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Nexus Leadership Programme: Leaders as Learners

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Gain a greater appreciation of the complexity of the South African environment and the implications for personal, organisational and societal leadership.

“Be a voice, not an echo’’ - Albert Einstein

The GIBS Nexus Leadership Programme is no ordinary learning intervention. This transformative leadership programme is designed to equip leaders in business, civil society and government with both the self- and the social-awareness to lead effectively in this complex and rapidly changing world. Nexus aims to transform the ways leaders make-meaning of the world around them, enabling them to be more adaptable, more collaborative, and more skilful in engaging with complexity in their personal and professional lives. In the process, leaders' perspectives broaden from more individual concerns to a focus on the needs and concerns of society as a whole.

Nexus will challenge you to see – and to see beyond - your existing assumptions and biases.  It will equip you to have courageous conversations in ways that lead to innovative outcomes. It will enable you to learn from (rather than to dismiss) diverse and divergent perspectives and to create genuinely inclusive cultures that allow everyone to contribute.

The Nexus programme has been selected by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) as one of 35 programmes globally that demonstrate the unique ways that business schools globally embrace an innovative mindset and serve as visionaries across the higher education landscape".  In total, the AACSB received more than 315 submissions, across 33 countries for the 2017 Innovations That Inspire showcase.

Programme Methodology

The Nexus programme is based on experiential learning, reflective practice and direct engagement with societal leaders. It is not lecture based. Participants are invited into a series of carefully designed engagements with self, with others and with the broader environment and supported to reflect on these experiences to gain new insight. In this way, the learning of each participant is unique to them and continues to develop long after the end of the programme.

Nexus is run over a seven-month period. The course consists of 11 full-day and three half-day participatory and experiential learning sessions; 7 evening sessions with a small number of classmates to integrate learning; and an individual coaching session. Monthly activities and a series of reflective written assignments provides an opportunity for participants to apply and integrate their learning further.

The programme format for 2022 will be responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sessions may be held both on-line or in-person and participants will be informed before each session of the format. The health and safety of participants will always be a primary concern. 


Quotes from previous participants:

"Here is what I still apply from Nexus every day: [The] ability to have difficult conversations, through the application of the tools I learnt at Nexus. A greater appreciation for the benefit of diversity and the strength it gives us. The fact that everyone has a story and has something to teach us, despite their background, education level, provocation or status. To be more understanding of people – since you don't know their story, until you actually find out" - Melanie Miller - KPMG

"The value Nexus offered me was twofold. In my personal life, I have learnt to listen more and challenge myself to explore new spaces in our country beyond my comfort zone. In my workspace, my team knows that they can bring forward any new ideas and they will be considered, no matter their position or the size of the idea. The result is that many of these ideas are now being implemented to make us more efficient and successful as a team. It is also important that all voices are equal and that every person has an opportunity to contribute. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to attend a learning experience like Nexus. It was like no other course I have attended previously and realised quickly that what you put into Nexus, is what you will get out..." Gillian Whittal, Business Unit Manager, Janssen.

"In the world of changing technology, climate, stakeholder expectations, ethical dilemmas and market instability, the job of a leader is increasingly becoming that of building trust and not just ensuring productivity. This requires a different kind of leadership. It requires leaders to be authentic, to seek to understand their contexts deeply and to set out compelling visions that will connect with the heads and hearts of those they lead. Nexus is a journey that invites you to experience and experiment with ways of becoming this type of leader. To look again at your assumptions, values, beliefs and fears and to choose consciously that which serves you, others and the world. You will laugh, you will be surprised, you will be confused, you will be awed, you will be angry and you may even cry. Don't worry, you are becoming…"  Lerato Mahlasela, Managing Executive: Corporate Education, GIBS Business School.

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More Information

Who should attend?

  • The ideal Nexus candidate is someone who is passionate about making a positive difference in South Africa even if they are uncertain how to do it, Nexus participants believe that change is possible and want to be a part of it.

  • We welcome participants from the private sector, the public sector and civil society.

  • Some Nexus participants are sponsored by their organisations to attend the programme while others attend in their individual capacity.

How you will benefit

Through this programme you will: 

  • Build and strengthen a learning mindset;
  • Deepen your self-awareness, sense of agency and personal mastery;
  • Deepen your ability to see systems and linkages and reduce the 'silo' mentality;
  • Be able to work constructively and creatively with diverse stakeholders to understand and address pressing issues;
  • See more potential in people and situations, especially in those you may have been prone to discount or dismiss;
  • Be more willing and able to engage in the challenging conversations needed to move yourself, your organisation and the country forward;
  • Gain a greater contextual appreciation of the complexity of operating in the South African environment and the implications for personal and organisational leadership; and
  • Be connected to a passionate group of people who are committed to effecting positive change in South Africa.

Key Focus Areas

  • Self-Awareness: self-awareness; authenticity; the courage to voice divergent views and a belief in your own ability and freedom to effect change.
  • Social-Awareness: understanding of the South African social, economic and political landscape and an ability to engage with multiple perspectives in ways that engender trust and birth innovation.
  • Learning Mindset: cultivating an orientation to learning that includes a belief in one's capacity to learn and grow, an emotional orientation to curiosity and wonder and an understanding of the role of the body in learning.
  • Vision: a powerful and positive imagination of the future.

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Carrie Pratt specialises in the design and facilitation of participatory leadership, learning and change processes. She has thirty years' experience working with government, private sector and civil society organisations in South and Southern Africa, Canada and the United States.

Carrie is inspired by involvement in processes that support individuals, organisations and communities to reclaim and celebrate what is best inside themselves and to harness that energy to bring to life the future they would like to inhabit. She is a passionate believer in possibility.


BA in History and African Studies (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

MS in Sociology of Economic Change (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

EdM in Community Education (Boston University)

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