Mr. SEKGOBELA Mogale Denny
“I would like to contribute globally to make this world more sustainable.”
We interviewed Mr. Sekgobela, who came to Japan from South Africa under JICA's long-term training program, who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) course in Global Leadership Programme (GLP) at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business (NUCB), Nagoya. Mr. Sekgobela is studying business administration to expand his career as a professional engineer. He has a grand and wonderful vision for his future, not only as an engineer, but also as an internationally active professional who will make the world a better place. (Interviewers: New JICA staff)
○Please give us a brief self-introduction.
My name is SEKGOBELA Mogale Denny. SEKGOBELA is my family name, Denny is my English name, and Mogale is my native name, meaning "warrior". There are 11 official languages in South Africa, and you can tell which language group one belongs to by looking at the names.
○What did you study and what kind of work did you do in South Africa?
I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. After receiving my degree, I worked for 11 years at Eskom, a major electrical power producer company in South Africa, as an engineer in the Transmission division. While working, I started postgraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering with focus on Physical Asset Management. I gained an interest in this field because I wanted to understand the techniques applied in optimizing the existing network equipment.
○Why did you decide to participate in JICA's long-term training program?
Through an invitation from my employer, I recognized that I could study in Japan through the JICA program. This was, in fact, my first encounter with JICA. I took this opportunity to deepen my knowledge and expand my career on an international platform. I am a "grab it if there is a chance" kind of person, and I did not want to miss this opportunity. I looked into other scholarship programs, but the JICA program stood out for me.
○What are you studying in Japan?
I am studying a Master of Business Administration (MBA) course with focus on Global Leadership at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business (NUCB), in Nagoya.
○Is there anything you would like to do during your stay in Japan?
I would like to learn the Japanese way of conducting business, not only through academic theory, but also through practice by participating in internships. Practice does not always follow theory. In theory, everything works well, but in practice, it doesn't work that way. Hence, I would like to review theoretical principles learned through practice.
○How do you wish to utilize what you have learned through the MBA program in your country?
I am a JICA scholar here, but at the same time, an employee in my home country. I am always asking myself the very same question, “What can I give back to my company and country”? I believe that I can utilize the knowledge gained in the areas of education and business. While we have no choice of classes to take when you enroll in a postgraduate study program in my country, here in Japan, students can choose classes based on their own area of interest in addition to the mandatory core courses, which is very flexible and interesting. South Africa can look into creating an education system where students can customize their courses based on what interest them. Of course, this must be regulated.
On the business side, I am very interested in the relationship between business strategy and governance. Japanese family businesses for instance, do not place too much emphasis on governance, but I believe that there are many benefits to adopting governance in business. This is because business decisions should not be made from an emotional point of view, but from a more governance-oriented, rational point of view.
I worked for a parastatal company for 11 years and never had a chance to think about business strategy because I was focused on technical matters. However, when I came to Japan, I started to learn about ways of doing business, including family business and larger organization. I find it a very interesting field. I would like to give back this knowledge in my home country.
○Do you have any dreams for your life?
I would like to become a champion for sustainable development, not only in South Africa but globally in order to make this world a better place. I want to contribute to both local and global economic growth by providing sustainable means of access to facilities for the previously disadvantaged groups. There is a phrase that I hold dear to my heart which says, "Be the change you want to see." I always hope to be the driving force of the change I want to see in the world.
○What do you like about South Africa?
South Africa is a wonderful country and I love it. It is full of diversity, beautiful nature, and delicious food, especially shisa nyama (barbecue), which is normally 200 or 400 grams of grilled meat. I love Japanese yakiniku (barbecue) style, but South African barbecue is on another level!
○What are your impressions of Japan?
I love the architecture and nature. Some Japanese architecture has a long history, and some have been renovated to maintain this history while adopting modern innovation was impressed by the autumn landscape with attractive colorful autumn leaves.
Communication style of Japanese people is structured and conservative. I am the type of person who is open to people around me, but I feel many Japanese people are less expressive and that creates a gap. Japan’s culture is completely different to many parts of the world but still, the differences are interesting. Different cultures and people can make you see the world differently and have different ways of thinking. So, I respect different ideas, beliefs, and cultures, and I believe that being exposed to such diversity will surely help one grow.
Mr. Sekgobela is a bright man with very deep knowledge. While he has built a career as an engineer, he has also developed an interest in the global economy and has broadened and deepened his knowledge. His attitude of not limiting his activities to his field of expertise and finding the best way to improve the world made us to think that we can do a lot as individuals, not only as members of the organization we belong to. We feel very fortunate that Mr. Sekgobela, who has a great potential to become a world leader, is studying in Japan and hopefully becoming a fan of Japan. This interview also made us feel the significance of the long-term training program, which can invite leaders from around the world to Japan.