Oliver Naiker: Resident of the city of gold and project management extraordinaire

Mark Talmage-Rostron
October 13, 2022 · 8 min read

When you live in a city where everything happens at 100 miles per hour, it stands to reason that you’ll live your life in the same manner. Oliver Naiker is always on the go with family and work commitments, but that does not mean that he can’t make time for his MBA.

Talking to Oliver Naiker, a proud South African and highly motivated individual who is never at home with accepting the status quo for too long, you soon come to realize that this is a man that is a hair’s breadth from taking the world by storm. Sure, he has his feet on the ground, but he has his sights set on becoming a highly successful employee and inspirational leader at one of the biggest banks in South Africa where he currently works. He’s already an Agile Coach and Trainer there but is also looking for bigger and better things.

In relation to the status quo, Oliver tells us that he has wanted to do his MBA for a while but was not sure about a few things. Firstly, he questioned if it was still as important to do an MBA these days as has been over the last decade or so, and secondly, he was debating if he should be spending stupid amounts of money to earn one.

He tells us, “Yeah, I was not totally sold on the MBA thing, and I had so much on my plate seemingly all the time that I decided to put it on the back burner. I did come to realize that it was going to be a necessity one day if I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, but there were lots of hurdles in the way. Then I discovered Nexford.”

Nexford was meant to be

Somewhere around January of this year, Oliver was perusing internationally recognised universities to do his MBA. Quite by chance Nexford popped up telling him that he could do an American International MBA in his own country, and that piqued his interest immediately. He clicked on the link and was thrilled that what was promised matched what was on the website. Game on!

He says, “At first, I was looking to go to a traditional brick and mortar university but that had its cost and geographical challenges. I came across Nexford and although I was impressed, I needed to know if it was reputable. I looked at the testimonial and graduation videos and that put any doubt to bed. Once I had decided that Nexford was legitimate, I looked at the fees and that was probably the deal clincher for me as other MBAs in South Africa would have costed me about R250,000. That was never going to happen.”

Luckily, at Nexford, cost is never an issue. Oliver found out that his MBA would not cost a fortune, and because it was pay as you go, it was not only affordable, but easy to budget for. He took the idea to his bosses at work as he wanted them to partially fund the MBA as he believed it would be in both of their best interests. Sadly, the response was not positive at all, and in fact they tried to sway him toward doing his MBA at another time.

Oliver remembers the initial disappointment saying, “I actually felt quite hurt. Sort of like geez, I haven’t even started at this place yet, but these people are writing it off without even giving it a chance. I believe in underdog stories, so I decided to ignore the Nay Sayers and give it a go. I was now even more determined to prove to them that Nexford was the right choice. They then said that they would not be paying for it, so I had to make a plan to do it myself. And that made me even more determined to succeed.”

If you want an MBA, you need to earn it

Oliver has never been one of those entitled people that just sits back and expects everything to just fall into his lap. Even though he is fairly young, he is wiser beyond his years in terms of the fact that he knows that if you want something bad enough you must make it happen yourself and you must be willing to make sacrifices and prove some people wrong along the way.

And he has made many sacrifices. As a single parent with an extremely busy job running a company, it stood to reason that Oliver was going to have to burn the midnight oil from time to time to earn his Nexford MBA. He mentions that sometimes the going was tough, but despite that, he feels that he is privileged to have the backing and support of his daughter who lives with him full time. If things were not hectic enough, he jokes that he now has a puppy to look after during the day as since Covid he mostly works from home.

Faith will always get you through

Not only will hard work and dedication get Oliver through earning his MBA in double quick time, but so too will his faith. As a Christian and a monk, he is extremely spiritual. With a smile on his face, he mentions that one day he got up and decided to shave his head and has shaved it ever since, so that takes even more time out of his busy day.

But he takes it all in his stride saying, “I decided to go down the spiritual path because before I started doing my MBA, I just felt like I didn’t have any peace in my life. I’m a huge fan of Robin Sharma. I love every single one of his books. I read the monk who sold his Ferrari and ever since then I knew that I wanted to be a monk and it’s helped me a lot. It’s calmed me, it’s centred me, and helped me to let go of my ego. And I had a huge ego.”

When pushed on how amidst all of this going on in his life he still has time to do his MBA, and based on his results so far, do it extremely well, Oliver says, “My day consists of getting up to drop my daughter off at school, coming home to work for my employer till about four or five, and then I have to put my chef hat on and cook dinner for us. We have supper together; she does her homework before I settle her in bed. I then shower and hit the books till about half past twelve.”

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Who says that men can’t multi-task?

Oliver admits that he is incredibly adept at having two laptops open and on the go at the same time.

