Rob Jeffrey, 80, recently received his PhD from the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
According to Jeffrey, he never intended to earn the degree, according to Global University News. He was recently working as a consultant in South Africa, conducting evaluations of energy sources. A PhD, however, came as an unexpected bonus as he dove into the literature on energy sources and how they interact with the economy.
His research was described as “an independent economic analysis of the electricity generation industry in South Africa and an assessment of the best course of action that the country can take to develop its electricity generation resources”.
His four-year investigation looked at how a nation’s economic growth is impacted by the dependability of the power supply, whether it comes from fossil fuels or renewable sources.
Jeffrey expects that his research will have a positive social impact because it was conducted at a time when load-shedding in South Africa has destroyed the country’s economy.
The doctorate is titled, ‘Assessing the actual costs of alternative electricity-generating technologies in South Africa in line with its economic development requirements’.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, in October 1942, Jeffrey was born. His parents were both educators. He went to St John’s College in the city, where his father taught science and served as deputy headmaster.
Upon graduation from high school, he pursued a degree in applied mathematics (with distinction) and mathematical statistics at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He earned this degree in 1965. Then he received a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in economics at Cambridge University in the UK. He returned and successfully finished his teacher’s diploma and master’s degree in business leadership (MBL) at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 1976.
After a long career, Jeffrey departed in 2016 from his position as managing director of the economic consulting firm Econometrix. His research on the economy, energy, and business has persuaded him that South Africa should prioritize a decrease in poverty, an increase in employment, and a decrease in inequality as its three key goals.
According to Jeffrey, this can be accomplished through boosting the nation’s economic expansion by increasing the amount of electricity available to the mining, manufacturing, and other industries.
“Having written much on it [economic growth through reliable electricity], I decided if it can be a PhD … so be it. But the PhD, itself, was not the prime motive. I have been involved in business for 50 years starting in finance, moving to work in construction and energy evaluation and work on mergers, acquisitions, and capital projects in a variety of industries.“When I decided on retirement to write up the knowledge that I had acquired I [followed the advice of] many senior people who encouraged me.”
The choice to seek a PhD, though, was ultimately his own, according to Jeffrey, who also wanted to focus deliberately on a project after losing the use of his legs and being wheelchair-bound.
Despite earning a PhD, Jeffrey emphasized that it’s crucial to understand that South Africa has a huge need for technically skilled workers who don’t necessarily need a degree.
Jeffrey stated that he decided to pursue his PhD at the University of Johannesburg because he had heard great things about the university’s commitment to its students.
“I was lucky enough to work under Professor Andre Nel of the faculty of engineering and the built environment,” said the grandfather of eight.
“One must recognise that one is learning for the rest of one’s life. As you follow your career, you have to learn and remain on top. I happen to have increased my knowledge in business – and finance subjects were vital to carry me forward.”
What will happen to Jeffrey next?
“One never stops furthering one’s education. I will continue with my interest in energy and economics for the benefit of South Africa and South Africans. I will also pursue my general interest in international and domestic economics. I will also pursue my hobbies and interests in photography, astronomy and bridge.”
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