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IABC Excel Award Winner 2014


23 October 2014



 IABC Africa is pleased to announce that professor Jonathan Jansen is the 2014 recipient of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Africa Excellence in Communication Leadership (EXCEL) Award. This is one of the highest honours that IABC Africa can bestow on a person. The award is given to a senior figure who has proven his or her ability to lead through effective communication.


“Prof Jansen is recognized for the excellent leadership role he continues to play by communicating effectively with all stakeholders of the University of the Free State, especially during tough times. He has not only played a unifying role during racial tension on campus, but he has also made a huge contribution to scholarly excellence and trans-cultural understanding in our country,” said Sophia Dower, outgoing chairperson of IABC Africa at its 21st conference in Cape Town.


“There are three things I have learnt about leadership in the business of education on campuses and in communities emerging from unequal and divided histories. Firstly, words matter. Words can heal, hurt and even kill – a lesson learnt from Northern Ireland, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. It is the solemn responsibility of leaders, therefore, whether in militant songs or in dramatic performances, to harness words for the sake of healing,” prof. Jansen said.

“Secondly the spoken word is sometimes less effective in communication than other symbolic actions such as a hugging student or flowers expressing gratitude.”

“Thirdly, words are interpreted – they do not speak for themselves. This makes communication very difficult when words are received by the angry or reckless to fit the prejudices of the listener. This means that communication with the communities you are privileged to serve, is something you engage in day in and night out. It is a commitment over time,” he concluded.


One of the main requirements for selection as an Excel Award winner is a personal, humorous and selfless communication style – a style that resonates with diverse groups within broader audiences. The award is made to a person who is not an IABC member, but who is a captain of industry and who spends time speaking with stakeholders around the world.

Another requirement is that the recipient should be engaged in real-time announcements and discussions. The role of a leader in communicating effectively with internal and external stakeholders during tough times, is crucial to long-term success. The leader is charged with helping people understand how difficult times are affecting stakeholders at large. With the growth of social media, there are now even more tools available for leaders to reach their constituents.



Past winners of the IABC EXCEL Award include:

·    Michael Jordaan – chairman of Mxit who served as the chief executive officer of First National Bank and executive committee member of the First Rand Banking group.

·    Mervyn King – former judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa. He is best known for chairing the King Committee on Corporate Governance, which issued three comprehensive reports endorsing an integrated an inclusive approach to corporate  governance in South Africa.

·    Dr Theuns Eloff – vice-chancellor of North West University,  chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and chairman of Higher Education South Africa.

·    Norman Mbazima – chief executive officer of Kumba Iron Ore Limited and non-executive director of Exxaro Resources Limited.




Prof. Jonathan Jansen is vice-chancellor and rector of the University of the Free State and president of the South African Institute of Race Relations. He holds a PhD from Stanford University, an MS degree from Cornell University and honorary doctorates from various universities across the world. He is an astute author of various books and a columnist for both and English and Afrikaans newspaper. In 2014 the University of the Western Cape recognized him as an outstanding Alumni who has made a significant contribution to education and towards nation building in South Africa. He recently received the Humanitarian Award at the Jewish Achiever Awards.

Prof Jonathan Jansen

About IABC
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organisational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 14,000 members in 90 countries. For more information, visit 


Issued by IABC Africa

For all media enquiries please contact: Marié Venter at email: info@iabc.co.za

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