One is for work and the other is for studying. Work is very important as Oliver is not only working for the bank, but he is also running his own business called ‘Go Agile Consulting’ that he founded and is building from the ground up. Although it has been dormant for about six months, he wants to keep the company going as having and running his own company was always his dream. So, he says that he is going to revive the company and feels that his Nexford MBA will help him to succeed in running it.

“My Nexford MBA has given me confidence, extra motivation, and new ideas to run my business better and make it more successful and profitable.”

Oliver has a never say die attitude to work and life. He tells us that he is a very perseverant person and if he wants something, he will go all out to get it and will make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. If his assignment is due at five o’clock in the morning because of the time difference, he knows that he must set his alarm and get up, sometimes at three o’clock to do the final checks of the assignment before submitting it.

He says, “I always give myself a deadline the day before, and that’s helped my marks a lot. I see I’ve been getting mostly As. I push myself hard, but my brother was telling me, you know, if you get a B, you get a B, it’s not the end of the world. But that just makes me want to work harder the next time as I want to get straight A’s. That’s just who I am. I have come from a family of academics, and I have never wanted to let them or myself down. So, I’ve got As for most of my life.”

Getting top marks helped him to get a bursary from fashion giant Edgars after they discovered that he was in the top 10% in the entire country in terms of tertiary level education and he has been doing well academically ever since.

IT is where it’s @

Oliver tells us that he has always been interested in computers and so when he saw that his brother was succeeding as an IT specialist, he wanted to follow suit. So, he did an IT degree and low and behold because he enjoyed it, he exceled at it. He liked IT because he learned whilst doing, rather than just studying it in books. This he says is why he loves Nexford because his MBA is teaching him real work skills and not useless theory.

Talking about his brother and other members of his family and how important they are to him, Oliver gets quite emotional when he speaks about his sister, a highly successful chartered accountant, and how it hurt when she upped and left to go and work in London a few months before we spoke to him. He says it broke all their hearts when she left as they are a close nit family, and his daughter is very close to their niece and nephew.

That said, Oliver is hell bent on following in her footsteps and moving to live and work in London. So, when approached for jobs, before he gets into the nitty gritty of the post, he always asks if they have an office in London. If it comes to fruition, that will be the biggest step up in his relatively young career to date. But he will have to put that on ice till his daughter turns 18.

“I almost see my success as being of paramount importance to me and my parents,” Oliver says. “Whenever I think of giving up and throwing the towel in, I like literally see my mom’s face and it brings it all back to me. I’ve seen her fight through health issues and disappointments, and I’ve seen her and my dad make incredible sacrifices for me and my siblings. I never want to let them down. As some sort of payback, I want to be able to take them over to London with me. That’s the goal.”

A Nexford MBA really opens doors

Not only has being able to get an American MBA degree 100% online without having to leave his job and family behind in South Africa, or incur masses of student debt excited Oliver, but so too is the fact that he has become somewhat of a celebrity in certain circles.

“I think after people saw my Nexford video they were fascinated about the university and how they could also benefit. I am not just saying so because I am talking to you right now, but so far, I have nothing but good things to say about you guys which has made these people extremely interested in enrolling. It’s not just me flying the flag though, I can see that Nexford is already getting a particularly good reputation in South Africa. When I graduate I am going to do a blog or a video about my Nexford experience.”

Oliver believes that once people get over the ‘if it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true’ mindset, they soon come to the realization that Nexford is both affordable and reputable, and if they don’t become a part of it, they will be missing out.

Of his experiences with Nexford to date, Oliver remarks that because the university is all about competency-based learning he is already becoming a more logical and tactical thinker. Those new skill sets are opening doors for him at work as there are divisions in the organization, such as their business division, who are starting to approach him.

He says though that he is not the complete package yet and mentions that if he has a weak point, it is on the business side of things. By his own admission, even though he has opened a business, Oliver says that he didn’t have that business acumen and the marketing skills required to make it truly succeed both locally and globally. Now he feels like he has those skills and says that he really feels like he knows what he is talking about. He can talk the talk and walk the walk now and hopes that he will be able to use his newfound transferable skills to get on that plane bound for the UK one day.

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Inspiration and perspiration

As we have already established, Oliver is a go-getter and what he sets his mind to he does well. Very well. But to get you to a point in your life where you feel like you have the world at your feet, it helps if you have some sort of inspiration to help get you there. To constantly keep reminding you that you are the real deal and you can do what you set your mind to.

For Oliver that source of inspiration came from his mum and dad. He admits that they both sacrificed a lot to get him to this point in his life.

He says, “Up to this day, I don’t know how my dad put my brother, my sister, and I through university on the salary that he had. And that is why I take education so seriously. I never want to let them down.”

In chatting with Oliver, we have no doubt that he is not about to let anyone down at all and we can’t wait to see him continue to go from strength to strength and perhaps one day, welcome him to the UK.

Seeing is believing, so check out Oliver’s video.

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About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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