Barbara Erasmus

Barbara Erasmus

    There's an air of expectation in the Johannesburg City Hall as the audience settles down prior to the arrival of the evening's star attraction, Sergei Nakariakov. An attractive dark-haired young man in trendy clothes, Nakariakov looks as if he could be a contestant in Idols. But he is no short-term pop sensation. The young Russian trumpeter has been hailed as a musical genius in the class of Paganini and Caruso.

    There's an air of expectation in the Johannesburg City Hall as the audience settles down prior to the arrival of the evening's star attraction, Sergei Nakariakov. An attractive dark-haired young man in trendy clothes, Nakariakov looks as if he could be a contestant in Idols. But he is no short-term pop sensation.

    A diverse group has gathered at the Naziema Isaacs library in Khayelitsha outside Cape Town in response to a notice about a writers' workshop.

    It's 8.30am on a damp, Saturday winter morning in Cape Town, but still the lecture room at Share Direct is full. The people in the audience don't look like stockbrokers in suits and ties. They're ordinary people -- a teacher, a travel agent, a construction worker. What they all have in common, though, is the realisation that each will need to get the most out of their current income if they are to enjoy financial freedom in the years that lie ahead.

    Two months ago Minister of Education Kader Asmal announced a probe into MBA programmes. But academics and business leaders are divided in their opinion regarding the nature of the analysis.

    At first glance, the computer room at Optima College looks like any other computer room at schools around the country. Young adults sit in front of a row of computers with standard keyboards. Their teacher, Deena Moodley, moves attentively between them.

    Cultural diversity is close to the heart of Stella M Nkomo, a professor at Unisa's Graduate School of Business Leadership, who has studied the role of race and gender in the corporate world. Her recently published book (co-written with fellow American academic Ella Bell), Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity, is based on eight years of research on women who have reached top management positions in the United States.

    "An adrenaline-charged frontier." That's how Professor Nick Binedell, director of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), describes the heady challenges currently facing South African business leaders.