How Dr Mhlomi acquired PhD from Oxford

Not one to rest on his laurels, Mhlomi believes that an MBA will help him build the skills and experience needed to take his endeavours to the next level

Dr Vuyane Mhlomi continues to overcome hurdles in his life, attains phenomenal achievements and believes that an MBA will help him build the skills and experience needed to take his endeavours to the next level.

Mhlomi, from Khayelitsha in Cape Town, recently completed his doctoral degree, a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), in record time at Oxford University and has enrolled for an MBA at the same institution.

He has acquired this phenomenal achievement under the supervision of Dr Manu Vatish and Professor Ian Sargent. He sees his achievement as a significant milestone which serves as a source of great encouragement.

“I’m over the moon,” he told DESTINY.

Mhlomi’s graduation ceremony was held on 29 September 2017.

He said Oxford degrees are not automatically conferred at the end of the course, but only at a degree ceremony. He said one may graduate in person or in absence, straight after one has finished one’s degree (subject to availability), or many years later.

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Mhlomi said he was fortunate to have graduated the same year in which he finished his studies.

The Oxford graduation ceremony is markedly different to ceremonies in South Africa. He describes it as “solemn” and mostly conducted in Latin, a new experience both for him and his family.

“My family was very excited,” he said.

Mhlomi comes from a humble background, a fact that he uses, not to elicit pity, but to motivate other young people who, through dedication and hard work, can also achieve their dreams.

He was born and raised by his mum in impoverished circumstances in Khayelitsha, a sub-economic township on the fringes of Cape Town that grapples with poverty, organised crime and drug abuse.

He entered medical school at the University of Cape Town (UCT) based on differential admission criteria, designed to mitigate economic, social and educational disadvantages.

Despite this, his academic progression was spectacular. “With a record of distinctions in preclinical, clinical and final clinical examinations, my progress culminated in the award of my medical degree with first-class honours, ending my undergraduate years in third position in a class of almost 200 students – unequivocal proof of intellectual and academic ability of the highest standard among my peers,” he said.

He said that after graduating from medical school, he witnessed first-hand the failings of the South African public healthcare system and its devastating impact on the poor and marginalised.

“The heavy burden of disease, lack of essential medicines and equipment, a shortage of healthcare personnel as well as poor management against a background wherein the basic determinants of health are not secure, are all contributors to the appalling state of the public healthcare system,” he said.

To tackle this problem, he co-founded the Emergent Healthcare Group (EHCG), a firm committed to transforming healthcare in Southern Africa using different innovative tools and models.

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“Growing up in Khayelitsha – one of South Africa’s harshest townships – I learnt the value of determination and education. It also taught me the importance of giving back. Through the MH Foundation, an educational non-profit I founded in 2013, I have provided comprehensive scholarships to underprivileged students in secondary school,” he said.

He said his experience as a South African medical doctor, Rhodes scholar, entrepreneur and now as an Oxford DPhil graduate, have exposed him to exciting, demanding and sometimes contrasting worlds.

“These experiences have convinced me to look beyond the conventional clinical or academic path followed by many of my peers. Instead, my passion lies where these different worlds converge. The Saïd Business School [SBS] combines a world-class business education with a world-class university environment. SBS aims to tackle world-scale problems. This has always been a passion of mine.”

“I hope to build Emergent and the MH Foundation into scalable and sustainable continental enterprises,” he said.

He said he knows that in order to get there, he still has much to learn. “I am convinced that through the Oxford MBA, generously funded by the Pershing Square Scholarship and the SBS – I will build the skills and the experiences I need to take my endeavours to the next level.”