/ 30 May 2024

The transformative power of an MBA

Media celeb Seipati "Twasa" Seoke.

Seipati “Twasa” Seoke’s journey from entertainment to executive education 

For over two decades, Seipati “Twasa” Seoke has carved a niche for herself in the media industry; she is renowned for her vibrant presence on radio and television. She currently dominates the airwaves with a breakfast show on Lesedi FM, which she jokingly calls “the largest Sesotho radio station globally”. Her journey is not just one of entertainment; it’s also a tale of continuous learning and personal evolution, culminating in an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in 2022.

From media to MBA 

Seoke’s journey began in radio, but she cemented her place in the hearts of South Africans as the host of Jam Alley, a popular youth music show on SABC 1, where she enthralled audiences for nine years. After a long hiatus, Twasa made a triumphant return to television with a talk show on Dumisa TV and is set to host the second season of Kasi to Kasi, also on SABC 1.

Her journey from the glitzy world of entertainment to the rigorous demands of an MBA programme was motivated by a deep-seated desire for knowledge and the need to pivot in an ever-changing industry. “I realised that the environment had become unstable in the entertainment industry due to dynamic changes brought on by technology and the internet,” she explains. “My skills gap had become obvious, and I knew that I needed to pivot.” 

This awareness, combined with a challenge from her spiritual teacher, Tim Grage, to plan her future, reignited her ambition to pursue advanced education. “Until that moment I had never thought about my life beyond the age of 60,” she recalls.  

An eternal student 

Twasa’s foray into executive education did not begin with her MBA degree, and her academic journey is a testament to her commitment to personal and professional growth. Starting with an IMM-GSM Marketing Management Diploma in 2013, she continued with a PMD from GIBS in 2019, a PGDip from Milpark Business School in 2020, and finally, her MBA from GIBS in 2022. 

Each qualification was a stepping stone, equipping her with the skills needed to navigate and lead in the business world. “The MBA stood out due to its references to analytical thinking, innovation, business resilience and practical business,” she explains. For Twasa, the qualification was not just about acquiring a degree; it was about expanding her worldview, increasing career options, and gaining access to specialised spheres of discourse and decision-making.

Juggling this hunger for knowledge and self-development with a demanding media career was no mean feat, and the journey was not without challenges. “The reality of undertaking such a rigorous journey is that you can’t make the world stop for you because you have started a self-development journey; life continues to happen around you and you are not spared its impact.” 

From balancing personal losses like the passing of her father to overcoming academic hurdles like impostor syndrome and mastering research methodologies, her resolve was often tested. Despite this, Twasa’s determination and the support of her peers carried her through, ultimately leading to an award-winning dissertation.

While many take an average of two years to complete their MBA, it was a four-year journey for Twasa. “I had to start at an NQF level 6 and work my way up,” she explains. “I wish I had appreciated earlier just how rapidly change is happening, and how fulfilling the process of self-development that helps you navigate it is. I would have gotten started much earlier in my life.”   

Understanding self and others 

The training helped shape her approach to leadership, teamwork and problem-solving: “The process helped me to clearly articulate my leadership style, identify any leadership gaps, and then develop strategies for improvement. Through understanding human behaviour — mine and that of others — I became far more empathetic, inclusive, and embracing of actively effecting change and creating spaces where teams can thrive. The degree generally builds individuals who are problem-solving oriented, resilient, change initiating and embracing, and who have a healthy appetite for risk.” 

She says the fact that the leadership course was not just a standalone module but rather an ongoing golden thread that ran through the entire programme helped her understand how leadership plays out in different areas of business. “This broke down the silos-mentality previously held, unlocking the potency of forging synergies,” she says. It also helps that training is conducted by “academics who are also business practitioners”. 

Beyond the academic rigour, Twasa found immense value in the networking opportunities provided by GIBS. “The mix of colleagues who sit with you in class feeds into the robustness of the debates and discussions that ensue, shaping your levels of exposure to various industries and the opportunities they offer,” she explains. “These experiences uniquely help build your decision-making competencies. Even if none of the relationships turn into future collaborations, they nonetheless become sources of information and continual guidance.” 

Advice for leaders of tomorrow 

For those considering an MBA, Twasa advises a clear understanding of one’s motivations. “The reason ‘why’ you want an MBA must be big enough to carry you through the down times of life and the high-pressure points of the programme,” she asserts. She also underscores the importance of continuous learning and recognising that an MBA is just one step in a continuous journey of self-development. “I believe that an MBA is a good enough attempt to stay relevant in this rapidly shifting world and how it constantly evolves, informed by both business environment challenges and demands,” she says.