Meet Jenny Engelbrecht, UJ Master’s cum laude graduate

Date: Sep 3, 2015 | News

​​Earning a Chancellor’s Medal for Marikana news reports research.

Jenny Engelbrecht nailed her Master’s studies in MCom Leadership in Performance and Change, graduating in cum laude and getting the Chancellor’s Medal at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on 11 June 2015. At the time of studying at UJ, Engelbrecht had worked for Lonmin near Rustenburg, a place that has become the talking point for South Africans, and national and international media.

During her Master’s studies at UJ, Engelbrecht completed a dissertation titled “A Stakeholder analysis of the Marikana mining incident: Implications for HR management” using news reports from the media. Her research earned her a pass in flying colours, receiving a standing ovation during her graduation ceremony at UJ.

Engelbrecht completed her studies at UJ (then Rand Afrikaans University – RAU) in BCom Industrial Psychology in 1995, taking Marketing Management as one of her major courses. She later completed her BCom Honours in Industrial Psychology also at UJ a few years later (1998-1999), followed by the Advanced Programme in OD at Unisa (2005). She received a Six Sigma Black Belt certification in 2009.

“I was the Manager: Accounts Payables and Receivables at Lonmin at the time of the Marikana incident. I had been there for six years already (but in various capacities that also included Talent Management in HR to Six Sigma Black Belt and Business Improvement Manager). I was not in HR at the time nor was I in any way involved in the strike negotiations, dealings with the media, police etc. I had to keep my own team focused on processing payments and sundry collections during the crisis period. The emotional impact of those dark days on the non-striking administrative employees was never really a topic deemed worthy of reporting in the media – and understandably so, the focus was on the striking employees (in particular the Rockdrill Operators) and their demands,” says Engelbrecht.

“During that period, there were many stories and rumours that caused concern about possible attacks on the administrative buildings, to the strike never ending and everyone losing their jobs. The hurt and pain of our colleagues who had been killed was felt across Lonmin – we all grieved for the horror of what had happened. I knew my own name would forever be attached to what had happened there, even if I was not responsible for it. The concept of finding the ‘corporate soul’ of an organisation comes to mind. It was very traumatic for everyone involved,” explains Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht describes the August 16th 2012 situation at Lonmin in Marikana because she later conducted research on it. She gathered various media news articles that were published between 1 and 24 August 2012 to understand the effect of the dispute between Lonmin and stakeholders that were concerned in the negotiations of salaries at the time. Engelbrecht explains that her study did not want to seek the cause of the situation, but rather to understand the impact or effect on everyone involved… to then use that information to understand whether it could have been managed differently.

“At the time of the actual incident, my husband discouraged me from reading newspapers or watching the news because I would get extremely upset over what I believed to be unjust comments or statements about Lonmin. Most of my colleagues felt that way as well. Despite the emotional component, I had to stay true to the research methodology and sift through the relevant statements, objectively code them and record them. I did have additional insights into what was happening within Lonmin itself, and perhaps that would have been parts that were not necessarily reported in the media, at least not within the timeframe of my selected study. However, I could not bring those insights into the study because it would have been contrary to the approved methodology. I had to adhere strictly to what was reported in the media as my source of data – making that a limitation of the study,” she says.

Engelbrecht says that the main objective was to identify the effects that the Marikana incident had on Lonmin and its main stakeholders, and in turn, to identify the effects the stakeholders and Lonmin had on each other. This was done through constructing a historical timeline of the sequence of events surrounding the Marikana incident; then identifying the main stakeholders involved in the Marikana incident. “Finally I could map out the relative strength of the relationships between stakeholders and events. This allowed me to conduct the stakeholder analysis,” she says.

Primary research objective

To identify the effects that the Marikana incident had on Lonmin (the organisation) and its main stakeholders, and in turn, to identify the effects the stakeholders and Lonmin had on each other.

Secondary research objectives


a) To construct an historical timeline of the sequence of events surrounding the Marikana incident;
b) To identify the main stakeholders involved in the Marikana incident; and
c) To map the relative strength of the relationships between stakeholders and events, as identified through the Quantitative Narrative Analysis.


During her graduation at UJ in June this year, Engelbrecht was honoured with a Chancellor’s Medal for her outstanding work. She will be engaging with members of the media later in September 2015 for more information on her research findings and recommendations, graduating at the top of her class, and becoming a sought-after scholar. Stay tuned for more information.​

Jenny Engelbrecht

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