Mathew de Kock and Thabani Nzimande
Mathew de Kock and Thabani Nzimande

Mathew de Kock and Thabani Nzimande

(Photo : National Stud, UK)


Summerhill Stud

We learned a long time ago about the value of education. There was no inheritance at Summerhill, no big business to fund its growth, just relationships and the sacrifice of our people. That means we have to get up that bit earlier in the mornings, we have to box that bit smarter, just to stay in the swim. One of the best calls we ever made, was investing in our people. Hence the birth of our School of Management Excellence, one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world.

Lewis Carroll was obviously high on serotonin when he penned “Through The Looking Glass”. When Alice confessed she couldn’t believe in the impossible, the White Queen responded “Some days, I’ve believed six impossible things before breakfast”. If ever proof was needed that the Summerhill team also lives in Wonderland, this School is it. We often asked ourselves whether it wasn’t an extrarordinary extravagance for a Zulu farm, but the answer was never in doubt. No country needed it more, and no country deserved it more.

Of necessity, most things with us have had humble beginnings. We kicked off with a crèche, then a small farm school. When that yielded a mayor and two junior international athletes from 65 pupils, we knew we could dream. Human beings belong in space, and not just doggy-paddling around the earth.

This year, our students will hear the wisdom of five professors, they’ll know the stories of racing’s great achievers, they’ll be taught all the lessons of the text book world. But they’ll also learn about life and about leadership, and the lessons of the street. They’ll be reminded that good people don’t need management, they need inspiring. That an essential ingredient of good leadership is authenticity. True authenticity, doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader, but you can’t be a good leader for very long without it.

These days, you can learn much about genes without leaving your living room. Horse racing abounds with tomes on stallions, “nicks”, inbreeding, dosages and the laws of Mendel, the pea-growing monk. But there are not many lessons on how to run a good stud farm. Good horsemen tend to put type ahead of pedigree, good legs ahead of good families. You can learn a little only by leaving your living room and looking at flesh and blood, at soils and the environment, and how to motivate people and manage your money. You’ll also learn with us, that we teach history the wrong way around. The first thing we should learn as a child is that we’re all part of the same human race. The last thing we should learn is that we’re South African, Protestant or of a particular racial ancestry.

Besides, just recently one of the world’s leading voices on global economic opinion, The Economist carried a foreboding headline on its cover, “Be Afraid”. While that might apply to those parts of the planet which are struggling to come to terms with their own decline, we belong to another world, stepping into a future of momentous change and opportunity. The challenge for our young people is to graduate from their schools, colleges and universities, to go forth to new lands of conquest, to dare themselves and our society to see a new and a better life. Every generation wants to believe theirs is the best of times and the worst of times. Our young people should live boldly. They have nothing to fear, but fear itself. Igugu has twice shown us that in a matter of a year.

School Of Management Excellence, South Africa
School Of Management Excellence, South Africa

Heather Morkel +27 (0) 33 263 1081

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