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News > Congratulations and Awards > 2023 Robert Gray Award Assembly

2023 Robert Gray Award Assembly

Presentation of The Bishop Robert Gray Medal. Recipient: Professor Haroon Bhorat (Gray House, 1986)

The party consisting of the sacristans, Mr Crispin Sonn the Chair of Council, the Principal Mr Tony Reeler, the school Chaplain the Reverend Monwabisi Peter, Professor Haroon Bhorat (1986G), the Chair of the ODU, Mr Martin Bey (1990B) and the Head of School Nic Allison, processed into the War Memorial Chapel at 7.50am on Friday morning, 11 August 2023, for the Robert Gray Medal Award with the College in full assembly.

After the opening prayer, Mr Sonn introduced Professor Bhorat; then Nic Allison read the citation (included below); after which the Principal made the presentation of the medal and then Prof. Bhorat replied.

Then followed a music item, and then the closing prayers were said followed by the hymn Guide me, O thou great Redeemer and a Recessional Voluntary played by the Director of Music Mr Mark Mitchell. It is clear from the enthusiastic response from the audience that Professor Bhorat’s address was meaningful to the students and impactful, for them to take away from it these pearls of wisdom of a Bishops OD who is operating at a high level locally, nationally and internationally, as the citation attests to.

Tea was served in the colonnade, honoured guests present were Bishop Joshua, Keith Richardson (1968O), Taahir Bhorat (2016B) the son of Haroon Bhorat, the Headmaster of the Prep School, Greg Brown, David Carter (1958G) the President of the ODU and Bobby Cooves, the Chair of the PA.


Professor Haroon Bhorat was born in Roodepoort and came to Bishops Prep in 1978, as a member of Brooke House, matriculating from the College in 1986, as a member of Gray House. He won the Prize for Biblical Studies and another for General Good

Work in his matric year. At school, he was known for his strong political views amidst the 1980s struggle years. His university career was stellar, first at the University of Cape Town from 1987 to 1991 reading for Economics degrees, after which he did his MA and PhD in Economics at the University of Stellenbosch. His first appointment was as a Lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, where he has remained ever since. Today, he is Professor in the School of Economics, and Director at the Development Policy Research Unit. He has also studied at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been a research associate at Cornell University in New York.

Professor Bhorat has a long list of fellowships and serves on many advisory boards, not least as a member of the South African Presidential Economic Advisory Council to President Ramaphosa. He has been an Economic Advisor to former South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan and to Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. In terms of his global public policy roles, Professor Bhorat is a member of numerous international committees and panels including the Advisory Board of the UNDP’s 2020 Human Development Report, and the World Bank’s Advisory Board of the Commission on Global Poverty. He is on the advisory board of the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP), and UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and the International Economics Association. Professor Bhorat was an advisor on the South African Parliament’s High-Level Panel on Acceleration of Change and Transformation. He is regularly consulted by Ratings Agencies, local and international investors on both South African and African growth and market dynamics.

Professor Bhorat is that rare breed of an economist who is able seamlessly to move between high level engagements with leaders in the private sector, public service and academia. Professor Bhorat has an h-index of 43, ranking him as one of the most cited South African economists globally. His work has been hugely influential in policy

making in South Africa and continues to be called on by private and public sector leaders on issues of economic growth and development.

Professor Bhorat is on the board of two JSE-listed companies; as a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Sygnia Ltd. and is an Independent Non-Executive Director for Pick ‘n Pay Stores Limited. He is also Non-Executive Chairperson of the Nimble Group.

Professor Bhorat is married to Dr. Najma Shaikh, a former Bishops Council member and they have three children, Taahir an OD and twins who are Old Herschelians, Aliya and Samiya.

Professor Bhorat is a novice birder, a lifelong Liverpool FC fan and part-time runner.


Prof. Bhorat reflected upon some personal pathways to success. First, Success was defined

“as the ability to achieve one’s set out goals which in the ordinary course of life can be deemed a difficult goal to achieve”.

For an understanding of this idea, Prof. Bhorat explained

Success will be “differentially defined for individuals in a society depending on their starting circumstances” referring to what economists call “initial endowments.”

This situation was explained to the audience. He then set out his own Pathways to Success which he explained in several points:

  1. A passion for your craft/trade/skills, and he provided some interesting real-life examples;
  2. Specialization in your work … with an example of Di Fara Pizza in NYC, the proprietor of the pizza outlet, who had perfected making the ‘perfect’ pizza that has remained in high demand ever since;
  3. The value of to work as hard as is humanly possible;
  4. Never underestimate your audience, so prepare as hard as you can to the extent that you ‘over prepare’, with passion and striving for perfection;
  5. Show humility and modesty at all times, reaching out to everyone you come into contact with irrespective of the person’s position or designation;
  6. Pursue knowledge through ways such as reading – “reading constantly about developments in and around your area of focus in your working life”. Prof. Bhorat gave the example of Warren Buffett who read articles, never lifting his head until he had finished reading from the beginning to the end.


  • 2018  - Mr Raymond Ackerman and Prof. Dr Robert Frater
  • 2019 - Mr Richard Cock and Mr Mark Shuttleworth
  • 2020 - Dr Robert Adam, Bishop Geoff Davies, Mr John Gardener and Mr Anthony Record
  • 2021 - Mr Geoffrey Burton, Prof. Hugh Corder
  • 2022 - Prof. Haroon Bhorat, Bishop Christopher Gregorowski and Dr Greg Mills

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