Business Leadership

EPISODE 6 with Dr Suarabh Sinha PART 1

EPISODE 6 with Dr Suarabh Sinha PART 1

Prof Suarabh Sinha is the Deputy Vice Chancellor University of Johannesburg. He is currently finishing up his term as an executive dean of the faculty of engineering and built environment at the University of Joberg. He formally served as the director of the current MLE institute of micro electronics from the University of Pretoria from which he graduated with a Phd in electronic engineering. Pro Sinha obtained his B.Eng, M.Eng and a PHD Degrees in electronic engineering in the University of Pretoria.

He is the recipient of the university of Pretoria laureate award in 2010. The SAIEE Engineer of the year award. He has written over 90 journal articles and conference papers. He is the Author of 3 books. From 2009 Prof Sinhna together with his predecessors at the university of Johannesburg increase research output from 25 research outputs to 364 research outputs per year.

Under his leadership as an executive dean of Engineering, the UJ faculty of engineering is now ranked number 1 in Africa in Engineering and Technology according to the times higher education.

Prof Suarabh Sinha

While still at the university of Pretoria he got the chance to work in various areas of management. It was interesting because he was managing people but a smaller group of people.  The key accomplishment they had as a research group was at the research output. Although they realized that the circuit design plan couldn’t have been done in isolation, so there was need to collaborate with other groups from different countries.

They carry out the design here but the prototyping will take place in places like the US or other countries. When it was time to move to the University of Johannesburg as the dean of the faculty, it seems that there were a couple of good practices, so it was a good idea to scale. Some of the practices he had learnt at the university f Pretoria as well as others learnt from global engagement and scaled it into the faculty. This led to the increase of the research unit from about 150 units to about 364 research units as at 2016.


Quest for diversity

When he joined the faculty, there was only one woman that was part of the academic leadership team. But right now, there about 40% women as part of the heads of departments. Diversity has a role to play in innovation. There is no way you can build innovation without diversity. This diversity can either be;

  • Gender diversity
  • Regional diversity

Building teams and trust

As a university or a large cooperate, most have very high level of bureaucracy. One can try to attain 100% of bureaucracy as one way and you can be fully compliant and you can look like the black and white ink on a paper.

The second choice is to be more colorful in approach and say that we will get to 80 % of compliance but the last 20% will be compliant, but we will try to do certain things differently so that we will pilot things that will become the next area of our competitive edge. This does not only apply to teaching and learning but also in terms of building for innovations.

This is to build trust and have a micro perspective about the way that the faculty operates and to empower the department heads, heads of school and advice teams so I give them a lot of authority and I devote a lot of what would technically be done at faculty level and take an approach of oversight rather than to micro manage and develop people.

People are mostly used to instructions. It is usually better to inspire than to instruct.



Discipline is one important factor that every successful leader must have. We mustn’t let other unimportant factors deter us from what we have willed to do. This can also be applied with the people we work with.

It is important for leaders and managers to understand and appreciate that the point of effectiveness for one will be very different for another. Therefore is important to appreciate what another person is best disciplined at.

Open Mindedness

You have to be open minded in understanding your point of effectiveness and the conditions for effectiveness for others. You do not necessarily need to change others to be like you, but being able to adapt and understand what it requires for a bigger team to be effective.

One must understand that a leader is a perpetual learner. They are focused on self-development and personal growth. This discipline of continual learning will speak volumes to those within your organization. It shows that you understand that you don’t know it all.


This is a very important aspect that helps to build a person. Sometimes you think you are doing these because it is something you can do to change the world, in most cases you change yourself.

Why you should volunteer?

Volunteering leads to a professional development and you help meet people that are like minded. Not just nationally, but globally as well.

Volunteering brings together a diverse range of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be a rich source of inspiration and an excellent way to develop your interpersonal skills. Volunteering also offers an incredible networking opportunity. Not only will you develop lasting personal and professional relationships but it is also a great way to learn about people from all walks of life, different environments, and new industries. Networking is an exciting benefit of volunteering and can have a positive impact on your life of the life of those you help or serve.


This fourth industrial revolution is classified under three categories.

  1. Steam engine
  2. Electricity
  3. Computing and automation

The aim is to bring about the fourth industrial revolution in the context of sustainable development. The objective is to position the university as a lead entity through the 4th industrial revolution for sustainable development to help combat poverty and inequality.

This 4th industrial revolution unifies us through our strategy. This strategy which is approved by the universities council which is of global excellence and stature is supported by 6 strategic objectives

  1. Excellence in research and innovation
  2. Excellence in teaching and learning
  3. International profile for global excellence and stature
  4. Having to be an institution that strives to be student friendly, living and learning environment
  5. Be an institution of national and global reputation and
  6. Have an institution that is fit for global excellence and stature. Fitness in term of human resources and transformation

These objectives are not just about the 4th industrial revolution alone. There is also a look at job creation side by side with the 4th industrial revolution.


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