Alumnus profile: Dr Mgwebi Msiya

Posted on August 17, 2020

“The universe is full of diverse opinions and ideas and it is always important to be open to such divergences. Studying for a PhD has taught me the significance of embracing and understanding that scholars will always view each concept from different perspectives to mine, so I must always respect such diversity of ideas,” says Dr Mgwebi Msiya, Eastern Cape Liquor Board spokesperson. Along with 15 other candidates, he was awarded his PhD at the virtual graduation ceremony on 15 April and is all set to contribute substantially to the research needs of his organisation. Read more about his PhD, his career and future plans below.
Q: What was the topic of your PhD thesis and why did you specifically select it?
A: The topic for my PhD was ‘Investigating the corporate reputation of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government’. My selection of this topic was largely triggered by an interest in gaining deep insight into how the Eastern Cape Provincial Government strategically manages its corporate reputation in view of the copious negative perceptions that exist in the public discourse about the Provincial Government. Furthermore, seeing that the Provincial Government was marshalling relatively huge proportions of resources towards communication, it was of interest to me to gain an understanding of whether or not such resources contributed to the strengthening of the Provincial Government’s corporate reputation. More importantly, I anticipated that this topic would enable me to contribute into discovering how the Provincial Government could better manage its corporate reputation.
Q: In your opinion, to what extent does a PhD ensure/boost business/career success?
A: This PhD has empowered me with specialist knowledge and skills in the area of communication management, which has enabled me to be more innovative and to develop new ways of executing my work. I have also gained much needed experience in critical thinking, analytical skills, research skills and problem solving, which are invariably essential in driving growth and development, both within my workplace and society at large.
Q: Are you happy with the way your career has evolved?
A: I am generally happy with how my career has evolved. However, with the recent achievement of this PhD, I have realised that there are more potential career opportunities one can pursue. I am empowered to look much farther and contribute even more substantially to society in many ways. I have also developed an enviable interest in research and would like to contribute more to the development of scholarship/research so I can meaningfully influence the policy direction in our country.
Q:  What are the most compelling/rewarding aspects of your current job?
A: The most rewarding aspect of my current job is that my organisation places more importance on research and innovation and with the attainment of this PhD one is poised to contribute substantially to the research needs of the organisation.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?  
A: I must first state that I am eternally grateful to have done my PhD with the University of Pretoria, which is one of the most reputable academic institutions in Africa and the world. My studying at UP enriched me with extensive knowledge and skills on how to enhance my current career and effectively empowered me with more competitive skills. I am currently ready and determined to explore other potential career paths.
Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt from your studies/lecturers at the University of Pretoria?
A:  I must say that I had a wonderful and a caring supervisor from whom I learnt so much. Dr Estelle de Beer empowered me with advanced research skills and I remain indebted to her for the support she gave me during the long and tedious journey of my PhD. That said, the most important lessons I learnt from studies at the University of Pretoria include perseverance, resilience and endurance. I realised that with determination you can achieve everything in life, and this I realised after I spent many sleepless nights in pursuit of the deadlines for submissions.
Q: What is your “golden guideline” in life, in other words what keeps you on track?
A: My golden guideline is: “Have an open mind.” I believe that if you don't have an open mind, which means you stand firmly in your beliefs and ideas and oppose others who think otherwise, you will feel extremely agitated and uncomfortable when confronted by people with different beliefs and ideas. The universe is full of diverse opinions and ideas and it is always important to be open to such divergences, and studying for the PhD has taught me the significance of embracing an understanding that scholars will always view each concept from different perspectives to mine and I must always respect such diversity of ideas.
Q: Going forward, what are your career and personal goals?
A: My career goal is to join academia so I can access an opportunity to join a research community and become a fully-fledged researcher. I would appreciate an opportunity to extensively contribute to scholarship.  
Q: How is the SA economy, and business in general, likely to be reshaped post COVID-19?
A: With the declaration of the lockdown in the country, the economy was brought to its knees with many businesses having stopped the economic activities and this has inevitably resulted in the loss of many jobs in a country that was already facing decline in employment ratings. There is absolutely no doubt that post the COVID-19, the economy will continue to experience excessive decline, shedding many jobs, which in turn will result in an unprecedented economic recession. The biggest risk is if the country experiences a prolonged economic shutdown. In my view, this will adversely impact the stimulus packages that government and the financial markets have announced to stimulate the economy.
There is also likely to be myriad cases of corruption that will further negatively impact government’s endeavour to alleviate the scourge of COVID-19, and I agree with many commentators that we are most likely to see a COVID-19 Commission of Inquiry post this pandemic. Furthermore, the recent S&P Global Ratings, which have lowered South Africa's sovereign credit rating to below investment grade, or junk, is ‘rubbing salt into the wound’ of the country's already struggling economy. In a nutshell, the economy after COVID-19 will take many years to recover, and government must act swiftly to realign/review the macroeconomic policies in order to offset the challenging times that are set to damage the economy.
- Author Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Published by Liesl Oosthuizen

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