Inspired by people who dedicate their time and effort to make the world a better place, Dr Stephen Moyo, who earlier this year obtained his PhD at UP, is motivated by his own potential to contribute towards finding solutions for improving and bringing a positive change in the lives of communities in his home country, Zimbabwe. With regard to the latter, he would dearly like to meet with the SA business leader and mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe, to discuss potential solutions for changing the lives of communities in Africa. Among other things, read more about his illustrious career, his favourite reading matter and future goals.
Q: Briefly summarise your studies and your professional career, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: I am currently employed as a Central Bank Principal Economist in the Research and Policy Department in Zimbabwe.
Having grown up in Barbourfields Township, a poor neighbourhood in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, I never imagined that one day I would work at the Central Bank or even earn a PhD from the University of Pretoria!
My mother deserves full credit for the success of my career as she would always push me to work hard in my studies. At the time when I was doing my undergraduate studies, I would buy audio cassettes and compact discs (CDs) from a record company and resell them to students at the university to finance my studies.
I acquired a BSc in Applied Mathematics from the National University of Science and Technology, NUST, in Zimbabwe, and subsequently studied for a Master’s degree in Operations research and statistics from the same university. Upon completing my master’s degree, I joined the Applied Mathematics department as a lecturer.
I subsequently switched from my lecturing position and joined the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in its Research Department.
The pursuit of the PhD dream was always in my plans. When I was accepted to study for a PhD at the University of Pretoria, I received the inaugural PhD bursary scholarship for Reserve Bank officials from the Zimbabwe Economic and Policy Analysis Research Unit (ZEPARU) to study in South Africa. Without the four year ZEPARU bursary support and support from the Central Bank, I simply would not have managed to pursue my PhD dream.
During my first year, I had to endure a tough schedule where I had to balance family, work and the extremely demanding PhD work commitments. I would regularly shuttle between Harare and Pretoria, especially over weekends to also occasionally check on my frail mother, who I had taken to India for a lifesaving procedure just after I had started my PhD programme. Somehow I managed to persevere…
The PhD programme in Economics equipped me with invaluable cutting-edge research and analytical skills that are very useful for my work at the Central Bank. The exposure of PhD students to departmental seminars, national, regional and international conferences is extremely valuable as it assists them to be accustomed to the rigours of academic debates and to obtain insightful comments on improving the quality of research papers in addition to building networks.
In hindsight, I am extremely grateful for the rare opportunity I was afforded to study at the University of Pretoria and highly recommend prospective PhD students who are keen to pursue studies in Economics to choose UP.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: The UP PhD programme equipped me with cutting-edge tools that are very useful for my research and economic modelling duties at the Central Bank. The PhD studies trained me on endurance, discipline, commitment, advanced problem conceptualisation and solving, academic report writing, communicating research results and an appreciation for the rigours of academic debates, all of which are important requirements for success in academic and policy research.
Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: Key to academic success at UP are hard work, discipline, creativity, originality, patience, endurance and following the guidance of academic supervisor(s). Without hard work, it can be extremely difficult for a student to remain in the system at Tukkies. I marvel at the diversity of students and staff at the University of Pretoria, and I am proud to be associated with lecturers in the Department of Economics who are renowned authors of research papers that are published in high-impact academic journals.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful business/company/consultancy/organisation?
A: Dedication to attaining goals, in-depth planning, consistency and customer satisfaction are fundamental to the success of any company or organisation.
Q: Which business/trade-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc) do you enjoy reading?
A: I enjoy reading the Harvard Business Review, The Economist and business start-up blogs.
Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?
A: I am inspired by people who dedicate their time and effort to make the world a better place. I am motivated by the potential that I have to contribute towards finding solutions for improving and bringing a positive change in the lives of communities.
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 like to meet Patrice Motsepe to discuss business and solutions for changing the lives of communities in Africa.
Q: Going forward, what are your professional/business/personal goals?
A: To be a rated researcher and to venture into business in different sectors of the economy.
Q: Lastly, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. In your opinion, to what extent is the pandemic likely to impact globalisation/international trade?
A: COVID-19 negatively affected globalisation and international trade significantly, leading to a new normal. The new normal, however, has created new opportunities that have not been previously exploited.