To be part of a system that ensures access to quality education for all, is alumna Dr Cila Myburgh’s fervent wish. “Living in a country of extreme inequality in terms of access to quality education – from young to old – makes this goal very real for me and personally drives me to wanting to be part of a solution working towards inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.” Read more about her career, her advice for current students and other interests.
Q: Briefly summarise your career since graduating from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: I joined the UP family in 1999 as a first-year student studying BCom Human Resource Management, followed by my honours in 2002 and a master’s degree in 2003-2004.
Since 2002, I was working and studying, first as a psychometrist, and later as an industrial psychologist (2005), offering different psychometric testing services to clients across the country and consulting on HR-related matters. I was always very interested in psychometrics, and during this time, I developed an affinity for learning potential assessments.
In 2007, I started working at the University of Pretoria as the Enrolment Manager primarily responsible for applications and admissions. Over the years, my portfolio grew and currently I am the Director of Enrolment and Student Administration at the University of Pretoria. The portfolio covers the full student life cycle: from applications through to graduations and career services.
I am currently also serving on advisory committees for the national Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, and was also appointed by the Minister of Basic Education as a council member for Umalusi and chairperson of two national council committees.
In 2019, I graduated with a PhD from the Department of Human Resource Management at UP and has since been involved in both lecturing and supervising master’s students, focusing on the future world of work as part of the Strategic Human Resource Management module.
On a personal level, I am married to an incredible man, and I am mother of two wonderful boys.
Q: To what extent did your studies at EMS benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: I believe it’s one of the best study options available to obtain an undergraduate degree in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. The access and exposure to a variety of modules such as Economics, Business Management, Informatics, even Statistics in the general curriculum, give students an excellent background and basic knowledge to enter the workplace for almost any career.
On a postgraduate level, specialisation modules such as Organisational Development, Labour Relations, Managing Diversity, Change Dynamics, and Organisational Behaviour offered in my master’s degree, proved invaluable in terms of my career. This helped me to understand how organisations and people function within organisations as well as relevant legal frameworks. This background helped me to adapt, grow and develop in my career to where I am today.
I love working in higher education, and I can safely say that my educational background helped – and continues to help – me greatly in matters related to my work and what I envision for myself in future.
Q: Given your academic career at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: Students starting with a qualification don’t always understand why they have to take modules not relevant to their degrees. However, learning to deal with the “things I don’t like” is critical in achieving long-term success. By obtaining a qualification, you proved that you are able to contextualise “things you don’t like” in the bigger scheme of things, and in my opinion, this becomes an unaccounted for benefit of studying that changes the way we think. It means that in addition to commitment and hard work, students also learn that tolerance and sacrifice are important to achieve success.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful career?
A: Besides what I mentioned above, I would say that the strongest element in the foundation of a successful career would be a career goal or “wanting to become”. Albeit sometimes very difficult to define, with many people suffering from not knowing what they want to do with their lives, it has been shown over and over again that a strong will to achieve a goal is the driving force behind success. Focusing on a goal changes one’s perspective of challenges and problems experienced along the way into opportunities, as opposed to threats. You then have a chance to innovate, reinvent and recreate yourself in order to still achieve your goals.
When you experience troubles and difficulties, try looking at the situation from different perspectives. Try to think of how you want your success memoir to be written while you are in the process of achieving your dreams. Don’t burn bridges, instead build relationships, and always keep on learning about work, people and life. You need to remain grounded so that you keep your focus on what you want to achieve while staying true to yourself.
Q: Which publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?
A: I enjoy current affairs and try to stay up to date with news around the world. I really enjoy reading the Harvard Business Review, as they incorporate relevant scientific research in their articles that can be applied to the work environment.
With online platforms such as LinkedIn, access to information is easily managed and you can follow specific themes, groups or organisations. Your daily check of your online wall will give you a good overview of matters that interest you.
Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?
A: I would say that I am inspired and motivated by being of service to others. I want to help others reach their goals. I believe in potential rather than actual skills, and I want to create opportunities for others to believe in their own potential to achieve success.
Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?
A: I would want to meet António Guterres, the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations. Apart from learning from his wealth of experience, I would want the opportunity to convince him to appoint me as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Project office. Not enough attention is given to the SDG’s and if I could make a difference in the world, I would want to do it through Goal 4, namely to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Q: What are your personal/career goals?
A: My dream is to be part of a system that ensures access to quality education for all. Living in a country of extreme inequality in terms of access to quality education from young to old, makes this goal very real for me and personally drives me towards wanting to be part of a solution working towards inclusive equitable quality education for all.
Q: Your dream, from a socio-economic perspective, for South Africa?
A: That we can start building up the country step by step, firstly through ensuring that all South African children have access to basic education taught in a language they understand. Children must be protected and be safe in and around their schools, and they should be given healthy and nutritious meals as many of them will only have this one meal a day.
From basic education, we should develop a differentiated secondary education system that offers development and learning opportunities for all and result in an inclusive higher and further education and training sector that will, in turn, fundamentally change the South African landscape.