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(Photos : Leigh Willson)
AL MAKTOUM SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE
In world terms, there’s little doubt, the Soccer World Cup will change the way we are. For a little country like ours to be hosting an event of such moment, is remarkable. But we need it, by God we need it. For all this country’s been through, it’s our time now, and South Africans are determined to show the world, that this really will be the African century.
In racing terms though, the South African story of the year will be the Al Maktoum School of Management Excellence. There are not many schools of any kind serving the racing industry, some indictment in a business dominated by the rich and famous. But this one, under way right now at Summerhill, will change lives, for what it will do for people who have never dreamed of the stations they will aspire to as its graduates.
We know we’ve been lucky at Summerhill, and every day we hear of another soul willing to come to this “party” we know we’re even luckier.
Yet, in a twenty year relationship with the Ruling Family of Dubai, we had our luckiest moment. Their support of this project has enabled us to commit to a school of which every pupil will be proud. A school which, in time, the world will want to attend. And an education which will provide, at last, for graduates with the skills to manage. At a world class level.
Driving this project till now, has been Barbara Meier, our H.R.Manager. Two months ago, Heather Morkel and I made the “mistake” of accepting an invitation (from Moneyweb’s Alec Hogg,) to address the S.A. Institute of Personnel Management. They wanted to hear the fairytale of Summerhill’s “upliftment” story. All one thousand delegates.
Ours is not an ordinary story. It tells of a district with 80% unemployment and very few skills to speak of. Today, without any formal rules besides the Law of Common Decency, we’re embarking on our 36th international scholarship for our Zulu grooms. Our traditional dance troupe is the pride of the continent, 3rd in Tokyo, 2nd in Hong Kong. In the world. All thirty-odd of them.
Two of our young Hartford cooks, with just primary educations, have cooked for this country in Zurich and Prague.
The delegates at the Institute conference couldn’t, no, they wouldn’t, believe it. They stood and clapped in the isles when it was all over. One delegate who took it seriously though, represented the ANC personnel team in Parliament. The road to Damascus (or to parliament) was obvious. Recruit Barbara Meier, and she’ll fix everything. So she’s on her way to Cape Town, but she’ll not be lost forever. She’s done sterling work thus far, and in her very generous way, she’s volunteered to get the stuff in progress over the line.
In her stead, we have Glynn Rasper, with a steep history in H.R.management, and importantly, a bit of overseeing building projects at Selborne Country Club. So the School will be just fine. And I’ve promised not to be so rapturous about our achievements at conferences in the future!