“I am just overjoyed and ecstatic that I am able to put a tick next to my bucket list. It is done and dusted; I have reached this milestone.” This is how Professor Chandra Jinabhai described her feelings after graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the Durban University of Technology on 30 September 2022.
Professor Jinabhai graduated with a PhD in Management Sciences, specialising in Leadership and Complexity. The topic for her PhD was “Investigating the imperatives of research transformation at a university of technology in South Africa”.
Professor Jinabhai said she was motivated by South Africa’s former Minister of Higher Education and Training, now Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, who completed her PhD at the age of 66 in 2019.
“I firmly believe that age should not be a limiting factor to achieving one’s dream to pursue vertical qualifications,” said Professor Jinabhai.
While employed at MUT for almost 30 years, Professor Jinabhai said she completed many qualifications and made sacrifices. She graduated with a PGDHE (UND), MBA (UDW), MCom (UDW), Diploma in Frontline Management (Kangan Batman TAGE, Melbourne), Higher Education Management Certificate (Wits), and a Management Development Programme (US), and attended many short courses.
“Logically, the next vertical qualification was to pursue a PhD,” Professor Jinabhai said.
Now 68, Professor Jinabhai, was the Head of the Department of Accounting for many years, and acted as Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, at MUT. She registered for the PhD in 2016 on a part-time basis and completed it at the end of 2021 during her retirement. Time was of the essence, she said.
“However, one of the main challenges was my roles as Head of the Department of Accounting and Law, and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences. These roles consumed the bulk of my time. I had very little time to focus on my PhD. It was almost impossible to do MUT work as a full-time academic and pursue my PhD at the same time,” said Professor Jinabhai.
Professor Jinabhai said that her husband, who is now retired, her daughter, and her niece, were all delighted when she graduated with this “hard-earned” qualification. “They were cognisant and supportive of the late and lonely nights I had spent on this PhD journey. It is a motivation for these young girls and other academics to complete their higher qualifications as well,” said Professor Jinabhai.
Professor Jinabhai said she wished to publish her research in DHET-accredited journals if afforded the opportunity, as well as to mentor new staff members pursuing their Masters and PhDs.
Professor Jinabhai’s advice to students who wish to study for their PhDs was that “times have changed and there are many prospects to take advantage of. You have a dream, dive into it and acquire it. Start early and do not procrastinate. Use your time optimally to your best advantage. Have faith in yourself by taking the first step even if you cannot see a holistic outcome. Achieve your milestones by seeing progress and not giving up. Believe in your strength, believe in yourself and you will conquer,” she said.