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Thursday, 01 October 2020

Engineering lecturers obtain Doctoral degrees

FRUITFUL TRAJECTORY: Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering lecturers, Dr Desiree Jaftha and Dr Lucrecia Valentine celebrating their graduation with Cranefield College Principal, Prof Pieter Steyn. FRUITFUL TRAJECTORY: Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering lecturers, Dr Desiree Jaftha and Dr Lucrecia Valentine celebrating their graduation with Cranefield College Principal, Prof Pieter Steyn.

Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering lecturers, Dr Desiree Jaftha and Dr Lucrecia Valentine both recently graduated with a PhD in Commerce and Administration at Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management.

Jaftha and Valentine committed to taking on their PhD journey together in 2017. This created a rare opportunity of having someone “by my side who had a deep understanding of what I was dealing with,” Jaftha says.  The pair became each other’s critiques, to ensure the best quality output of their work. “We stood by each other in the most difficult moments and made sure that despite privation, we would cross this finish line together,” she states.

Jaftha’s research title was: A quality-based risk framework for the clothing and textile industry in South Africa.  It focused on developing a quality-based explicit risk framework for compliance with the ISO9001:2015 standard. This standard requires an organisation to specifically plan the actions to mitigate all kinds of risks. The concept of risk-based thinking is aimed at mitigating current and future risks. These risk requirements satisfy customer, statutory and regulatory requirements as well as creating resilience and a sound basis for sustainable development.

The former factory worker says: “There were a number of factors that presented challenges along the way. My PhD journey was a trying experience but at the same time one of much joy, learning, and enlightenment. It was one of the milestones in my career that needed to be reached.”

Valentine concurs with Jaftha and says all journeys have detours, inclines, hairpin bends, potholes, and more. “In retrospect, all the bends made my journey all the more adventurous and certainly very memorable. It seemed as if there would never be a breakthrough in my doctoral journey, but by God’s grace, unmerited and undeserved favour, I was able to complete. This journey has been one of the most challenging I have embarked on, but with commitment, perseverance, and support from my loved ones, I arrived at my envisaged destination.”

Her research title was: An approach to quality management to stimulate growth and competitiveness for small fresh produce farmers in the Western Cape, South Africa. It focused on the agricultural industry. She says small fresh produce farmers in the Western Cape and South Africa cannot on an equal footing compete for commercial contracts with large retailers, as they do not comply with the set quality and or food safety standards.

“Reciprocally, the research objective was to develop a ‘Quality Management Framework’ to serve as a performance management approach for small fresh produce farmers, to facilitate competitiveness on an equal basis with large commercial farmers. It was rather challenging to find a traditional university who understood my mix of qualifications and therefore acceptance was not that easy.”

Valentine says: “I am grateful for having a “study buddy”. We started our journey together and despite having variable paces, we crossed the finish line at the same time. There were times when we complained about unreasonable demands and inexplicable challenges that life tossed at us, but we supported each other throughout our individual journeys... Thank you, Dr Desiree Jaftha, I believe my journey would have been significantly harder, lonelier and less exciting, without you.”

Valentine’s interaction with farmers made her realise that there is a need for engagement on the exchange of best practices and the forging of value-adding relationships. Jaftha adds that amongst her future aspirations is to supervise doctoral students, particularly women, to help them complete their PhD degrees.

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

Email: boyceap@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.