In last month’s Newsletter I wrote about meeting leaders of organizations who come from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds, for example science, engineering, public administration, healthcare, or economics. Having been trained in these disciplines management education may not be on their radar screens; yet good management skills are needed in order for the hospitals and other organizations which they run to function effectively. It is often necessary to build cross-cultural bridges in order to get these leaders to appreciate that “management matters” and therefore that relevant management education can improve their outcomes.
Today I am extremely pleased to announce that another such a “cross-cultural bridge” has been built, one that my heart is especially set on: GBSN’s new initiative designed to enhance leadership and management skills of wildlife conservancies.
Last year I visited Kenya’s Lewa Conservancy (www.lewa.org), a model of its kind and a World Heritage site. Formerly a huge cattle ranch, its owners, starting in the early 1990s converted the land into a wildlife conservancy. Its main purpose was to grow the black rhino and Grevy zebra populations, which were nearing extinction. A quarter of a century later the rhino population has grown to the point where some need to be transported to other areas, as the maximum carrying capacity has been reached.I sat down with Lewa’s CEO and the Chair of Lewa’s Kenya Board, and we discussed management skills. In their opinion, enhanced leadership and management skills would improve the outcomes of conservancies, among others: less poaching, more environmentally sound tourism revenues, better relations with local communities, improved government relations, as well as more effective fundraising. Back in Nairobi I discovered to my surprise that, as far as I could tell, no tailor-made leadership and management programs for wildlife conservancies were being offered by African business schools.
And so, GBSN set to work. About a year later, in early May of this year, stakeholders from academia, conservancies, foundations, business and government convened in Nairobi for a high-level roundtable to address the management and leadership skills gaps in the wildlife conservation sector. GBSN, Strathmore Business School (Kenya) and University of Stellenbosch Business School (South Africa) hosted the event. We proposed a pilot educational program to strengthen the leadership and enterprise management skills of African wildlife conservation professionals through a world-class international, practical, skills-based program. Our goal is to roll the program out by the end of the year. The pilot will be the first building block of a platform, which GBSN can adapt and deploy through member schools or partners to serve the needs of wildlife conservancies anywhere in Africa or on other continents.
Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network