Contact information:

Ms Milisa Piko
Communications Manager: George Campus
Tel: 044 801 5098
milisa.piko@mandela.ac.za

Evolve Team Series: George Campus Academic Administration

17/11/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it, including the way we work. The Evolve Team Series seeks to capture these changes and salute staff in navigating and adapting to remain productive in very trying circumstances. Tell us how your team as evolved (see details at end).

George Campus Academic Administration – a work in progress

The past eight months have been hard in so many ways, and COVID-19 is not yet behind us. But as a University we have persevered … navigating through many challenges as the Academic Administration team from George Campus share, ever a “work in progress” 

Q: What is the role and responsibility of your team?

Academic Administration forms part of the Registrar’s portfolio. We provide, among other services, support related to Access & Enrolment (Admissions), Faculty Academic Administration & Timetabling, Committees Services and Assessments & Graduation. The team comprises an Access & Enrolment Consultant, two Faculty Academic Administration Consultants, two Assessments & Graduation Consultants, a very able student assistant and is headed by a Senior Manager. The nature of our job requires us to engage and work transversely. Our services touch the continuum of a students’ tenure at Mandela i.e. from enrolment to graduation and beyond!       

Q: What were the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome during lockdown?

With the announcement of the national lockdown (alert level 5) by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which commenced 27 March, we were awaiting the arrival of a new team member and the official return - after more than two years - of our head, David Alexander, after serving Mandela in another capacity. Mothiba Mahuna, our HRC, facilitated our human resource issues with efficacy. ICT fundis, and especially Thembelani Tshambu, played a pivotal role in setting our remote offices up and connected.  This enable us to communicate across various online platforms with internal and external communities alike. Our nimble team, like a duck to water, embraced the evolving life and work environment along with its challenges and opportunities.

We had our fair share of anxieties given the impact of the pandemic on our families and communities. In some instances, panic attacks had to be managed! Institutional information messaging and referrals proved to be invaluable. Work-life balance, staying safe online, navigating the new office space with new colleagues (family) made us realise how different a home office is to its long-established counterpart.

Q: What new skills has your team learnt – as individuals and as a whole?

Virtual communication and meeting platforms such as MS Teams are new additions to our enabling-toolkit. It also facilitated ease of access to fellow colleagues and students as we continue adjusting to the new norm that altered our work, home and social life. We became more mindful of the need and impact of our services by our various stakeholders. Transforming into “the new” brought memories of the #FMF protests and our adeptness when required. The trend to work extraordinarily long hours given the “accessibility”, had to be actively discouraged to ensure a more stable and health work-life balance.   

Q: With the move to digital operations, how best can you describe your new way of working?

Though significant, the “digital” is but one component of our new way of work. Emerging alongside it, has been the development of time-tested traits such as agility, authenticity, and empathy to maintain “soul”. These are some of the traits that we as a team intentionally pursue.

Individual and team performance has improved … efficacy … new way of work is a bit challenging, but managemental transition from the traditional to the (uncertain) new, pose a good challenge. MS Teams and other virtual platforms have brought new ways of coping, especially since much our work is at the coalface. In-person or telephonic consultations in some instances, simply have no substitute.

As team leaders in the respective focal areas, we are consciously prioritising wellbeing and resilience!

It’s a work in progress.

From left to right Elise Labuschagne,  Nonkululeko Nokhepheyi , Desmond Scholtz, Siya Mayana, Natalie du Plessis, Zezethu Msila and David Alexander

Share your Team’s Evolve story with us by responding to the above questions and capture shots of your team wherever they are working.