When Dr Pfano Mashau joined UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) through its Regional and Local Economic Development Young Researchers programme in 2013 his mission was to get his master’s degree and secure a job in industry.
Fast forward to today and he has just been awarded his PhD and is enjoying being a Management lecturer at the GSB&L – all at the age of just 26!
‘Getting to be part of the Development Lecturer programme at the GSB&L in 2014 was great because not only did I get mentorship in teaching but I also got to learn about publishing research and to finish my PhD,’ said Mashau.
Supervised by Professor Ziska Fields, Mashau’s doctoral thesis was titled: University Innovation Centres as Drivers of Entrepreneurship and Agglomeration Economies.
The study explored how innovation centres support entrepreneurs as well as the benefits of having entrepreneurs housed in the same space. His study involved five of South Africa’s top research universities.
When he is not exploring entrepreneurship and innovation, Mashau is thinking about home in the rural Tshisaulu village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo and how he can get the youth in his community to study further.
‘When I am home I chat with learners from my old high school about opportunities available to them. I also talk to my friends and anyone feeling trapped in their jobs about postgraduate studies,’ said Mashau.
‘I come from a family that prioritises education – my mom and I both have postgraduate qualifications, and my sister is pursuing hers. My uncles and mentors who are entrepreneurs are always pushing me to study further and I made a deal with one of them that when I get my PhD he should start his. I have delivered so it’s now time for him to do the same!’
To clear his mind, Mashau enjoys long distance cycling. He participated in the challenging 105km aQuelle Tour Durban earlier this year and is looking forward to the Amashova 2017 later this month.
Words by: Thandiwe Jumo