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Durbanite Michael Cloete receives his doctoral degree

Michael Cloete

Consulting psychology falls within the discipline of Industrial and Organisational Psychology (IOP). Cloete titled his thesis: A Leadership Capability Model for the South African Higher Education Environment which is about the research he conducted across South African public universities to identify the capabilities needed to successfully lead South African universities during times of rapid change and disruption.

Cloete joined the higher education sector in 2013 and realised that many (if not most)  leaders, specifically directors and executive directors of public universities, operated in a rapidly changing and disruptive environment for which many were not equipped.

He indicates that the #FeesMustFall movement, which saw the beginning of free higher education for all in South Africa and the onset of the Covid19 pandemic placed additional demands on university leaders to deal with rapid change and disruption.

Among the matters is the impact of workplace support on the performance of HIV/AIDS-infected employees, a topic he researched while at master’s level.

According to Cloete, by understanding what these capabilities are and what is required to deal with change and disruption; it enables universities to build into the relevant job profiles; recruitment and selection processes and development programmes of leaders at all levels.

“Working in the Human Resources and IOP field for many years gave me an understanding of the world of work and its impact on individuals and their immediate families, teams, organisations and the community,” says Cloete.

“I was motivated by the need to try and identify one aspect that could improve the functioning of teams and universities,” Cloete says. He stressed the importance of him helping others to make a difference in their lives. He does this by assisting them to see their value and unlock their potential to become the best version of themselves.

He thrived on his curious nature; his drive to improve and discover new knowledge, his tenacity and self-discipline, which has developed over the years, to undertake his PhD studies.

Cloete’s academic background spans from 1984 after he finished Matric with an average pass mark. He only decided to start with formal education in 1995 at the age of 30. “At that point, I set myself a goal to complete my Masters’ Degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and register as an Industrial Organisational Psychologist within ten years, including passing my board exam.”

He passed both his BCom and BCom Honours degrees Cum Laude. He also has an MCom. He was practicing as an IO Psychologist when he settled on a topic for his PhD in 2017. He commenced with the PhD research process in January 2018 and successfully submitted his thesis at the end of December 2020.

He had worked for the South African Navy for 20 years and reached the rank of Commander before he was recruited to join Anglo American in December 2005 where he worked until 2013. At that point, Cloete was recruited by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, as a senior manager in Organisation Development and Talent, where he is still in service.


Article written by Ms Jo Cossavella, Communications Officer, KwaZulu-Natal Region




Publish date: 2021/09/22