Publish or perish - Dr Tchereni

Article   Hazviperi Mbizi   April 2, 2019
In a quest to give chance to young intelligent and qualified people who are capable of handling high positions, The Faculty of Commerce at The Polytechnic has a 39-year-old associate professor as its new dean.

The new dean is none other than Associate Professor Betchani Henry Mbuya Mpungatete Tchereni.

Educational Background

Dr Tchereni started his journey from Nsanje Secondary school where he completed his secondary school education. He was a strategic student which saw him passing and getting selected to the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

“I was selected to go to Chichiri Secondary which was a day secondary school but my father never believed in day secondary schools. That is when he managed to find a place for me at Nsanje Secondary school,” he recalled.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social science, majoring in economics, in 2004, he started working as a market researcher at the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom). He said that he never liked the job because the job description had nothing like research in it.

Growing up, Dr Tchereni aspired to be a professor; even when he was young, he used to call himself one. When an opening came up in 2005 at the Polytechnic, he was offered a job as a staff associate. Later, he decided to go and further his studies, by getting a master’s degree in economics at Chancellor College. 

After graduating in 2008, he was promoted to the position of lecturer and deputy dean of commerce respectively.

“I thought I wanted to grow, so I thought of doing a Ph.D. in South Africa in 2011. I did some research; I jumped the senior lecturer part and became an associate professor in 2013,” Dr Tchereni explained. 

After completing his Ph.D. he decided to work at the North West University in South Africa as an extraordinary associate professor and director of research before he came back in order to learn a few things namely:

  • How people run business schools.
  • How things are done at other universities.
  • How to help the Faculty of Commerce do better in its operations, not only at Polytechnic but UNIMA as a whole. 
  • How people pump out research articles and get their college’s ranking to be higher in the world. 
  • How people negotiate for projects and mobilize resources.

Work Experience as the Dean of Commerce

One of the foremost things he planned to do was to convince the Polytechnic management to introduce performance management system, which he later discovered that it had already been in the pipeline but was not yet implemented.  Dr Tchereni is working hard so that his faculty is the first to pilot it.

“I have encouraged people in my faculty to write articles journals because I believe as members of the academia we should be in the forefront to publish or perish,” he said.

In his position as dean of commerce, he says he believes in running the faculty as a business. In this regard, together with the Polytechnic Management Center, three projects have been won, one of which is a continuous project with Old Mutual Malawi.

Dr Tchereni explained that the faculty has a good working relationship with the industry, whereby project people are being trained at the Polytechnic Management Centre.

Vision

Having obtained a Ph.D. at the age of 33, Dr Tchereni wishes to see five or six lecturers go and study for Ph.Ds. during his term as dean of commerce.

He also wants to implement a program whereby the faculty should be able to produce twenty journal articles every year for publication.

 It is also his wish to see the Faculty of Commerce work on five different projects every year. This is going to be implemented, as it is already in the pipeline that professionals should conduct workshops in teaching staff members to be conversant in different areas.

One of the major areas being concentrated on is on how to come up with bankable research proposals.

It is also his goal that government and the private sector should seek contracts with the faculty in areas to do with strategic planning, auditing, financial analysis and consultancy.

Right now, proposals have been sent around for projects, which could assist in raising about 400 million Kwacha for the construction of a school of business building where consultancies will be taking place. Other corporate organizations like Reserve Bank have already shown interest to support the cause.

Achievements

Dr Tchereni is already part of the team, which is spearheading the introduction of a bachelor’s degree program in taxation and the master’s degree in commerce and finance.

Apart from these achievements, he was also part of the team that directed the introduction of degree programs in procurement and logistics, auditing, tourism and entrepreneurship.

Challenges

There is always resistance when trying to change the mindsets of people who are used to a way of doing things. He explained that change must be managed in all aspects in order to improve and be at par with the advanced technologies. 

Lack of skills like proposal writing is one of the challenges that is being addressed now by the proposal writing workshops.

Advice to fresh graduates and students

Dr Tchereni said that growth is constant; it comes with responsibilities and responsibilities come with commitment of resources which, most of the time, are money, time and opportunities.

Time and opportunity can never be replaced; once they are gone, they are gone.  

He said; “It is better to do things and be done.  Discouragements are always there. Critical thinking needs to be developed to a certain level. From Bachelors go for Masters, dig deeper, until you attain a PhD.  Once you attain the PhD, you become academically mature.  Academic achievements always pay off, sooner or later.”

Hobbies

Dr Tchereni quotes the late former president, Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika, an economist, who once said, “[the] only man who has free time is a dead man.” 

To relax and distress, he plays the guitar, works out at the gym, jogs and meditate.

Quote

His favorite quote is by William Foster who said, “Character is Victory.” He observes that experience, character, and wealth need to be built following a proper procedure—no shortcuts. 

“Work for everything that needs to be achieved; do not opt for the shortest ways to getting things. Education is important, as is character, respect and experience.” he advised.

The Faculty of Commerce, head of department, Fredrick Mangwaya Banda, observed that the new dean has been active. He has come up with new ideas, which makes him believe that within a few years they will see a very transformed faculty. He added that Dr Tchereni has engaged lecturers in conducting research, writing, and publishing of journals. In addition, he has encouraged people to go for Ph.Ds.

The principal, Professor Grant Kululanga, explained that when the faculty met to select a dean, management did not hesitate to approve Dr Tchereni.

“Due to his good performance and his hardworking spirit, which made him complete his Ph.D., in good time, we knew that he is the right person for the job,” Kululanga said. 

With his good record as communicated through Professor Globbler from North West University after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Polytechnic,  management thought that being a young man of 39, Dr Tchereni could be someone who could also inspire young people that they can achieve anything in life if they work diligently for it. 


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