SAIA Mailbag Questionnaire
Aug 24, 2018

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  1. Name: Zanele
  2. Surname: Gigaba
  3. What course had you recently embarked on? I recently finished my Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
  4. Which Tertiary Institution? Wits Business School
  5. When did you start on it and how long did it take you to finish it? I started my studies at the beginning of 2016, and it took me a year to complete on a full-time basis.
  6. How did you know it was the correct fit for you at this stage of your career? At some point in 2014 I realised that I had reached the proverbial ceiling, and advice from friends, family and colleagues pointed me to this lifetime venture.
  7. What did you find most challenging during the course of your studies? Having been a professional for almost 20 years before going back to the classroom, being a single mother and having financial commitments made my decision quite challenging. Dealing with work and family alone can be daunting, therefore the decision to study on a fulltime basis was the most suitable one for me at the time. I also had to manage my finances in such a way that they would last the whole year. My family was very supportive though, I sold my car and my sister and niece lent me their cars to use now and then. My children had to adapt to a life of public transport and my absence, which they did to the best of their ability.
  8. How do you often balance work/study/family life? Prior to my MBA I found studying quite tiring and balancing it a big challenge. I can say that MBA has taught me skills that have made time management and the ability to read for long periods of time, while absorbing the information quite easy. I still prefer to keep time aside for my children, so that they don't feel abandoned. I guess the most important lesson for me was to study topics that I am curious about, they keep you engaged. Also, these topics should be relevant to the current economic, political and social issues South Africa is grappling with. All professions have something to contribute to South Africa, that's very important to know.
  9. Would you recommend it to any of your colleagues? Definitely, I would recommend doing MBA to my colleagues, but moreover studying in general. Nowadays, universities have shorter and more impactful courses that we can take instead of the general streams like B.Comm, LLB, etc. Find something that will satisfy your curiosity and short enough to be achievable. The challenge is that these courses can be a bit expensive.
  10. What was your final research based on and how did you decide on it? The only industry I know is the short-term insurance industry, or at least prior to doing my MBA I thought I new it. I came across Financial Inclusion during my year of study and this topic opened my eyes to the importance of insurance. I've always wondered why there was a low uptake of our products in the low income market and being passionate about transformation helped me decide on my topic. I therefore researched the "Willingness to Pay (WTP) for property insurance for people living in rural areas of South Africa".
  11. What is your advice to others thinking of embarking on an MBA? Business schools offer a variety of options regarding studying MBA, investigate these, know yourself, MBA is expensive so once you start you need to finish. Engage with your family for support. The older you are and the more experience you possess, the better your journey will be. They say the ideal time is mid to late 30's. I waited until I was 40 to start, but I don't regret it, it changes your view of life and the environment in which we live, play and operate.
  12. What book would you recommend to a mentee? I'm not a book person unfortunately, I find that I lose interest quickly. I read a lot of research papers on topical issues, and I also love the business section of newspapers. My advice to a mentee will be to find a way to understand all sides of the story with regard to what's happening in South Africa and the world, it makes you a better person.
  13. So what next? I want to do a second Masters Degree, preferably in an overseas institution. My current interests are regional economic development, I'd like to contribute towards South African economic policies to help emerging businesses and youth realise their full potential. The Microinsurance legislation is now out, my long-term plan is to run a microinsurance company and fulfil my lifelong dream of providing affordable and usable insurance products to the South African market.

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