No naïve idealism, or Bitter Realism
July 12, 2019
#Like A Girl
July 12, 2019

Spotlight | MSC | Carol Ruth Taggart

Carol Ruth Taggart is a business, educational and societal transformer in a league of her own.


Carol, who joined our small business college 20 years ago as a product developer, has not only magnificently developed our education product and thereby the users, but also our organisation and staff, and she is now busy developing a more professionalised business environment across South Africa. Carol joined what was then MSC College as a product developer in 1998. At the time MSC was a young business college with five small campuses. It is today a conglomerate called MSC Education Holdings comprising a business college with 14 franchises, 250 staff and 4000 students per year, as well as overseeing the MSC Master Artisan Academy, MSC Enterprise Solutions, MSC Corporate Solutions, MSC Graduate Institute and the Culima Foundation, an NPO.

Carol has been pivotal in growing the organisation into this multifaceted educational consortium and as a chief operating officer, she oversees it all. She also leads MSC Education Holdings in my absence.

Beyond that MSC and the wider business community is benefiting from a system that is uniquely her creation – our Career Oriented Learning Experience (COLE). It began eight years ago when this passionate educationist and social upliftment driver took herself to Germany to investigate the learning systems that have produced some of the greatest companies in the world. On her return, she began to devise first of all the concept of a simulated work environment to enable our students to gain first-hand knowledge and practical experience of what is needed in commerce. This culminated in the development of COLE. It is an approach that goes beyond technical theory and provides learners with the soft skills, such as a good work ethic and other aspects of professional conduct, that make them fully job ready and which businesses and industries have been desperate for.
Carol’s efforts have been applauded by numerous businesses. They say her innovative educational methods are markedly transforming and professionalising their working environments and public spaces. Many are now actively seeking our graduates to employ or are sending their staff to MSC for training.

This is testament to Carol’s ability and tenacity as a savvy businesswoman who has the capacity to translate vision into highly successful trend-setting reality. Beyond that, she is exemplary in the sphere of private education – higher, further and tertiary – as a pioneer, a standard-bearer of excellence, a change agent and growth stimulator who is passionate about well-rounded human investment.

These achievements are, of course, based on remarkable character qualities, most notably integrity, leadership, tenacity, sacrifice and cheerful compassion. Carol is also the consummate professional who’ll often be heard to use the motto “good is the enemy of great”. Her integrity is not an act. Integrity is what defines Carol and what she lives by. Her moral compass never waivers. Her lifestyle and conduct suggest a woman who continually grows closer to God. If there is one thing Carol cannot do, it is to be dishonest and lie. She is also always highly respectful of all people and continuously builds and improves relationships. In all her interactions she is unshakably fair to everybody, whilst being able to take it in her stride if she is treated unfairly.

For leadership, experts such as Jack Welch, John Maxwell and Jim Collins would give Carol an A+. She has the ability to successfully lead a team and direct business in times of extreme adversity, as well as in periods of great prosperity.

She has an unwavering ability and willingness to take responsibility, even to shoulder other people’s responsibilities to ensure successful mission accomplishment. And should something go wrong, Carol is the first to self-reflect, to see if miscommunication started with her.

Carol also leads by example. No task is too menial for her to tackle and see through effectively and efficiently. She’s never shy to roll up her sleeves and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the successful roll-out of all operational plans.

Her commitment is of such a level that in our darkest moments she has stepped forward to forgo her salary. And mind-blowingly she has not taken a day’s sick leave in 20 years.
Operationally she has an amazing ability to see what must be done next, where it fits into the overall strategy and how to let it happen. She has a natural flair to link strategy with the operational roll-out. She is also able to assess any situation in an unbiased fashion, to be open to any argument, to remain free of anger, and to make changes if necessary, even to herself, and also to direct change-management processes.

No surprise then that she inspires immense trust and confidence and as my second in command, she provides an excellent sounding board. Over the years have learnt to trust her gut feel which is seldom wrong. Despite her many responsibilities, her yearning for self-growth drives her to keep on learning and expanding her capacity. This, in turn, instils a willingness to learn among those she leads. And finally, she is loads of fun and a pleasure to have around. MSC Education Holdings would not be where it is today if it was not for Carol Taggart’s active participation and leadership. I trust her with my life and our business. She is indeed a blessing and one of MSC’s greatest assets.