Baets, UCT business school head, leads Africa association

Director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB), Walter Baets, has been elected as the next chairperson of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS).

AABS is a network of African business schools, formally established in October 2005 and registered as a non-profit organisation in September 2007.

Through capacity building, collaboration, and quality improvement programmes for deans or directors and faculty from African Business Schools, it aims to help build effective business schools in order to improve management education in Africa and thus enhance the relevance and contribution of business schools to African development.

Baets, who says he is looking forward to his tenure, takes up the position on 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2015. “It’s good for the GSB to be able to play a more active role in this fine association. Traditionally, the GSB has had more collaborations with U.S and U.K business schools, so the AABS allows us to build more relationships with other African schools – something which I believe, in the spirit of creating African management for Africa, is very important,” he said.

Baets believes that African business schools need to develop their own identity if they are to respond appropriately to Africa-specific business and management challenges, something which, in his position as chairperson, he hopes to have the opportunity to investigate.

“In order for business leadership on the continent to move forward, business schools cannot merely adopt prescribed ways of doing things. Through AABS, African schools are able to encourage better co-operation in the African context, enrich discussions, see what has worked for other schools, and generally improve the quality of business schools in Africa. All the while defining and hopefully adopting an African identity for education in business management,” he said.

One of the ways AABS performs its duties is through the annual AABS Connect, a conference for business schools and business leaders across the continent, which was successfully hosted at the GSB in 2011.

“The conference provides an opportunity for the expression of members’ views and interests and an opportunity for thought leaders in management education to create a discourse around what type of programmes would be beneficial in the African context,” said Baets.

During his time at the helm Baets would specifically like to address the lack of locally trained academics, and encourage the further development of social innovation programmes.

“Between the 30 plus African schools registered with AABS, we have a real opportunity to dissect the challenges facing the continent, and work together to ensure that the next generation of African business leaders is fully prepared to create sustainable solutions for the continent’s needs. I hope to raise the bar for expectations of an African business school,” he said.

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