Julius Namoloh’s experience as a student at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Graduate School of Business (GSB) has not all been plain sailing. Early in his studies, Namoloh’s employer cancelled his funding, leaving him to make the hard choice between abandoning his master’s degree or paying his own way.
Born in the copper-mining town of Tsumeb, Namibia, Namoloh started formal schooling late in life.
“I grew up in northern Namibia – which was a war zone, at the time – during the liberation struggle,” he said. “My father went into exile when I was just months old. I was brought up by my single grandmother, looking after livestock, goats and cattle.”
When his father returned from exile when he was 15, Namoloh finally got the chance to start formal schooling, jumping five grades to start in Grade 6.
“It was difficult, especially the English language,” he recalled.
A background in finance
Namoloh’s first degree was in financial management, majoring in management accounting, after which he worked as a senior financial officer for 13 years. Then he was inspired to study again, at the GSB, after being introduced to the institution by a friend who pursued a postgraduate diploma there.
“I was impressed by the flexibility of the study modules,” said Namoloh, adding that he had no difficulty choosing his master’s degree programme.
“I have had a passion for finance for a long time and I wanted to study further, but I wanted to do something a bit broader than financial or management accounting. I initially thought of doing financial economics, but when I found out about the development finance programme at the GSB, I just knew that this was exactly what I wanted.”
While still holding down his full-time job, Namoloh decided to embark on the two-year Master of Commerce (MCom) in Development Finance degree.
“After those block classes I used to find tasks piling up at work. I also had a number of assignments. It was not a walk in the park.”
He faced a major challenge when his employer, who had offered to fund his course, pulled out unexpectedly. Namoloh had a tough decision to make – give up on his master’s dream or find another solution. With the support of his wife back home in Namibia, the couple sold their car to allow him to complete his degree.
“The support system and study environment at the GSB was excellent and motivating.”
It was made easier by the GSB’s climate of support and motivation.
“The support system and study environment at the GSB was excellent and motivating, especially seeing fellow students from places even further away than myself. This made me determined to see this through,” he said.
Primarily motivated by his wife and parents, Namoloh said that his parents had “achieved something” in spite of their less educated backgrounds, which had inspired him to complete his studies.
But it was his wife who was most supportive: “My dear wife has been a motivator. She took care of all the household tasks while I was away in Cape Town – and she was studying too, at Namibia University of Science and Technology. She graduated with her honours degree last April,” he said.
Namoloh has three children: two daughters aged 14 and eight, and a five-year-old son.
“My plan is to keep on learning, and do some consulting work for my country, the SADC region and the world.”
His master’s degree may be in the bag, but Namoloh has no plans to abandon academia just yet.
“I still want to study further, and I am contemplating a PhD in economic security or something in that line. I also have an interest in sovereign debt management, and I want to expand my understanding in that area too.”
Completing his MCom degree had changed him as a person, Namoloh said.
“I have developed a high level of self-confidence. I think independently, analyse issues critically, and I have developed a culture of reading.”
He intends to use his new-found skills in the real world of development finance in the future.
“My plan is to keep on learning, and do some consulting work for my country, the SADC region and the world. In order to serve humanity I will be looking for opportunities in those areas,” Namoloh said.
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