Dr Catherine Duggan has been appointed as the director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB). Photo: Supplied
Dr Catherine Duggan has been appointed as the director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB). Photo: Supplied

University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business appoints a new Director

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 6, 2020

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DURBAN - Dr Catherine Duggan has been appointed as the director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB).

Dr Duggan takes the helm at a time when Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges and as all UCT GSB programmes are being delivered online in accordance with UCT's Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) protocol.

“Business leaders in Africa are among the most effective I’ve seen anywhere in the world. They are flexible and innovative and have an excellent sense of how to approach a new problem – and Covid-19 is no different,” said Duggan.

According to Duggan, by extension, the UCT GSB is well positioned, perhaps uniquely so, to lead the world into the post-pandemic era.

She said, “Now more than ever, business schools will need to be able to teach people to lead through risk and uncertainty, as well as to manage complex challenges and macroeconomic volatility. They must demonstrate creativity and agility in the face of change and be able to help people reframe and analyse previously unknown problems and communicate their findings in ways that are maximally effective. With its proud history of rigorous research and innovative teaching, the UCT GSB is ready to help business leaders do exactly that”.

That’s why she wants the school to seize the opportunity to lead on the continent and around the world. “We need to be driving global conversations on the most significant challenges facing business – not just about Covid-19, but what comes after that. We can be instrumental in crafting a future that is more inclusive and accessible to all, that supports entrepreneurship, promotes innovation to drive economic development, and brings the private and public domains together to build the kind of future we would like to see for ourselves and our children.”

Dr Duggan is a former faculty member at Harvard Business School, where she taught on political economy and leadership for nearly a decade, she has spent the last 20 years working in Africa in a wide variety of countries ranging from the continent’s largest markets.

For the last four years, she has been the vice dean for strategy and research at the African Leadership University Business School (ALUSB) in Rwanda.

In Africa, she says that she has consistently found approaches that help her – and the students and executives she teaches – to make sense of otherwise formidable new environments.

She believes that remote learning will be another a key factor in the wake of the pandemic and one of her explicit ambitions as director of the UCT GSB will be to ensure the school expands its use of technology to enhance the scope, reach, and flexibility of its offerings.

Again, Dr Duggan has extensive experience in this regard. She has designed and rolled out online and blended MBA and executive education programmes at the ALUSB, but she personally has been teaching online classes.

Her personal love of teaching – of communicating actionable insights – shines through these initiatives. While she did her doctorate in political science, she “fell in love” with business education.

She said, “One of the most important things we can do as a business school is to use rigorous scholarly inquiry and holistic approaches to make sense of the world".

“We need to be drawing out the lessons of top-notch research and making these relevant and compelling to people in business, by showing them opportunities, challenges, and risks they would otherwise have missed,” added Duggan.

Through the work of the business school, she is excited at the prospect of creating an “analytical mirror” to help firms, managers and entrepreneurs on the continent understand what they are doing well – and how they can do it better – as well as to share that knowledge more widely.

“In essence, we want to understand business in Africa on African terms, not simply by using frameworks that were created in the US and Europe, which tend to broadly ignore the exciting innovations, tremendous opportunities, and significant challenges that we see on this continent,” concluded Duggan.


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