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Masters Graduate Motivated by Desire for Deeper Understanding of her Job

April 20, 2015

Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies for Ms Yolandi Nieuwenhuis.
Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies for Ms Yolandi Nieuwenhuis.

A desire for a deeper understanding of the technical and practical issues of her job motivated a Legal Advisor for the SA Revenue Services (SARS), Ms Yolandi Nieuwenhuis, to study for a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies degree. 

Nieuwenhuis, who deals specifically with customs and excise issues at SARS, graduated with a dissertation titled: “Coastal Cabotage: A Contested Transport Policy Terrain”, supervised by Professor Trevor Jones. 

‘I truly enjoyed studying towards this degree,’ she said. ‘It opened up another world to me and gave me insight into issues I would not usually have had the opportunity to look at.  It combined different aspects of law and maritime issues, and gave me a better understanding of the “workings” of the industry.  If you are interested in this field, this degree will help you understand the maritime world from both an economic and legal perspective.  It is a qualification worth having.’ 

Nieuwenhuis chose a study that would not only broaden her knowledge but also possibly benefit the maritime community. Her topic is thus high on the discussion list for organisations such as the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the African Union as it could potentially have a major impact on the shipping industry and the economies of South Africa and Africa. 

‘Research, although challenging for some, is a great adventure for me.  It allows one an opportunity to really get behind the scenes of a topic which might have been taken for granted in general before. 

‘Being able to find - or at least try to find - all the information of relevance on a topic is quite an experience. Research is a process where you read something new every day which then triggers a referral to something else. In the end it is really a challenge to remain focussed and to keep going,’ she said. 

In order to complete the degree, Nieuwenhuis had to juggle work and study commitments, and sometimes commute between Pretoria and Durban but they were all small sacrifices for the knowledge and skills she acquired. 

‘I have always been interested in shipping and maritime and wanted to pursue an LLM in Shipping Law.  However, as I already had a legal background, I was looking for a different angle to shipping. 

‘To be able to assist with a legal problem, you first have to have a good understanding of the industry itself.  This commerce degree gives me the alternative that I was looking for as I am now in a better position to understand the challenges of the industry and can provide legal advice and assistance from a well-informed platform,’ Nieuwenhuis added. 

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