July 25, 2012

Raman Dhawan addresses Wits University's 2012 graduating class

"Be just. Be honest. Be respectful." That was the message of Raman Dhawan's address to the graduating class of 2012 at the University of Witwatersrand. On July 4, 2012, the managing director of Tata Africa Holdings took the podium to deliver the last academic address to the students in the faculty of law, management and commerce, as they embarked on their professional careers.

While beginning his address, Mr Dhawan shared his pleasure at having been accorded the honour of addressing the students. He went on to trace South Africa's political history and how doing business in the country at times seemed like a distant dream. He touched upon how Tata group's foray into Africa in 1977 slowly grew from the first company in Zambia to a presence that now reaches southern, western and central Africa.

He spoke of the role Wits University and its students played by being at the forefront of the political and social activism towards a liberated and democratic South Africa. He reminded the graduates that the world had shifted into a new world economic order, one where Africa is on the centre stage with six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. He stressed the importance of ensuring that these gains were not lost, urging the graduates to take up the responsibility to capitalise on Africa's economic resurgence, paying particular attention to the leadership qualities that would be required to ensure that the prosperity of the continent is real and sustained. His advice:

  • Be just: This was the first pearl that reverberated in the hushed auditorium. He appealed to the graduates' sense of justice, reminding them to be fair to others in their dealings as future leaders of business and government.
  • Be honest: Reminding the graduates of the recent scandals that have rocked the banking sector, he emphasised the centrality of honesty as a fundamental element of good leadership.
  • Be respectful: He pointed out that respect begins when one learns to give credence to the ideas of others, making a conscious effort to learn and improve on one's ability to listen to others.