SA drummer awarded Henley MBA Dean’s scholarship

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Barry van Zyl, drummer for the Johnny Clegg band and Jon Foster-Pedley, dean of Henley Business School Africa
Barry van Zyl, drummer for the Johnny Clegg band and Jon Foster-Pedley, dean of Henley Business School Africa

The Henley Business School Dean’s Music and Creative MBA scholarship has been awarded to Barry van Zyl.

Van Zyl has been the drummer for the Johnny Clegg band for the past 16 years and has toured extensively worldwide. He has worked with the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Carlos Santana, Annie Lennox, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Peter Gabriel, Soweto Gospel Choir, the Hothouse Flowers and the London Chamber Orchestra. He has lectured at Wits, Drumtech (London), CT University, University of KZN, SAE and Pretoria Technikon. His percussion scores can be heard on feature films like Tstotsi, Zambezia and Khumba.

Jon Foster-Pedley, dean of Henley Business School, said the scholarship covers the full MBA course and includes workshops with a select group of individuals focusing on developing their creative and innovative capabilities. The programme develops and grows the skills for creative and music industry leaders as well as business innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Marketing and business understanding have become the backbone of a successful career in the arts, but most creative undergraduate degrees are still craft-focused and exclude business modules. Creatives are left to figure out the business side on their own,” said Foster-Pedley.

Van Zyl has a vision for the SA music industry: “Countries like France, Canada and Australia have developed programmes to nurture talent by providing mentorship, resources and study opportunities. These countries value creatives and their impact on the economy. But SA lacks these initiatives,” he said.

“South Africa has natural talent in abundance. Mostly this is not nurtured or developed in a structured way. As opposed, for example, to our rugby or soccer feeder systems aimed at identifying talent and developing players into world-class sportsmen. These programmes are sophisticated, controlled and well-funded. The same model needs to be employed in the music industry,” he said.

Van Zyl believes that a focused initiative to develop talent, kick start live performance and tour viability in Southern Africa, and ‘export’ developed talent using networks and collaborations would greatly increase job opportunity, expertise and career success.

He said: “It would also be hugely positive for all South Africans, in or out of the music industry, much in the way a success by the Springboks or Bafana Bafana makes everyone feel about their unique South African’ness.”

Foster-Pedley said that creativity in business is integral to the future growth of SA managers. “But most businesses remain reluctant to be creative for fear of failure. But for those who do, the potential exists to create business growth and enhance employee satisfaction and retention.”

“There is a change in the business world. Creativity is being used not only in marketing but also for addressing business challenges. New creative ways of working are being implemented and encouraged.”

“With the Creative MBA we encourage students to think outside the box compared to traditional management styles. We find that allowing staff to be creative, even in the small areas of their responsibility, increases productivity, affects the company’s bottom line and can also provide a competitive advantage,” said Foster-Pedley.

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