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Benchmarking Good Practice In University Leadership.

Strathmore University in conjunction with The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) hosted the annual ACU Strategic Management Program, which took place at the Strathmore University Business School from the 26th to 28th August 2019. The workshop’s main aim was benchmarking good practice in university leadership. The programme offered a distinctive and cost-effective opportunity for participating universities to compare and contrast their main management processes with a range of higher learning institutions. This evaluative process assisted in identifying areas for change as well as helping to set targets for development, and it identified a range of actions to help attain new goals.

The face-to-face workshop has three themes each year which are evaluated. This year’s themes were: strategic planning and management which focused on governance structure and effectiveness, preparing for the future, clarifying overall strategy and delivering operational plans to match the strategy; management of information technology (IT) which focused on preparing and anticipating the future policy decisions; the debate on whether to lead or follow technological advances; the impact on learning process and reviewing effectiveness; and finally managing public relations (PR) which focused on managing PR in an age of social media, reputation management, managing the effect of league tables etc and policies and practice. ACU strategic management programme consultant Cliff Wragg said the themes were looked at by the different participating universities and were critically examined to get a better understanding of the areas. “We then have expert assessors who are appointed for their expertise in a given set topic, who lead us through that topic and we tease out examples of good practice,” Mr Wragg added. This year’s evaluators were Chair of The Royal Canadian Mint, Phyllis Clark, ACU Program Assessor, David Baker, and International Strategic Communication Consultant, Di Burton.

“In conversing with the Vice Chancellor of this school I was really impressed by the feedback I received on the effects of the programme at Strathmore as this institution has been a part of the ACU since 2013. I was informed that they have taken ideas and concepts from previous workshops and tried to improve them,” Mr Wragg remarked. “In my view, this is a good sign that the programme is resulting in enhancement of the quality of management in the institution.” Mr Wragg further commented on the content discussed during the course of the event stating that debates held were under chatham house rules, therefore nothing could be attributed to a particular university, thus enabling the delegates to be really open and honest about mistakes made and goals achieved. “You learn a lot from this approach,” he said.

Mr Wragg’s sentiments were shared by Strathmore University Relations and Communications Director Betty Ngala who further echoed the importance of confidentiality. “People did not hold back when sharing their experiences of running various departments. You get to hear how these strategies impact the day-to-day running of PR or IT departments. This event also helped with my PHD as I was able to network among peers and got contacts that will come in handy in the near future,” Mrs Ngala said. She also noted the importance of strategy with regards to research. “The objective of a particular area of research is a question that needs to be tackled deeply so that we can set our objectives better.”

Delegates from Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, UK and Canada took part in this year’s conference. They also got the chance to take a road trip to Hell’s Gate, and wine and dine at Strathmore University’s Maasai Mara restaurant and enjoy a culture-filled night out at Carnivore Simba Saloon grounds. Vice Chancellor Designate Vincent Ogutu described the ACU as a network of peers who help each other and look out for each other.


This article was written by Stephen Mariru

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