On Friday 31 August, a function was held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Programme in Project Management (PPM) – a continuing education course to develop practical project managers. A number of clients that regularly send their employees on the course, and several other stakeholders attended.
The course is a joint venture between the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM), University of Pretoria and Enterprises University of Pretoria. These two organizational units also celebrated the two decades of successfully collaborating on the course.
After welcoming drinks and starters, the Programme Manager Ms Bontle More, introduced Prof Birgit Kuschke, one of the lecturers who has been teaching this course since 1997. Prof Kuschke gave a historic overview of the programme: 20 years, 154 intakes and more than 7000 students/delegates. She acknowledged the lecturers as seasoned practitioners with sound academic credentials. She also explained the role that the PPM played in the establishment of the Masters’ in Project Management (MPM) at the University and how the MPM, in turn, led to several PhDs and subsequently to the publication of several project management papers. She also gave a light-hearted description of the different types of students that are to be found in every class.
The Head of the Academy of one of the leading construction and engineering companies, Group 5, Mr Jacques le Roux reflected on the ten years that a tailored version of the Programme in Project Management has been presented in-house at Group 5. He told how, towards the end of 2006, the Academy was instructed by the executive to invest a million Rand on project management training in order to achieve on-site improvements, and how the PPM was selected. He elaborated on how what is taught on the programme, is applied in practice. He also highlighted the positive role that the Group 5 Executive plays in the successful application of what is taught and in the continuing collaboration with the University.
On each intake, the student with the highest average marks receive – in addition to the customary certificate – a ‘best student’ award. Mr Tlholohelo Lesetla, one of the students who received this award in 2006 explained how what is taught on the course relates to his work and career.
In the concluding remarks, Prof Herman Steyn said that, “…in moving into the third decade of this programme, business as usual is no longer an option; …we have to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution as an opportunity to stay ahead of the pack, and will have to innovate at various fronts.” He however added, “…we will not change for the sake of change – if it ain’t broken, we’re not going to fix it”. He thanked a variety of team members and other stakeholders who contributed to the success of the programme over the past two decades; including the backing of three Deans and three Heads of Department (HODs.) Prof Tinus Pretorius was HOD for 16 of the 20 years. He praised the excellent service of Schoongezicht as one of the things that “ain’t broken”.
Ms Bontle More handed a small token of appreciation to Ms Anita van Wyk of Schoongezicht. The main course, desert (including the birthday cake – courtesy of Schoongezicht) was enjoyed and later on everybody left the Schoongezicht venue with complimentary bottles of wine, hallmarked with the Enterprises corporate image and “20 years of developing practical project managers”.