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  • DUT Alumni


The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Communications Manager, Ms Noxolo Memela is thankful to God for having completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration with Cum Laude. This is despite being in various demanding leadership roles as well as experiencing a traumatising 2021. She will be graduating at the DUT’s Virtual Autumn Graduation on Monday, 16 May 2022.

“At first when a colleague from the Faculty Office congratulated me, I did not believe him, so I logged into my student portal to see for myself. All I can say is I am in awe of the Lord’s work in everything that happened in my life in 2021. It was not an easy year, I had to deal with so much but my studies, work and my family kept me sane,” she said exultantly.

She is also very grateful to her lecturers, especially Ajith Ramgoon (AJ) and Dr Gustave Mungeni Kankisingi for being so patient and going the extra mile.

“Thank you to my colleagues at Communications and my line manager/senior director for all the support. Most importantly, thank you to my biggest cheerleaders, my family, I am not lucky I am blessed, God has been truly amazing,” she remarked.

Memela remarked that a leader needs to be innovative, flexible and understand change management, which is one of the modules that she struggled with but managed to get 81% as her annual mark.

She expressed her immense gratitude to the lecturers, class rep and the classmates who were very helpful and supportive and understood when she held up the class asking questions to gain more clearance.

She also did not have much knowledge about entrepreneurship but with the guidance of the class rep, whom she is now close friends with, and the group she did her group assignments with were there for each baby step she took.

“Sometimes when we had assignments and group work, we would meet on a Sunday or during a public holiday. It was strenuous to work during the day and attend class in the evening and often since the outbreak of COVID-19 majority of our work falls outside of normal office hours. You would find that I would be attending class while busy with work. After class I always made sure I listen to the recordings and note down any questions I had to either raise with the lecturer the next day or via WhatsApp,” she stressed.

Memela was not bothered that she did not have much of a social life because it was a commitment, she had made to herself and her studies and since she wanted to follow a different direction and dig deeper into leadership for both her Master’s degree and PhD, and needed to be disciplined and deliver what she had envisioned.

Memela’s academic journey started with DUT a few years ago when she did her undergraduate with the Faculty of Arts and Design where she obtained her National Diploma in Journalism. She then proceeded to the workplace, doing distant learning with UNISA, then later pursuing her Bachelor of Technology Degree in Public Relations Management at DUT while employed by the University as a Media Officer.

She then went to study for her honours with MANCOSA prior to this, she enrolled for her Master’s degree with the department of Public Administration.

Although her proposal was approved, she had to withdraw to focus more on the new role she was appointed to in 2017, which is her current post and saw a need to give her job her undivided attention since the University was also taking a new strategical direction.

When the DUT Business School was introduced, she was very excited and when she received an invite to pursue her studies in one of the programmes it offered.

Although she did not have a background on most of the programmes on offer, being a person that loves a challenge, Memela decided to throw herself into the deep-end and registered for a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration which is what she will graduate Cum laude for.

Explaining some of the academic challenges she had faced, Memela said her major encounter was that most of the modules/subjects were very new to her and it was a different direction altogether. Virtual learning proved to not be as easy as she had thought, especially with the likes of Eskom implementing loadshedding even during exams, presentations and submission dates.

“It did not help that my work was also very demanding of me. It was also unfortunately a very traumatising year for me because I spent majority of 2021 dealing with a personal matter that severely threatened my life had I not approached the legal route I doubt it would have been resolved.

“Fortunately, the prayers from my family, friends and the aid of a very understanding attorney saw me through victoriously. With each chapter of my life and episode of events, I had to channel my energy and mentality towards that, and I am grateful for a great team within the Communications department for their dedication, patience with and travelling the work journey with me. My family has been so amazing and with each path I take, they just continuously stand by me with no judgement in place. My friends too, especially those who knew about my challenges prayed for and with me,” she stressed.

With DUT’s ENVISION2030 strategic plan, Memela explained that it intertwined with her studies, recalling that one of the subjects/modules she did last year focus on change management.

“My role requires me to be very strategic and understanding of what is required for ENVISION2030 and I doubt I would be getting the grasp of things had I not done subjects like Applied Strategic Management, Innovation and Change Management in 2021,” she added.

The insightful, ambitious, and very passionate Memela, says she may come across as outspoken, but is quite shy as her shyness is accompanied by diligence.

“I am a very straightforward, reliable, and flexible individual. My family says I am a strict perfectionist, but I don’t see myself as a perfectionist or strict, I just value commitment, deliverance, and communication,” she quipped.

Her words of wisdom she imparts to fellow DUT students and staff alike who are keen to follow her footsteps is time-management, self-discipline and knowing the results that one wants in the end of one’s journey which is very important.

“Everything also depends on how much you want it; God can see you through, but you also need to meet him halfway. My friends were very understanding when I told them I am not available for any social events in 2021. My family has always been my pillar of strength, biggest cheerleaders and know me at my best and my worst. My little sister has been my earthly angel; she has been wiser than I am throughout everything I experienced in 2021. The world can disown or leave you, but nobody will ever take your education from you even when you are dead,” replied Memela.

Memela, when asked on her plans to study further, excitedly relayed that she had last month submitted her Master’s degree proposal at one of South Africa’s traditional University.

“When I shared with my supervisor that I am graduating Cum Laude, he said, he believes I can push to finish my degree within a year, (although I feel this is too ambitious, but I will give it a try), so I am just anxious and need to instil the same discipline I had while studying in 2021. I am running behind with my personal deadline to have my PhD at the age of 35, but I forgive myself and am still blessed because God just keeps introducing the right people into my life who are just perfect for the next step I am taking,” indicated Memela.

Sharing his well wishes on her sterling achievement is Alan Khan, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at DUT.

“Congratulations to our Communications Manager Ms Noxolo Memela on this fantastic achievement. I am not surprised that Noxolo has graduated Cum Laude. She is intelligent, diligent, focused and consistently striving to make a positive impact. Noxolo is also committed and dedicated to her role at DUT and she is always making a meaningful contribution to our university community, where she exemplifies the values and principles of ENVISION2030. I wish Noxolo continued success and good fortune in the years ahead and I am confident that she will attain her Masters and PhD in the near future.”

Going forward, she wants to keep her focus for the next three and very latest four years on her education. She also wants to advance in her career, learn new trades which will continuously make her an asset for any organisation she is with regardless of whether she is employed by it or not.

“The world is an ocean, you either swim or sink, how you dive into it is really up to you,” she said.

Pictured: Communications Manager, Ms Noxolo Memela

Waheeda Peters

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