GIBS’s retiring academic giant Nick Binedell: staying hungry, staying foolish

By Alec Hogg

Managed to catch up with my neighbour last night. Nick Binedell, founder and for the past 17 years Dean of Africa’s top business school, was en route to Rotterdam to teach his regular course. As friends tend to, we quickly got past yesterday’s press release announcing his resignation from GIBS. There’s really no drama. A succession plan is in place. He just wants to catch his breath.

Nick is a young 60 with seemingly boundless energy. Especially when he’s around a dinner table with interesting guests. Never happier than when he’s teaching. And learning. Often by observing. When we were on the farm in KZN, on random weekends Nick would call to say he was on one of his exploring journeys and not too far away. Just himself. And how were we placed for a cup of tea?

In the late Steve Jobs’s magnificent 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, Apple’s founder urged the graduates to “stay hungry, stay foolish.” Nick Binedell has never lost his ability to do just that. There is so much, he says, that he doesn’t know. But running a 300 staff, 4 000 student business school is a hefty commitment. So my neighbour is, simply, calling time on his management career. He wants to explore more. Teach more. Learn more. And, in his own quiet, unobtrusive way, help nudge our country in the right direction.

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