Posted on February 28, 2020
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, Professor Tawana Kupe, took part in a live interview in partnership with LinkedIn on Friday, 21 February 2020. The interview was one of the first of its kind to be aired by LinkedIn, and the University of Pretoria was honoured to be the first tertiary institution in Africa to be given the opportunity to feature on LinkedIn Live for a live and interactive discussion. Stewart Samkange of LinkedIn Talent Solutions Africa conducted the interview and focused on a range of topics including careers, disruption and academia.
One of the main issues highlighted in the interview was the role and importance of digital platforms for information and how, unfortunately, they are not being used enough to tell African stories. When asked what the African story is and what we are not telling as a continent, Prof Kupe spoke about how there are more negative than positive images of Africa perpetuated on digital platforms. Despite the almost infinite capacity of digital platforms, there are not enough African success stories on them. He said this is why he personally makes use of LinkedIn, for instance, as a medium to inspire the youth with the possibilities in Africa and to show them that they too can aspire to be vice-chancellors and academics.
Responding to a question from a LinkedIn user, the Vice-Chancellor emphasised the importance of reform in the way universities educate students. In practice, “a three-year degree cannot keep up with all the changes that can happen suddenly and this is where partnerships with real workplaces are made; so more learnerships, more internships, more immersion of students during their degree because they can go to work environments where they can see things changing in real time,” Prof Kupe said.
Asked about what he thought the most important trait in a leader is, he highlighted empathy and the ability to “look at situations from another person’s perspective”.
“To be a good leader, I must think, ‘When I lead the institution, how does it look to that person and what will it enable them to deliver to the larger vision of the University?’ You should not think about it from just your own perspective.”
They also discussed issues around Africa’s youthful population and the role the youth can play in developing the continent, the importance of education and research, relearning and other interesting topics such as Professor Kupe’s vast book collection. Watch the full interview here.
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