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MBA summa cum laude pass for Mr Praneel
Nundkumar, CFO of the Durban Chamber of
Commerce.

For MBA summa cum laude graduate and Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Chief Operations and Financial Officer, Mr Praneel Nundkumar, studying for an MBA at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership was not only about personal development and refining his strategic skills but an opportunity to embark on research that would allow him to conceive innovative solutions to how businesses can function more effectively and efficiently.

In his thesis titled: “Corporate repositioning of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry”, Nundkumar decided to pursue research on corporate strategy and explored ways of helping the Durban Chamber reposition itself in the current business environment. Utilising the realisation that due to the constant change in the economic and business landscapes, many old organisations had not strategically responded to their changing environments and hence became irrelevant, Nundkumar decided that his research would be a valuable contribution towards the 158-year-old organisation repositioning itself through elements of the marketing mix thus ensuring the growth and sustainability of the organisation.

‘I researched various repositioning models and found that the organisation could be repositioned by repositioning price, place, promotion and product. I then conducted a survey of the 2 800 businesses in Durban who are Chamber members and made recommendations to the Chamber management. I was very tense about the dissertation component. Being a Chartered Accountant, one is not exposed to formal research techniques and thesis writing, so I was thrilled when I received my results,’ said Nundkumar.

While his Honours degree in Accounting and passion for business and entrepreneurship have paved a successful career path for Nundkumar as he has worked for organisations such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Imana Foods Group before the age of 30,  he counts completing his MBA and graduating summa cum laude as one of his biggest achievements. Even though he had to sacrifice family time and social time to keep up with the demands of the course the rewards of the soft and technical skills and the vast practical business knowledge attained during the pursuit of this qualification as well as getting appointed to his current position at the Chamber during his MBA studies were worth it.

‘When you are part of an intense course like the MBA, you really only have study colleagues to keep you motivated, focused and to help you through. Many fun and crazy memories were made with my MBA colleagues.  I made some great friends over the duration of my studies, who will always be great friends for years to come. I did have a life changing moment half way through my MBA studies, when I was offered a senior Executive position (CFO) at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I had been working towards a position like this for years, but did not expect it to come at the age of 28. The MBA qualification played a large part in my appointment and continues to influence my everyday work life,’ said Nundkumar.

Durban Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Andrew Layman, said Nundkumar had a significant strategic role to play in the progress of the Chamber as it sought to update its systems and practices.

Nundkumar’s supervisor and UKZN Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Professor Anesh Singh described him as a hard worker whose determination made him a pleasure to supervise.

‘Praneel put me under pressure in 2012 when he wanted me as a supervisor and said that he wanted to get distinctions for his dissertation and that I would be the person that would make that happen. I made it very clear that what he puts in is what he will get out – being a slave driver I pushed him hard but he was up to the challenge. I will be working with him to submit his work to relevant journals as it is worthy of publication,’ said Singh.