Driving the world through knowledge and skills

Hailing from Khomasdal, Albin Jacobs matriculated from Dawid Bezuidenhout Secondary School. He realised early on that the only way to get ahead in life is through deliberate focus on his studies and today, he is the managing director of Southern Business School (SBS).

21 February 2020 | People

Ester Kamati

Through dedication to his studies, Albin Jacobs matriculated and went on to secure a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Namibia. He did not end there though, as he went on to secure a Master of Arts in political science from Unam as well as Master of Science in project planning and management from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

“I believe you never stop learning in this dynamic time and world. I have continued to pursue education,” says Jacobs, a proud academic who as luck would have it now works at an institution of higher learning where he typically works with daily administration matters, student registrations, finances and with students, directly and indirectly. Jacobs went through a series of jobs before taking a seat in his current SBS office.

His working journey began with a job in the then National Planning Commission shortly after independence. He was part of the team that undertook the preparation process for the country’s first census in 1991. He describes this as one of the best experiences of his life. “I worked all over the country and I really saw the country one village at a time.”

He was later employed at the census office, where he worked part-time while simultaneously pursuing his studies. According to him, studying became part of his life and until this day, he is still a student, and according to his son the “oldest student” he knows.

He also worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development as a development planner, where he worked with partners from all over the world whilst implementing a series of programmes countrywide. He additionally joined the team of staff at the then Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and occupied positions such as the director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development and director of the Namibian-German Centre for Logistics during his time there. He enjoyed all these areas as these involved “starting up new things and creating new opportunities.”

In 2013, Jacobs left the PoN and joined the Southern Business School, which has grown tremendously to the point where they now enrol about 3 000 students annually, who can pursue tertiary education wherever they are in the country.

In his current position, Jacobs has realised his goals to create opportunities for people to empower themselves, as we all need a helping hand sometimes. He says the spirit of aiding others is alive at SBS.

“Giving people from all walks of life a path to education is what drives me and my staff every single day.”

Other than the administration aspect of his duties, the managing director is also involved in regular planning which involves graduations, examinations and classes. According to him, no two days are ever the same, which he appreciates as this prevents things from becoming dull and boring. Additionally, he is actively involved in the development of the institution as a business through engaging industry partners, marketing and ensuring that the SBS brand is visible and noticeable to the Namibian public.

Jacobs says education is vital and higher education institutions will continue to play a central role in skills improvement and transfer regardless of what skills or knowledge society requires.

“Education will change, but the fundamentals will stay the same. Knowledge and skills is what drives the world. How we transfer those elements will change and will have to be amended as we go along.” He further highlights the convenience created by technology through platforms such as e-learning.

Speaking about his passion for education, he quotes the words of Nelson Mandela that education is indeed the greatest equaliser. “It is the one thing that can give people social, political and economic mobility…nothing else comes close.” He describes education as the one thing in life where merit is the foundation for success. “Education in my view has no respect for who you are. As long as you bring your A-game you are welcome.”

From stories that he encounters first-hand, Jacobs has the main goal to assist people in their self-betterment “I want to create opportunities for people to be the best person they can be.” SBS is slowly living up to his expectations and he shared a few testimonies. “I have seen people coming into our institution with mature age entry and go right up to complete their master’s. From working as clerks to being managers.”

In many instances, young students especially have difficulty finding the ‘ideal field’ and according to Jacobs this is because they believe that it is a lifelong decision they need to make. Many people in the MD’s circle do not work in the field that they studied and he associates this to the beauty of education. “Education develops transferable skills. Skills that you can apply in any environment you find yourself in. Therefore, it is important to get an education and this will open new opportunities and like they say opportunity favour the prepared.”

A firm believer that knowledge and skills are equally vital for a society to function at its optimum, Jacobs expressed that vocational training and academia should complement each other and not be considered as ‘in competition’. “The most successful societies in the world are those where these two modes of education are equally important.”

Consistency is a key ingredient in the recipe for a successful tertiary institute as he says that students need to know what to expect from the institution. Additionally, quality is critical as Jacobs guarantees that “students need to be assured that what they are doing is of quality, accredited and recognised, through the NQA for example. Industry must be assured that the students they employ from SBS Namibia have received a quality education. Other ingredients in this recipe include flexibility, which allows students to work at their own pace as well as affordability, which is critical as students often struggle financially.

With such big shoes to fill, Jacobs gets very little free time, which he mainly spends with his family. He also has an interest in old cars and is currently rebuilding a 1969 VW pick up, a project which kept him busy for the past two years.

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