Change the world


“We tend to forget that our fellow students go through many challenges. We portray that we can survive and that we do not need help. I encourage students to reach out to their peers in their group, a lecturer, or any other support structure. Just a listening ear can give hope”, says Ryan Gallant (48), who will graduated with his MBA (cum laude) on 12 December. 
Ryan, who is now a plant engineer at Coca-Cola (CCBSA) in Gqeberha, managed to complete his studies in spite of being retrenched because of the pandemic and having to start his MBA studies twice because of work pressures.  
Initially, Ryan started the MBA programme in 2018 when he was promoted to Engineering Manager in the tyre industry. He then stopped after three months because he thought the MBA was too demanding for him to handle. 
He did not have any formal business training on strategic marketing and management accounting as a BTech (Electrical Engineering) graduate and it was too stressful to leave work in Kariega early to attend class late afternoon in Gqeberha. Often, he also missed class when there were breakdowns at work. 
In January 2020, he enrolled again because it was his personal goal to finish the MBA. But then the pandemic happened, changed the economy, and he lost his job in August 2020. The company also stopped their funding for his studies and the virtual classes caused by the pandemic were a challenge for him. 
“It was a difficult time for me and my family since I had no income at home, and I had enrolled in the MBA programme at the peak of the pandemic. I had to raise funds to finish the second year of my MBA. It was about prioritising and surviving. Additionally, we had to move in with my eldest daughter about a week before Christmas”, Ryan says.
Ryan kept on searching for a job and continued his studies. He was then hired by Coca-Cola (CCBSA) to manage two utility departments in Gauteng. It was a challenge to be in a new place without his family and juggling the MBA programme. 
Thanks to an offer from Coca-Cola (CCBSA) he came back to Gqeberha and submitted his treatise in January 2022 and graduated on 12 December. 
“The support of my family and the encouragement from Prof Margie Cullen for me to stay on the MBA programme is greatly appreciated, as well as her assurance that a life-changing experience such as this can only build character”, he says.
The topic of his MBA research was the influence of authentic leadership on the workplace safety culture in the tyre industry of South Africa. The industry is tough and has many safety risks that must be eliminated or mitigated. 
It was interesting to note that despite pressures to act differently, leaders remained true to their values, personalities, and their belief system. Respondents rated their management's implementation of the organisation's safety routine highly. Authentic leadership also strongly influences motivation to work safely, he says of his findings. 
Ryan quotes Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it’s done”, which is very apt for his situation. 

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160