Congratulations to Dr Talifhani Khubana, who completed his PhD in Business Management and graduated during the April 2021 graduation period. Dr Khubana shared the story of his amazing PhD journey.


Hailing from the fertile soil of a mountain-locked village in Venda, Limpopo, Dr Khubana is the third of five boys born to uneducated and unemployed parents, Mr T.S Khubana and Mrs T.S Ramvuvhelo-Khubana. While growing up, things were not easy for him, as the community in which he was born depended on government grants and subsistence farming for survival, while commerce and entrepreneurship were not common activities in the region. Rather than succumbing to the many challenges he faced, Dr Khubana saw them as an opportunity and used them as a platform to be the “defining difference”, not just in his family, but to his community at large. Dr Khubana credits the generosity of Mr Ratshikhopha, a member of his community who consistently helps individuals achieve their dreams without claiming any of the spotlight for himself. Speaking on his roots and his achievements, Dr Khubana said, “I reached the pinnacle of academic achievement in honour of the giants on whose shoulders I stand, and for those who will come after me. This is about reminding them that not only are the dreams of an African child valid, but also within reach for those who dare to be different. I believe the most transformative instrument at human disposal is a mind that is keen to learn.”

Dr Khubana’s academic journey began at the University of Venda, where he obtained a BCom Accounting degree before completing his BCom Honours in Accounting through UNISA. It was during his BCom Honours graduation that his late father sparked the zeal in him to attain a PhD, when he stood up in a silence-filled hall and said, “That one ascending the stage is my son, I will die peacefully once he is dressed in the red regalia”. With the encouragement of his parents, Dr Khubana pursued an MBA through Regent Business School and then went on to qualify as a Business Accountant in Practice (SA), Certified Financial Officer (SA), Tax Practitioner (SA), Professional Accountant (SA) and Independent Reviewer (SA). With his academic and professional strengths in strategy, forecasting and decision making, Dr Khubana’s qualifications tended to gravitate towards the field of management sciences, which is also the field in which he has reached the pinnacle of his academic career – his PhD.


The title of Dr Khubana’s PhD thesis is “Perceptions regarding shared value within the South African mining industry”. The study investigated the perceptions on Shared Value (SV), as well as its antecedents and outcomes within the mining industry in South Africa. The empirical results confirmed that automation, innovation (through innovation for value chain inclusivity, automation and business model innovation, infrastructure development) and employment conditions are the antecedents of SV. The study illustrated three approaches of SV: reconceiving the product/service and markets, reimagining value chain productivity and development of the enabling environment. Furthermore, the study revealed competitive advantage and sustainability performance as the outcomes of SV. Therefore, SV simultaneously catalyses solutions to profitability and addressing the challenges affecting communities. The findings of the study will contribute to the development of a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors, while at the same time guiding policymakers and the mining industry in the development of policies and strategies.

Dr Khubana started his PhD in 2017, while employed as a CFO at one of the constitutional institutions. Due to his high volume of work and the strenuous time demands of a PhD, he did not continue his studies in 2018. However, in the year that followed, Dr Khubana made the difficult decision to sacrifice his CFO position and paycheck in his pursuit of knowledge and driven by his quest to find his purpose. On top of these commitments, Dr Khubana also runs two successful companies, being POV Group and LEAD 360 Afrika Innovation and Research.


While not coming from a wealthy family in monetary terms, Dr Khubana considers himself fortunate, as his family understood his vision and they carried it as if they were only born to facilitate its realisation. “I could not ask for better destiny-helpers than them, for they allow my star to shine. They sacrificed everything, including the security of the paycheck. Giant purpose produces giant motivation and sacrifices. Somehow, they understood that I need to contribute in some way that would live on long after I am long gone.” In addition, Dr Khubana credits and thanks his supervisor, Prof Chantal Rootman, and co-supervisor, Prof Elroy Smith, for their support during his PhD studies. “The pursuit of my purpose and my vision would have remained just a dream had it not been for the support received from my supervisors. They epitomise true greatness, for they did not hold back from empowering me in the best way they know how. While one poured oil into my lamp, the other shielded the spark from winds that sought to extinguish it.”


Dr Khubana shared some advice for current and aspiring PhD scholars, by mentioning that the pursuit of a PhD requires two important attributes: the grace of humility and the art of resilience. “I believe that everyone’s journey is different, however, what makes great people is starting out and aligning their steps with their purpose, while appreciating that the finest moments occur when they step out of comfort zones. I believe that everyone’s vision and purpose is measured by the sacrifices they are prepared to make.


“Through this journey, I realised that we all have it in us to become the greatest version of ourselves, while also contributing to change. As Albert Einstein says, ‘the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know’.”

Contact information
Prof Chantal Rootman
Professor in Business Management
Tel: 041 504 4063