Professor and academic co-ordinator in the Discipline of Agricultural Economics at UKZN, Lloyd Baiyegunhi graduated with his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies in the 2021 Spring Graduation ceremonies.
Baiyegunhi joined UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2009 after three years at the University of Fort Hare, where he completed his PhD studies. He completed his undergraduate and master’s studies at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria.
Baiyegunhi was drawn to studies in agricultural science due to the field’s broad applicability from agricultural production to agribusiness and economics, specialising in a field of study that gave him insight into business management and economics.
He decided to pursue MBA studies to enhance his consultancy and strategic thinking skills and expand his knowledge of the agricultural business sector.
‘I developed an interest in business administration after years of trying to understand the process that holds businesses together on different levels, so I enrolled for an MBA to gain a better overview of the business world and a deeper understanding of the changes that occur in this environment,’ said Baiyegunhi.
MBA studies presented the opportunity to challenge himself and sharpen his grasp of business and management. His dissertation is a case study of emerging sugarcane farmers on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, focusing on the impact of human capital on innovation and productivity; the study resulted in the publication of two papers in accredited peer-reviewed journals.
Baiyegunhi said attaining his MBA will improve his contributions to the agricultural sector, especially as an academic operating in developing and emerging economies where there is a need for robust agricultural education and training.
‘Agricultural production and agribusiness remain the most viable option to transform economies in developing countries,’ he said. ‘The industry needs the input of skilled professionals to help bring productivity, profitability, ecological sustainability and produce quality up to the natural and technological potential, and meet the challenges of increasing urbanisation, food insecurity, environmental change, consumer safety, economic and social prosperity, sustainable energy development, and rural development.’
Baiyegunhi added that his MBA experience enabled him to acquire expertise in business functions, develop a deeper understanding of agribusiness strategy and learn how to approach complex business issues from a systematic, theoretical and practical perspective. It also enhanced his career by encouraging continued personal and professional development, and afforded him the opportunity to learn from industry leaders and explore innovative ways of doing business through team projects.
He believes the MBA and the knowledge it imparted in terms of contemporary thinking, practices and business tools applicable to agribusiness will enable him to better train students interested in entrepreneurship or a career in the food and agribusiness industry, or who hope to gain competitive advantage and specialisation in the job market. He is considering diversifying his skills portfolio by establishing an agribusiness consulting company in the future.
Baiyegunhi and his wife Dr Omolara Baiyegunhi welcomed their first child, Eliana Tiara while he was completing his MBA, and he commented that dedication, perseverance, commitment, humility, focus, hard work, the grace of God and a life of prayer enabled him to manage his academic and family responsibilities. He expressed gratitude to his wife and daughter and his supervisor Professor Mihalis Chasomeris for their support and encouragement.
Words: Christine Cuénod