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Together let us help build this beloved South Africa – UJ honorary doctorate recipient, Robert Michael “Bobby” Godsell

“Each generation faces its own challenges and you are called to design a new order for both identity and relationships. Encourage each other when the hill looks impossible. Together help us build this beloved South Africa.” This was the message of renowned South African businessperson, Robert Michael “Bobby” Godsell, who with a standing ovation, accepted an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Wednesday, 31 October 2018.

Professor Daneel van Lill, the Executive Dean of the University’s College of Business and Economics (CBE) said the University community takes inspiration from the wisdom and humanity that Dr Godsell exercised throughout his life in each of the executive positions that he held at national and global levels.

Dr Godsell’s inspirational leadership style, paves the way for executive management and leadership roles. These include positions as the CEO of companies such as Anglo American Corporation, AngloGold and Ashanti Limited, as well as the President of the Chamber of Mines, Chair of Business Leadership South Africa and the World Gold Council.

Prof van Lill pointed out that throughout these positions and beyond, Dr Godsell has facilitated dialogue between business, government, labour and other stakeholders. “Being the rational voice, and often the only voice, reinforcing what is ethical and morally correct is no easy assignment.

”Dr Godsell played a pivotal role in ensuring that the power of black workers was recognised in the workplace, thereby initiating the first negotiations with unions. He continues to facilitate issues of collective interest, to business, the economy and society as a whole – driven to reconnect national leaders with the people of South Africa.”

In his acceptance speech, Dr Godsell highlighted some of the salient points around the ongoing debate about land reform in South Africa. “Land,” he said, “was taken away through armed conquest (and) then laws were used to restrict access to 87% of the surface area of our country to white people. This wound must be healed,” said Dr Godsell.

Prof van Lill concluded: “Dr Godsell counts amongst the most capable and connected South African business leaders. He is anchored in Africa, he inspires others to transform and serve the future of South Africa and our continent. We want our students to learn from him, to hear him debate and inspire. The University, in particular CBE is honoured by DrGodsell’s acceptance of the honorary doctorate. The commitment of UJ’s CBE to quality education and training will be enhanced through association with Dr Godsell.”

Dr Godesell is the fourth recipient of an honorary doctorate conferred by the University during the 2018 graduation seasons.

In March, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng received an honorary doctorate in recognition of his pioneering commitment to serving humankind by upholding the independence of the judiciary and by promoting access to justice in tangible ways.

In February, the University acknowledged Prof Robert Fry Engle, a world-renowned economist and the 2003 Nobel laureate in economics for his pioneering discovery of a method for analysing unpredictable movements in financial market prices and interest rates.

In April, South Africa’s foremost Ndebele artist and international icon, Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu was honoured for her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur and her role in connecting local and global worlds through her art.


Robert Michael Godsell
Mr Robert Michael “Bobby” Godsell
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