables below show how the African schools performed.

Customised programmes
2012 Rank (out of a total of 70)InstitutionCountry
42University of Pretoria, GibsSouth Africa
57USB Executive DevelopmentSouth Africa
65University of Cape Town Graduate School of BusinessSouth Africa

Open programme providers

2012 Rank (out of a total of 65)InstitutionCountry
47University of Pretoria, GibsSouth Africa
54Lagos Business SchoolNigeria
55Wits Business SchoolSouth Africa
62 USB Executive DevelopmentSouth Africa

Interestingly the school that ranks first overall in the customised programmes list, US-based Duke Corporate Education, also offers courses in South Africa. Duke designed a programme for the managers of South African bank Absa. Barclays bank, Absa’s parent, was so impressed with the programme that from next year it will be taught to Barclays executives in Europe and beyond.

Commenting on the rankings, Zandile Nkhata, director of executive education at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB), said the Financial Times rankings are highly selective. “Only business schools with a strong international orientation and a high reputation are eligible – and very few of these are from countries outside Europe and the US.”

“The achievements of these five business schools serve as great promotion for business education in South Africa and on the African continent as a whole. It sends a strong message to the international market that African business education is globally competitive, and given the exchange rate, they are good value for money,” Nkhata added.

Emerging market experience

As more western companies expand beyond the developed world, many people see value in doing MBAs and other executive courses in emerging market schools located in countries such as India, China, South Africa and Latin America.

In an interview with How we made it in Africa last year, Prof Walter Baets, director of UCT GSB, said that most of the classical business schools’ models are designed for stable economies where everything is foreseeable. Executives operating in complex emerging markets with high uncertainty and inequality, however, need unique qualities to succeed.

“Emerging market thinking goes beyond the geographical emerging markets. For me it is all about thinking how are you as a leader able to take responsibility in an economy that is changing every day. That is something you would rather learn in an emerging market business school, than in a stable (western) business school,” he noted.