Professor Saritha Beni started her career as a school teacher before entering the higher education sector where she felt she could make a greater difference by being part of initial teacher education.
A career in higher education seemed to be a natural calling for Beni, Associate Director: Curriculum Directorate at MANCOSA, who wanted to serve without expectation and make a difference in the lives of individuals who were never afforded opportunities to advance themselves.
“Teaching can change the circumstances of a child. Obtaining a first degree is a matter of prestige and a stepping-stone towards a better life. Now more than ever, there is ample opportunity for men and women alike to enjoy meaningful careers,” she said.
Reflecting on her career progression, she said she was in a happy space and having a supportive partner made the journey to achieving personal and professional aspirations less overwhelming.
As life threw curveballs at her, she took them in her stride and remained determined and optimistic about life.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 when her children were in their prime and when she had just commenced her PhD. During her studies, she was dealt with another major blow – she lost her father, her biggest inspiration.
Not fearing death, and still coming to terms with her loss, she remained focussed on obtaining professorship, a title she earned in 2019.
The 50-year old mother of two was born in Clairwood, south of Durban, before moving to Merebank and then Morningside where she now resides.
“Life as a child was precious and carefree. We walked to school, played soccer and cricket on the road and unlike most people who would prepare ahead of time, we baked on Diwali day,” said Beni.
She said the two-and-half years at private higher education institution MANCOSA had been a gratifying experience. In her current position, she is responsible for overseeing 47 programmes in the Curriculum Development and Management department.
A member of the Academic Exco, she prides herself in putting into practice policies, processes and structures to enhance organisational efficiency. She recently took over the Graduation and Certification department.
Core to her leadership style is mentorship and empowering staff to become confident critical thinkers and decision-makers.
Beni obtained a BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The high achiever also holds a Higher Diploma in Education, Bachelor of Education, Master of Education which she graduated summa cum laude, a PhD in Science Education and a Diploma in Vedic Studies which will ultimately enable her to fulfil her spiritual journey of giving back to the community.
On the challenges she encountered as a career woman, she said she constantly had to prove herself and ask for opportunities. However, she believes success is inevitable with a go-getter attitude, sheer determination and perseverance.
“May the dreams that you dream be the future that you find” is the philosophy she lives by.
“Don’t give up when faced with adversity. Don’t be apologetic about going after what you want and building a solid reputation in your area of interest. Life happens – embrace the good times with the bad as circumstances make you more resilient.
“In my profession, it is rewarding to see staff flourish, a programme being accredited, and students graduating – all testament to education making a difference in the lives of ordinary people.”
Beni cherishes family time with her husband, Laren and her two sons, Nirav and Advik and is well travelled. She has traversed India, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, America, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Italy, Greece, Mauritius, Thailand, Dubai, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Solvenia, Russia, Morocco, London and Turkey for both business and leisure.