Meet Phumlani, a Spirit Foundation Alumnus who matriculated from Camps Bay High School in 2010. Phumlani recently graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of the Western Cape. He is also actively involved in the Spirit Foundation Alumni Society through volunteering his time and input as a mentor to our Spirit Foundation Scholars. We asked Phumlani a few questions about his course and any advice he has to offer to young people interested in studying Business Administration, as well as for any encouragement for scholars facing similar challenges to those that he faced as a scholar and student.
Tell us about Business Administration and what it’s all about
I studied Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). It is a three year course – I started in 2013 and finished in 2015. The multidisciplinary nature of this degree prepares you for work in many areas of business and is an excellent foundation for careers in commerce, marketing, human resources and financial management.
The qualification is broad and comprehensive. It provides you with a sound understanding and skills in administering and managing a business in any sector. You will cover core modules such as Business Management, Economics, Project Management, Business Ethics, Business Law and Financial Management. You also cover subject areas such as Business English and Computer Skills, as well as a choice of specialist elective groups with major subjects. Because of our degree’s unique emphasis on application, you will select, conduct and present a research project and complete Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in your third year.
The success of our Bachelor of Business Administration lies in its flexibility of subject choice, a curriculum that is relevant and ahead of trends, our Technology Enhance Learning (TEL) environment and a teaching staff with both business and academic experience. By introducing you to research, we are also preparing you for honours studies, a unique offering in undergraduate degrees. This blended approach ensures that you graduate with essential work skills such as critical thinking, being innovative and adaptable to change, effective problem solving, working to deadlines, collaborating in team situations and communicating effectively.
I enjoyed the fact that it’s a dynamic course that covers all aspects of a business, therefore the subjects are quite interesting as you learn different angels from financial aspects within a business to its operation processes. When you graduate you become equipped with knowledge from various departments within a business, for instance you can relate to marketing practices, human relations and management as a concept within the business environment.
What did you find to be most challenging about the course?
The course is demanding in terms of time management and requires great devotion and dedication. A student is required to work simultaneously – your assignment is due, there is a test coming and your group work is also on the waiting list… therefore hard work is a must. There is a lot of group work, therefore team work skills are required and often group dynamics can become an obstacle between group performances.
What advice would you give to those interested in studying Business Administration?
The course is good for someone looking to enter into the business world. Before you apply I would advise that you are well prepared and organized – punctuality is the key. Remember what you put in is what you get out and that is the reality of varsity, particularly in the field I studied. This means that when doing group work you are often marked individually so beware on relying on others.
What are some of your memories of your days as a Spirit Foundation Scholar?
The Spirit Foundation was there at the end of each semester to reflect on the term this also allowed me to express my challenges and how I could push for good marks. As a result I give credit to them for the admission into varsity that I received when I graduated 2010. Camps were also memorable as they not only taught us to bond but to share our experiences at high school as well as feeding off each other for success.
What were some of the challenges you faced while at school?
Community support was one of the greatest challenges because back in my high school years I remember that neighbours and shebeens were booming at music top volume and it was difficult to study as one was unable to file a complaint. Travelling to high school was a challenge.. MyCiTi was not viable yet therefore extra mural activities were tricky as it was a challange to get home after practice or a match and I was well known and heavily involved in sports, particularly soccer.
What were some of the challenges you faced at university that those about to enter university-life should be aware of?
Finding accommodation is a major challenge as it is essential for a student to be as close to campus as possible. Being independent and having to deal with your own responsibilities and actions as a student is essential. Finding and balancing time for everything is a challenge – cooking, studying, sleeping time, distinguishing between free time and rest days… Time management was my greatest challenge.
While I was lucky to receive funding for my tuition fees, finances were still a challenge because food is getting expensive and my allocated monthly budget didn’t cover everything like food, entertainment and transport.
Crime was also a major challenge within the independent residence I was staying at, therefore personal belongings were at risk to and from campus. A solution is to stay as near to campus as possible if you can.
What impact do you feel you are making in your community?
I inspire hope and motivation for high school student within my community and I believe that by graduating I am opening up opportunities for others to apply for varsity. I am also at service to those studying or are about to enter the world of tertiary studies – to know what to expect and to offer my experiences of varsity and life as a student.
I use the recognition and acknowledgement gained for my achievements to inspire and motivate my peers and the community, not only to study further but to achieve their dreams. I would like to see the number of varsity students within my community and amongst peers increase through the inspiration of graduates within my community, including myself.
What is your encouragement to those still in school?
The dedication, hard work and effort you put in towards your studies is the driving force towards your success – it basically means what you put in is what you get out.. from high school, to varsity and in life. To all the Spirit Foundation Scholars, I wish you all the best and remember to always persevere.
We are so proud of Phumlani’s achievements and the amazing inspiration and role model he is to so many around him and are honoured to be a part of his journey.
Phumlani at his Graduation Ceremony in March 2016.