Philip Myburgh From Roodepoor t to New York City
workplace caught me unaware and I was not prepared for what it took to land a job.” He eventually started his career in Strategy consulting with Ernst & Young, and aggressively pursued opportunities in the United States, despite being told these were impossible to get. “About 18 months after I started working, E&Y won a global transformation program with The Coca-Cola Company. I wormed my way into an interview and two weeks later I was invited to join the programme team in Atlanta, Georgia.” After marrying Sandra, they both hunted for positions in New York City, where they relocated after a year of moving to Atlanta. “Over time, our careers took us to Africa, Asia and Europe, yet we always found our way back to New York City, where we currently reside. New York City is our ideological home and a logical evolution from our beginnings in Johannesburg.” Looking ahead, Myburgh believes that Africa holds potential solutions to many of the problems the world is facing today. “While there are obvious challenges, I anticipate that Africa will enter a growth period. My PhD is focused on leadership and disruptive change in Africa and is essentially a ‘bridge’ back to Africa. At the same time, my wife is managing a social impact fund benefitting Southern Africa. We anticipate that in future we will spend more time doing development programmes in Africa.”
Philip Myburgh, currently Head of People Experience, Design and Delivery for American International Group in New York, found his time at the University of Johannesburg to be a personal revolution.
going to university would unlock those opportunities and bring purpose. And it did.” At university, Myburgh leveraged the opportunities it offered. “I joined a rich variety of interest groups, sang in the University Choir, participated in community events and attended almost all the cultural offerings that UJ hosted. I embraced this time to expose and define myself beyond my origin.” Although he didn’t enjoy law as much as he had hoped, he realises, looking back, that he may have been too immature to appreciate the gravitas of what it took to prepare for a legal career. “I remember very little of what I studied during my first four years of university. Yet, my participation in organized student life, the cultural exposure, and the social learning and interaction laid the foundation for my being and future life.” Myburgh, who met his wife, Sandra, while at university, graduated with a BCom Law, an Honours in Industrial Relations and a Master’s in Human Resource Management. He later did an MBA at INSEAD in Singapore and is currently completing a PhD in Leadership and Performance at UJ. After university, it took him a while to get his first job. “When I started looking, I seemed to be over- qualified and under-experienced. Every good job opportunity at that time seemed to require a CA with three years of working experience. I share this because the difficulty of transitioning from university to
Myburgh, who grew up in Roodepoort, was raised by his
teacher parents to value learning and education highly. “I was a gifted student and my parents sacrificed much of their personal time and means to get me to participate in learning opportunities.” As a parent, he now realises how little he appreciated their sacrifices at that time. “I was a late bloomer and, to my father’s disappointment, terrible at team sports. I could, however, always differentiate myself with schoolwork, although this did little for my socialization. I often felt somewhat disconnected at school, which set a low baseline for my university experience.” It was always expected that Myburgh would go to university. Because of his academic talent, he could almost study anything that he wanted to. It came down to interest. “I was interested in business and dabbled in debating at school, so I enrolled for a BCom Law at what was then the Rand Afrikaans University.” Although Myburgh did not have specific dreams about what he wanted to do in life, he hoped that there would be more to life than what he had been exposed to at that time. I knew I wanted an international career and I hoped that
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