Newly-appointed Director of Quality Promotion at TUT, Emily Mabote, is ready to take up the challenges in this strategic environment head-on.
YOUR VIEWS ON BEING APPOINTED IN THIS STRATEGIC POSITION. I concur with the sentiments shared in this quote by Robin Sharma: “Leadership is not about a title or designation. It is about impact, influence and inspiration: Impact involves getting results; influence is about spreading passion you have for your work and inspiring your teammates."
YOU HAVE BEEN WITH THE DIRECTORATE FOR QUITE SOME TIME. TELL US ABOUT THIS JOURNEY. Indeed, I have been with the Directorate since the merger. I have grown professionally and intellectually throughout the years since my days as a Quality Advisor, Deputy Director, and now as Director. I got to experience working in most of the portfolios in the Directorate. Some of the projects that I spearheaded along my journey include: establishing the Surveys portfolio and the Office of the Student Ombudsman several years ago to deal mainly with unfair practices towards students as a result of the merger. In 2007, I participated in the first cycle of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) institutional audits, and the first cycle of academic and academic support reviews at TUT. Together with the DQP team, we managed and coordinated the CHE Quality Enhancement Project (QEP). Currently, we are overseeing the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) project and provide assurance on the transition from the NATED Programme Qualification Mix (PQM) to the new HEQSF-aligned PQM. My predecessors have laid a strong foundation with regards to quality assurance at TUT. Now, my new path on this journey entails supporting the implementation of the Risk-based approach and Combined Assurance to ensure its full implementation and success. At the DQP, we aspire to be sector-leading in what we do. Thus, it is key that we fully implement Combined Assurance and Next Generation Quality Assurance to maximise its benefits and impact at the University.
FOR THOSE STAFF MEMBERS WHO DO NOT KNOW YOUR DIRECTORATE THAT WELL, CAN YOU PLEASE PUT THE WORK THAT IT DOES IN PERSPECTIVE AND HIGHLIGHT SOME OF ITS MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS. In summary, as an assurance provider, the DQP’s mandate is to protect the academic integrity of the institution and its programmes, and to enable institutional effectiveness. Some of our major achievements include being the second university in the country to establish an Office of the Student Ombudsman, conducting the annual First-Year Initial Experience Survey (FYIES), conducting and completing the first cycle of academic reviews, the quality assurance work done on new and revised programmes, and developing the new HEQSF-aligned PQM for the University.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN THIS ENVIRONMENT? Mainly making people understand that quality is not an add-on activity, but that it should be infused as part of our daily activities and it is a line management function. Quality is not an option, however, it is informed by regulatory requirements. Other challenges include misconceptions of people experiencing quality as compliance, bureaucratic processes and unnecessary administrative burdens. The biggest test for my office is to instil confidence in the University community that the approach to quality at TUT balances accountability, improvement and development. Taking into consideration the Risk-based and Combined Assurance approach to quality, it is key to deliver on my mandate as an assurance provider at TUT.
WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, ARE THE QUALITIES OF AN EFFECTIVE LEADER? It is someone with integrity, a visionary who is consistent, unbiased, empathetic and has good interpersonal and communication skills. He/she should also lead by example and empower the people he/she leads.
DO YOU THINK WOMEN LEADERS BRING OTHER QUALITIES TO THE ENVIRONMENTS THAT THEY STEER, OPPOSED TO MEN IN SUCH POSITIONS? Leaders are different, as they each possess unique strengths, personality traits and qualities. However, I am of the view that women tend to be good listeners as they pay attention to detail, value collaborations and are empathetic and able to better handle crises. In addition, they are pragmatic and able to multitask – qualities required in a fast-paced environment like the DQP.
YOU ARE BUSY WITH YOUR DOCTORATE AT RHODES UNIVERSITY. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH TOPIC AND WHEN YOU PLAN TO COMPLETE IT. Yes, I have registered for my doctoral studies at Rhodes University’s Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL). My field of research is higher education studies, focussing on quality assurance and enhancement. My topic specifically focusses on integrated quality assurance in higher education by using TUT as a case study. I am pacing myself steadily as I need to balance the workload of my new post and my studies. I gave myself three more years to complete my studies. Although it is still a long way to go, I’m up for the challenge.