Manfred Braune

I love the outdoors, nature and the ocean, where I find myself a lot. This combined with a love for science and creativity led me to a career in engineering and green building design. In my role as Director: Environmental Sustainability I now have the ability to combine my love for the environment, science, creativity and the built environment, where I oversee the delivery of the University of Cape Town’s overarching environmental sustainability strategy in all spheres of the university.

Big Idea(s) for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education

What does the world need most right now?

The world needs action. There is unfortunately still way too much talking going on about solving critical environmental issues and too little action, in all sectors but especially in higher education (at least that is my view of the situation in South Africa). The world doesn’t need another committee or conference, but rather the world needs higher education institutions to dedicate some of their time and resources towards tackling critical environmental issues, directly through the campus facilities and the campus community (this is obviously besides the research and teaching that goes on).

The world also needs more sharing to enable some of the action where resources are constrained. Some countries and universities have a lot more than others. Are there ways that universities that are well-resourced can establish green campus partner programmes that can provide support for periods of time? For example, a 6-month programme to share a senior resource at another university to support their green campus initiatives.

Leadership and Inspiration

What does excellent leadership look like to you?

Here are a few of the qualities of excellent leadership that stand out to me:

  1. Creativity: excellent leaders are creative and don’t simply follow somebody else’s plan, but they creatively come up with solutions that can tackle the problems that nobody else has been able to overcome.
  2. Courage: excellent leaders have the courage to go against the grain/mainstream, when everyone says do this, they are prepared to step up and do something different or question the mainstream if they know it will produce a better result.
  3. Humility: excellent leaders are humble and quick to acknowledge all their team members and the incredible work that everyone does to contribute to a project’s success, and respects and welcomes contributions from all kinds of diverse backgrounds.
  4. Honesty: excellent leaders are honest with themselves and with others about who they are and what they are capable of, including setting boundaries where appropriate and acknowledging failures/mistakes.

Tenacity and Perseverance

What would you tell others who are facing obstacles in their work?

We all typically face some kinds of obstacles in our work and life. I like to face them head on, but with plenty of preparation and planning beforehand, and, if you are a person of faith in God, like me, some prayer. So, collect as much information about the obstacle and gather ideas from others, and come up with a plan to tackle the obstacle. If the plan fails, try again. If the plan fails again, try another plan. Sometimes it helps to step away from the obstacle for a while and come back in future to tackle it, and for some reason then it can be overcome. The key is to not let the obstacle overcome you or to defeat you, but to keep trying or to shift your focus onto something else (if possible) and come back later.

Fun Fact

What is your favourite activity in your spare time?

One of my favourite things to do is surfing or swimming on a wave in the ocean, preferably without a wetsuit, even if it’s cold – I love the feeling of gliding over or through beautiful waves with the beach and the mountains next to me, celebrating God’s beautiful creation. If I can’t do that, then I’ll grab my skateboard and try to get as close to that as possible on the pavement! 🙂 Besides that, I love hanging out with my wife and two daughters, as well as with friends, and playing soccer and field hockey.