2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Dewald Potgieter, Warwick Business School

Dewald Potgieter

Warwick Business School

A learner, leader and value-seeker; pursuing opportunities to elevate the lives of my fellow South Africans.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Pretoria, South Africa

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an admittedly pedestrian guitar player, but I still I fantasize about being in a rock band and playing ridiculous guitar solos on stage to the adoration of the masses.

Undergraduate School and Degree: On account of being drafted to a professional sporting setup straight out of high school, I (rather ill-advisedly) never undertook an undergraduate degree.

Where are you currently working? I’m an entrepreneur and founder of numerous small businesses across the agriculture and energy industries and associated service sectors.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It seems like a distant universe, but I represented South Africa as professional rugby player in 2009 and  2010. No matter the domain, it’s quite gratifying to step onto an international stage and go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. My rugby career ultimately spanned 13 years from 2006 to 2018, right up until I enrolled at WBS.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Since I didn’t have an undergrad degree, I felt that I needed to try for enrolment at a prestigious school with an unquestionable pedigree. At the time, WBS’s distance learning program was ranked number 1 in the world by the Financial Times. I happened to be in the UK, so I was able to do additional interviews and pitch myself to the decision-makers in person.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? It rewards self- discipline. Since I didn’t have any undergrad experience, the simple ability to access content and live recordings at will allowed me to master the concepts at my own pace.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? Although you have a significant degree of freedom to explore specific topics in more detail, a well-designed online program still leads you through the critical path of understanding the subject matter. I expected to be more sidetracked than I was.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I wish I had an in-the-classroom experience to be able to compare. The online experience seems like it would be more enabling. You can literally shut out the noise, if need be, and you mitigate the risk of missing out on moments of learning.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Engage with the course work and the associated literature sincerely. You might be enticed to meet only minimum requirements as the inevitable existential pressures grab a hold of you, but you owe it to yourself to suitably immerse, especially come dissertation time.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I wouldn’t necessarily change anything about the program. As a business school, I’d focus more intently on connecting alumni and facilitating more real world experience (even more hands-on case studies) through my available network during the program.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? An MBA is a degree in conciseness of thought. In my case, the period of lockdown due to Covid-19 (as unfortunate as its circumstances may be) offered me time to think, and with a fresh MBA I actually came up with three distinct business ideas, all three of which I’ve since operationalised with success.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: Typically around 15.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’m passionate about giving back in the realm of sport. There is a major shortage of good role models and basic opportunities in terms of self-improvement, career transitions, and financial planning and security, at least in South Africa. I am working on a private equity model that facilitates all of the above through exposure to networks, associated skill training and longer view wealth creation. Through my experience, I want to build the quintessential incubation chamber for sportspeople ahead of career transition.


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