EBDA’S JUNIOR LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME BUILDS TOMORROW’S LEADERS
At the graduation of the first participants in the Ekurhuleni Business Development Academy EBDA Junior Leadership Programme (JLP) Niël Pretorius, CEO DRDGOLD said: “There’s one thing that no-one can take away from you — and that is knowledge.”
He said that a programme such as the JLP encourages and builds the dignity of those who attend it and encourages the graduates to take what they have learned and pass it on to others in a dignified manner.
Although all past and current course participants are employed by DRDGOLD the JLP is open to candidates from all corners of South African industry, beyond the mining sector.
Pretorius added that DRDGOLD embarked on this project in an effort to teach those attending the course about finance, management and decision-making, as well as to create a sustainable project that will help candidates grow in their current positions.
EBDA is essentially a community orientated social and labour plan project under the jurisdiction of Ergo Mining (Pty) Ltd and was established by DRDGOLD in 2008 at a projected cost of R52-million over the next five years.
Initiated in 2008, the year-long JLP is a qualification towards a national certificate in Generic Management at NQF level 4. The programme’s first intake was so successful that the top three graduates have been nominated by their company to further their studies through a management development programme at UNISA.
Each candidate on the programme is required to embark on an Impact Project on completion of the course and the sum total of the first intake’s impact project realised a collective saving and/or revenue generation of R1,4-million per month for their company.
“When you consider that the cost of the training amounted to R400 000 in total, this is a significant saving for the company,” EBDA manager Piet Pistorius commented.
At the end of each programme there are awards for the top student, the best Impact Project and the most improved student. Winners were judged on a number of criteria, such as the quality of their presentations, the financial impact of their projects, their overall performance throughout the course and the incorporation of project key performance areas.
Some examples of outstanding projects included a cost benefit analysis of hiring versus purchasing TLBs (tractor-loader-backhoes) at Ergo; implementation of geological drilling schedules to reduce costs associated with ad hoc drilling; interrogation of systems and controls to improve net cash flow in respect of living out allowances paid to contractors and VAT at ERPM and maintaining a constant oxygen supply into the elution process to improve extraction efficiencies dramatically.
The next group of JLP participants are well into this year’s programme and will graduate in December 2010.
Programme candidates are carefully selected based on their potential to fill future managerial and leadership positions in the organisation. The programme covers the following modules:
• Personal productivity
• Fundamentals of management
• Fundamental of economics and business finance
• Introduction to project management
“The course endeavours to teach the students how to create and nurture an environment of productivity in their respective workplaces,” says Pistorius. “The relationship between employers and employees has undergone radical change worldwide in the business arena. There is no longer such a thing as ‘job security’. The old mindsets no longer work and today’s companies must establish a different working relationship with their employees. Our module on the fundamentals of management looks at this so-called psychological employment contract.”
The Impact Project, completed by each candidate at the end of the course, must satisfy a set of criteria. It must cover or make use of as much course material as possible and must be as innovative as possible. It is required to be signed off and approved by the candidate’s line manager as a value-added project and must result in a measurable return on investment.
“At the end of the day, this return on investment in rands and cents is how the candidates’ employers benefit from the JLP,” says Pistorius. “But the benefit to these students goes way beyond financial returns. They enjoy a strong sense of achievement and an accumulation of fundamental business and life skills. There’s a real value add at a personal level. The programme also imparts secondary benefits such as presentation skills and computer proficiency.”
Students are evaluated on a session-by-session basis, not only by the course manager, but also by their peers, based on specific criteria. At the end of the course candidates undertake a three hour open book exam that Pistorius stresses is not about restating information from the text book — but requires application of models and theories learnt during the course.
Pistorius concludes: “This all-encompassing programme has been well received by the students and the company. Along the way, we have learnt a great deal about managing learners’ expectations and how best to apply the selection criteria at the outset so as to minimise the number of dropouts. We look forward to welcoming the next set of learners from both DRDGOLD and other companies and hope that they can implement as efficient and sustainable projects as their predecessors.”