Homecoming: GSB graduate Segran Nair reflects on his six months back at the school.
In May this year, Segran Nair joined the Graduate School of Business (GSB) as the director of its entry-level and middle management core academic programmes, the Associate in Management (AIM) certificate programme and the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA). The appointment signalled a homecoming for Nair in two ways. For one, he is an alumnus of the GSB, having completed his MBA there in 2005. In addition, it marked his return to South Africa after a two-year stint in the US. "This is an exciting opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of South Africans, and I am looking forward to working with adult learners and the excellent faculty here at the UCT GSB," Nair said at the time. We caught up with him briefly to hear what he's learned over his first six months back at UCT.
MP: How familiar were you with the programmes, as a GSB graduate, before you stepped into office?
Nair: I was fortunate that when I did my MBA here, I interacted regularly with AIM students. I did so, not realising, of course, that it would have some significance in my life down the road. But even back then, I could see what AIM meant for students.
MP: What was expected of you when you took over the reins of the two programmes - give them a makeover, or keep the ship sailing true and steady?
Nair: I was in the lucky position of not having to overhaul anything, because there were really good folks that managed the programmes before. There's a rich history of well-established programmes that met students' needs. So for me, it's just carrying on with that tradition. And trying to be innovative in what I perceive are areas that we can improve on.
MP: Such as?
Nair: I think it's about tapping into the student support that the upper campus offers. So I've met with folks from the academic development unit in the Faculty of Commerce. Our programmes are geared towards adults, and as adults we have our own set of unique problems that we need help with. So I'm trying to look at student support services, and how to tailor a programme that is unique, for adult learning and adult learners.
MP: How have the first six months been in office?
Nair: It's been very interesting. Thankfully I'm quite used to the university environment and culture, and just the rigour of different aspects of university life. The fulfilling thing for me, I think, was just the interaction with students on both programmes, and listening to their experiences.
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