03 Oct

Vega School – growing brand and business leaders

Picture Barry Beukes

Successful businesses thrive in a challenge. They respond well to stimulating environments. Businesses cannot grow without demand for their goods or services. Good businesses respond to stronger demands and more competitive terrain; their response primarily determined by the depth of their human resources. The more collaborative, critical thinking, creative, and client-oriented staff the brand employs, the better they will service their customers and solve complex problems.

Naretha Pretorius heads up Vega School in Durban, a brand of the Independent Institute of Education (IIE), South Africa’s leading private higher education institution.

Since Vega School was established in 1999, it now has four campuses across the country with over 2 700 students who are taught an array of applied, industry appropriate skills that are focused on real life, design, brand and business-related challenges. Vega owns the creative space and has distinguished itself as the place to go for advertising and marketing agency wannabes, but the school has expanded its brief to include strategic brand communication, business and management offerings.

“Often, we are perceived to be a design or ‘creative’ school only, whereas we have Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees and honours programmes,” Pretorius says. The emphasis will always be on creativity at Vega, but that’s not limited to fashion design, interior design, multimedia design and graphic design, copywriting, game design and photography. Pretorius added that “Vega believes in creativity as the core to innovative and sustainable business and brand design”, which has resulted in Vega boasting an 89% employment rate.

The school’s programmes are geared toward real world application and industry-readiness. The institution does annual brand challenges where students in transdisciplinary teams from second year through to honours work on real-life clients, coming up with solutions for local and sometimes global businesses.

The challenge is focused on real-life business situations where they determine a brand’s values, mission, goals and strategic objectives with real-world implementation. The students conduct comprehensive research to find appropriate solutions for the client. In a recent engagement, Barrows Global executive creative director Ian Gourley described Vega’s Durban students as “definitely industry ready, with profound insights and professional presentations”.

Pretorius says that “our students studying business and management degrees are provided vital tools in accounting, finance and economics as well as business, management and innovation models that they will need as brand or business managers in corporates or as entrepreneurs.”

IIE qualifications at Vega must have substance and justify the expectation of employers. Realising it had the resources to do this, Vega extended its portfolio in 2015 to include a BCom in Strategic Brand Management, a BCom in Digital Marketing, and a BA in Strategic Brand Communication.

In larger corporations where brands are treated like businesses within the company, brand managers act essentially as small business owners. Brand managers monitor the competitive landscape, develop and execute strategies to exploit market opportunities, and deliver sales volume, market share, and profit projections for the business.

Dr Carla Enslin, co-founder of Vega School, says students are taught to think strategically, which gives their alumni the edge in the job market. Brand thinking requires whole brain thinking that produces ideas that map out the future and lead a new business world.

Vega affords working individuals opportunities for professional and continuous development within brand building. The Vega IIE post-graduate part-time study options include the Advanced Diploma in Brand Innovation, Post Graduate Diploma in Brand Contact Management, BA Honours in Strategic Brand Communication and the BCom Honours in Strategic Brand Management. Short learning programmes within brand building and management include Brand and Marketing Management, Strategic Brand Leadership, and Digital Strategy.

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