Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year Award

Hasmukh Lal

Finalist of the Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year Award

"Transforming lives through entrepreneurialism and excellence"

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The 12 countries that jointly own my university, are categorised mostly as least developed or are developing countries.
These countries are scattered across 33 m sq. km in the Pacific Ocean and we are serving the needs of over 2 million in total population. Thus it is not an easy place to operate successful entrepreneurial ventures, specifically through an academic institution.
From small scale of economies, geographical scattered-ness, respect for individual sovereignty, access and digital divide at large, and vastly diverse culture and thinking. I have successfully managed, led and prepared USP Pacific TAFE to be the largest academic section of the University which has impacted the lives of many students, helping them in finding pathways to higher studies, entrance into employment and career advancement for already working students. This was done purely on self-funding basis. Tuition has been the only source of income for capital investments, overhead payments to the University and to manage operations and improvements. No grants were given to my section from the Governments or the University.
Despite these, my leadership has enabled thousands of students to study sub degree (vocational and career oriented programs) which was established on venture initiative/ start up model on fee for service amongst other achievements. Thousands of students have since graduated and moved into employment/ career advancements, while we have continuously delivered surplus results above targets.
Consequently, I believe driving entrepreneurial leadership in a very difficult political, social and geographical context with unending challenges, makes my application, the most unique.

Key People

Prof. Rajesh Chandra
Immediate Past Vice- Chancellor & President
Office of the Vice- Chancellor,  The University of South Pacific

Professor Richard Coll
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education
Office of Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Education,  The University of South Pacific


Dr Lal with Fellow of THE-ICE Award 2018

Special Student Graduating

Recent Lautoka Centre Opening

Pacific Fusion Students

Dr Lal with Pacific TAFE Staff on Winning VC's Teaching Excellence Award

Pacific TAFE Staff with WOWs Kids Fiji - NGO

Moments of All Capital Investment Launches

ECEC Students Celebrating Diversity

Some of Pacific TAFE Graduates

Awardees with their Certificates


Impacting lifes

As mentioned, USP member countries are located across the Pacific Ocean and are quite small in size, population as well as height in terms of sea level. Subsequently they are faced with everyday climate change and related threats.

Two of the countries, Tuvalu and Kiribati in particular are in extreme danger. There are concerns these two countries could be under water in 20 years’ time. The Prime Ministers and Ministers of USP Member Countries, had requested for their citizens to be trained with internationally recognised qualifications. These credentials to be then given seamless recognition for labour mobility and displacement of citizens in other countries, with dignity. In a bid to address their requests, we have since worked very closely with a number of accrediting partners in Australia and New Zealand, a major focus and close allies of our Pacific Countries. I have excelled in obtaining a number of international accreditations/ recognitions. Our quest continues to obtain accreditations from agencies in USA and UK.

Furthermore, in the need to build resilient societies in the Pacific, we developed and delivered Certificate III & IV in Resilience (Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction), Certificate IV in Project Management, Certificate IV in Fisheries Enforcement & Compliance as well as Certificate IV in Coastal Fisheries and Aquaculture Compliance. These are not money making programmes but to provide a service to build capabilities to mitigate climate change and combat exploitation of our marine resources. We had partnered and continue to partner with a number of our donors and partners in delivering these qualifications to our students across the Pacific at little or no cost.


Lessons learned

Universities in vulnerable economies, predominantly have entrenched legacy and bureaucracy. Core functions are seen as service fully dependent on Government or donor funding. Governments face unprecedented challenges and cannot continue to increasingly inject huge amounts of funding in higher education.

There are number of initiatives in universities that can be done without using Government funding. A person needs to do continuous market scanning and obtain labour market intelligence to gauge demand. Based on these demand, develop qualifications or programmes which will be self-sustainable on a fee paying basis.

People (particularly professors) within university committees leading up to Senate, often derail proposals of programmes lower than degree (expected level cynicism), but one needs to be on the spring board and explain the added value created, in a convincing manner, such as in the creation/ recognition of pathways and income diversification, to make the university entrepreneurial and sustainable. One of the global ranking criteria. The major hurdle for me has been that despite approvals, professors had often attempted to run down my programmes in terms of quality. As a result, I challenged myself to obtain all forms of external accreditations from independent expert agencies. I excelled in this which also gave competitive edge to the graduates of my section, in securing jobs.

Now with verified quality via accreditation, embedded employability skills, and increasing student admissions, I am satisfied I challenged myself. These results are now shaping the lives our Pacific People through employment, promotions at work places and trans-border employment opportunities.


What's coming?

University Grants Committee and Finance & Investment Committee forecast states that my section will have FJD $30m turnover by 2024 if we continue on the same rate of growth. Forbes and OECD studies show that demand for upskilling, re-training and re-skilling graduates will be 120 million per year compared to 45 million freshman. Hence, I will develop more upskilling and professional programmes to generate income while creating more employment for teaching and support staff. I also have plans to introduce new Foundation studies programmes (1 semester long) for high achievers in year 12 who don’t want to do year 13. I also have plans to offer pathway Diploma 1 as first degree programmes following which faculties to take up these students from Year 2. This is expected to allow academics to have more research time.

Furthermore, I will expand more programme offerings in all countries using face to face and online modes and expand to make full time presence of USP Pacific TAFE in new countries such as Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste.

For programmes, where we have Certificate levels only, I will lead in developing stair casing Diplomas and Associate Degrees. I would also ensure the planned FJD15m complex is completed (funded purely from surpluses generated) and more capital development is made in our member countries. I will stride to get more donor funding or project funding’s to fund programme deliveries in Small Island Countries where poverty is high and self-affordability for education is low.


$1.4m to over $17m

Financial Portfolio/ Revenue increased since 2013

From 3 full time and 6 part time staff to 215 full time, 72 part time & 9 student interns

Staffing and the team growth


Female members

1 to 41

USP Senate Approved Qualifications Sub-Degree Programmes

693 to 10,984



International accreditations/ recognitions for programmes and qualifications

FJD 3.7m

Capital Investment:

12 Member Countries across 33 million square kilometres



Short Courses


National accreditations by Fiji Higher Education Commission

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