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Time matters: Going beyond 9 to 5 and getting the right culture

Mark Smith Landscape (1)



In this episode of the Business Unusual Podcast we’re joined by the Director of Stellenbosch Business School, Prof. Mark Smith, who shares his insights on the four-day work week, gender equality and organisational culture. 

“... we need to encourage our academics to have to speak to a wider group of people that makes universities a relevant place and relevant source of information to the wider society and do societal good,” Prof. Smith tells Topco Media CEO, Ralf Fletcher.

Prof. Smith likens gender equality to a "moving target," cautioning against complacency when there’s improvement in one area, as gaps may emerge elsewhere. The conversation extends to the evolving nature of work, where Prof. Smith discusses the four-day work week and hybrid working models. Time emerges as a unifying factor, with scarcity being a common thread that “binds us all”. 

Before assuming the role of Director at Stellenbosch Business School, Prof. Smith served as the Dean of Faculty from 2016 to 2020 at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France. His extensive tenure at Grenoble Ecole de Management also includes roles such as Doctoral School Director (2013-2016) and Associate Professor (2007-2012).


Key takeaways to listen out for in this podcast:

  1. “... national cultures can be overridden by organisational cultures.”
  2. “If you don’t manage culture it’s going to be there anyway”
  3. “... different organisations will have different cultures that will be based on the founder’s character and personality..”
  4. “The most successful companies would have been managing their culture for a long time through how they onboard people, through how they tell stories about the organisation, who they celebrate…”
  5. You can’t say you trust employees but then have rules and policies in place that show that you don’t trust them
  6. “South African organisations have something to teach the rest of the world.”
  7. Everyone can benefit from gender equality - not just women
  8. Gender norms also constrain men
  9. “... gender equality is like a moving target.” - Improvement in one area doesn’t mean we need to get complacent because gaps will form elsewhere
  10. “Time is really the thing that binds us all together in terms of its scarcity”
  11. The four day work week and hybrid models of working are going to look different depending on what works best for organisations in different sectors - there is no perfect model


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