A leadership development initiative has been launched for middle to senior managers, executives and entrepreneurs in the construction industry.

CEO of Symphonia for South Africa, Komala Pillay . Symaphonia

CEO of Symphonia for South Africa, Komala Pillay .📷 –  Symaphonia

The opportunity to participate in the programme is being made available by the workmen’s compensation provider, The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM). FEM has over 6,600 policyholders covering over 300 000 employees in the construction industry.

Through the FEM Education Foundation (FEMEF), successful applicants will engage in a 12-month immersive leadership experience in which they work with school principals serving under-resourced communities.

The opportunity is available to up to 300 selected business leaders who are entrepreneurs, middle to senior managers or executives and who would otherwise not be able to afford the programme, with 100 places per year over the next three years. “The aim is to impact positively on the participants, the schools and ultimately the economy,” says FEM CEO, Ndivhuwo Manyonga.

“FEMEF has partnered with Citizen Leader Lab, formerly Symphonia for South Africa and their Partners for Possibility (PfP) initiative, to offer FEM policyholders this special opportunity for a full-funded place on the programme. Through PfP’s leadership development programme, FEM policy holders will have the opportunity to impact education in South Africa while developing their own leadership skills,” adds CEO of Symphonia for South Africa, Komala Pillay.

Business leader applicants must have at least 5-years of management experience and should ideally be at the middle to senior management or executive level, Entrepreneurs may also apply for the opportunity.

Founded in 2010, PfP pairs school principals with business leaders in a 12-month collaborative and practical leadership journey. Through this process, school principals become empowered to embed their schools at the centre of their communities and to improve the quality of education being offered to youth. Business leaders in turn are able to develop their leadership skills through hands-on experience in a complex environment very different from their day-to-day working life.

PfP will identify the school principal who will work with the nominated FEM policy holder. The policy holder may nominate a school of their choice should they so wish. “The PfP programme features the key elements of professional coaching, best-in-class training workshops, practical leadership development exposure to a marginalised South African community and regular learning and networking opportunities for school principals and business leaders,” says Pillay.

“Over the past decade, PfP has empowered over 3,200 school principals and business leaders nationwide and is globally considered to be a best-practice example of 21st century leadership development,” Pillay explains.

‘’The quality of education our children receive, and the sustainability of the economy are inextricably linked. Small and medium sized businesses, as well as large corporations, are the lifeblood of our economy and rely on a well-educated workforce to drive economic growth,” she says.

“To achieve this, school principals are vital in terms of ensuring that schools are environments of quality teaching and learning, as they nurture and equip the future workforce of South Africa. We believe that is it imperative that these two sectors come together to make an impact in education and ultimately our economy,” says Ms Pillay.

One of the participants in the Partners for Possibility programme, Grant Kelly, a financial services executive, says, “The PfP programme is an amazing leadership development opportunity with the potential to create a new level of social consciousness amongst our corporate leaders in SA. It offers an incredible sense of optimism to business leaders through the exposure to the talent, energy, goodwill, and commitment across our society. Through PfP I got to meet an amazing community of committed South Africans whom otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to meet.”

“I learnt a great deal through the formal PfP training workshops, as well as the more informal engagement sessions. The programme provides an incredible opportunity to experience the difference between ‘Management’ and ‘Leadership’ first-hand. For me, it really created the awareness that ‘leadership’ does not require rank, title or authority but is fundamentally a practice of service with humility and courage.”

“My PfP experience clearly highlighted the duality of the South African experience and exposed me to the incredible ‘latent’ talent that is spread across our society, especially from some of the students who have got so little support (financial and, in many cases, emotional) and inspired me to try and be a catalyst in creating a more inclusive society, where those talents can be fulfilled,” Kelly says.

“Creating a heightened level of social consciousness among business partners while providing support (emotional, financial and technical) to principal partners really is a very powerful experience. My principal and his team were absolutely capable of solving their school’s challenges, but PfP created the framework that gave us the space to engage, discuss and collaborate on what we wanted to achieve and how best to achieve it.”

“The power of collaboration, engagement and collective participation was clear. I have taken this approach in my daily life, both at work and at home, with the quality of the outcomes increasingly reflecting the power of “the collective.”

“The PfP programme epitomises the benefits of collaboration between the public and private sectors, creating a programme that benefits both parties for the ultimate good of future generations and our society,” Kelly concludes.