Home Sweet Home

Sunday we had a free day before time to head to the airport. The majority of us went to a lion park in Johannesburg to do a “Cheetah Walk.” We were able to meet a cheetah and take pictures with her, which was such a neat experience! This particular cheetah was in the Castrol Motor Oil ads…pretty cool! After the cheetah walk we went to “Cub World” to play with baby lion cubs and had the opportunity to feed giraffe as well. Once we left the lion park we headed back to the hotel to check out and grab lunch before heading to the airport.

Our flight to London was at 10:00 pm, and we landed at 8:15 am London time. We had a short layover and our flight back to RDU left at 11:00 am London time, and arrived at Raleigh-Durham at 2:40 pm. Both plane rides together totaled about 20 hours. We were all ready to be on the ground after such long flights!

We all had an amazing experience, and this GIE was one to remember. We made new friends and learned so much that will be beneficial as we grow older (and wiser!) and move into the business world. I think I speak for all of us when I say that South Africa will always be a special place to us and will forever remain in our hearts. 



An African Safari

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to be on the bus at 5:30 am for the 3 hour drive to Pilanesburg for a day full of game drives. We saw the sun rise (for those who weren’t asleep) and pulled onto the reserve around 8:30. We hopped onto two safari vehicles and were off to scout out wildlife. The vehicle I was on had a wonderful guide named Jared. He was extremely knowledgeable and helped position us to see several animals that might not have been so close to us otherwise. For example, there was an elephant standing near the road and Jared had worked with elephants for two years learning their behaviors. He positioned us in the path where the elephant would most likely walk, and sure enough it came right by us! It was trying to show dominance, so Jared made a noise that communicated to the elephant that we were just observing and weren’t causing any trouble, so he moved on. Such a neat encounter!

We also saw a few white rhino, which are most likely going to be extinct in the next 3-5 years so we were sure to take lots of pictures! People still try to get in the reserves to poach the animals because of how much money the horns go for, so the population is being depleted. Jared knew a noise to make the rhino look up so we could get pictures of its head (white rhino keep their heads down mostly, black rhino walk with their heads up). We saw a black rhino off in the distance later on, and Jared said they are the mean ones that will charge at you. Probably a good thing that we were very far away!

We were also fortunate to see three lions sleeping on a mountain. Much zooming was required on the camera to take a picture, but looking through the binoculars was incredible. We could see them lift their heads and they were such beautiful creatures. Other animals we saw throughout the day included zebras, giraffe, baboons, hippos, kudu, springbok, wart hogs, guinea fowl, wildebeests, jackals, and a hyena (the hyena was during the second drive once it was dark). We finished up our first game drive and then had about a 3 hour break for lunch and relaxing before our second game drive.

When we headed out for the second game drive, my group requested Jared again and he did not disappoint! He took us to a special spot up the mountain to watch the sunset and it was amazing! He told us to close our eyes at one point, and when we opened them we all gasped because we were looking over the majority of Pilanesburg. It was so neat! After the sun went down we headed to have dinner in the “bush” with the rest of the people who did game drives that afternoon. The food was delicious and we had a great time around the campfire discussing our reflections of the trip and wrapping up the program.



The Day of Company Visits

Today was our last day of company visits and we had 3 of them! We started out the day going to Ogilvy and Mather, which is an advertising company. We saw the laid back culture and creative atmosphere that they foster. It was actually “pyjama” day there so we saw several employees in their pajamas as we toured the office. In addition to the office tour, we saw a presentation about marketing to a diverse audience, and specifically the South Africa black market. Ogilvy was very open about the advertising campaigns they have gotten wrong and showed us some interesting ads! Also, we visited Topsy, an NGO on the Ogilvy campus that helps women with HIV and AIDS. They teach them to make bags and beaded items that many of us purchased. Such a great cause to support because of the prevalence  and issue of HIV and AIDS in this country.

Next we visited GE and learned about their oil and gas industry specifically. We learned that one third of the world’s new oil discoveries since 2000 have taken place in Africa! They spoke to us about opening up Africa and the challenges that GE faces in sub-Saharan Africa. We ate a light lunch there and then moved on to our last official company visit to SAB Miller.

SAB Miller is the second largest brewery in the world based on volume. We heard a presentation about their presence in South Africa and the brands they have. Also, we heard about what they are doing to contribute to society through a “Men in Taverns” program as well as education surrounding HIV and AIDS for their employees. Men in Taverns allows men to discuss issues they may be having and how they can help each other as they deal with the struggles of being an HIV/AIDS patient. SAB Miller annually tests their employees and spouses for HIV/AIDS, and will help pay for treatment for those infected. This is something that SAB Miller is passionate about and wants to ensure that their employees will be healthy enough to be productive and not see HIV as an immediate death sentence because help is available. We also saw the inside of the brewery and were able to taste some of their products!

To close the day we had a short debrief about what we will be taking away from our experience here. One thing (among many) that has resonated with me is the sense of community–in the townships and in the companies. Everyone wants to help out everyone else, and the companies really invest in the community rather than just donating money or having one community service day a year. In the US we should be more invested in our surrounding communities and make it a business priority rather than just doing it for recognition.

Tomorrow we have to be on the bus bright and early at 5:30 am for the game drives! Hopefully we will see many animals and will enjoy the day!!

Nando’s and KPMG

Today we started off by having a lecture from Professor Margie Sutherland about HR and Employee Wellness in South Africa. She gave us some interesting insights that helped us throughout the day as we visited Nando’s and KPMG. Our first stop today was Nando’s, which is a Peri-Peri chicken restaurant chain. It was started back in 1987 by two friends, and has been growing ever since. They now have around 1000 stores worldwide, including some in the Washington, D.C. area. Nando’s is known for interesting ad campaigns that are not always politically correct. If you have a chance, YouTube some of their ads–remember that I warned you! We had a wonderful lunch there and the food was so delicious!

After we left the headquarters we went to ICAS, which is an employee wellness center that sponsors many of the major companies, including Nando’s and KPMG. This is a call center that can help employees with any personal problems they may have, and it is completely confidential. All of those receiving calls are social workers or psychologists. We were able to briefly walk through the call center while we were there to see them in action.

Following the call center visit, we headed to KPMG to hear about the South Africa practice and how IFRS standards have made an impact in the country since adoption in 2005. We heard from a Learning and Education trainer as well as an actuary who gave us some insight into the advisory side. This was interesting information to hear for those in our group considering tax, audit, or advisory. We have had a long day, but it was enjoyable! Tomorrow we have three company visits to Ogilvy, GE, and SABMiller. It will be another long day, but I don’t think it will disappoint!

African Development

Today was an informational and enlightening day. We started out the day hearing from Dr. Melani Prinsloo who is a founding member of Infusion, a community-based research entity focusing on underdeveloped communities. She provided us with a unique perspective and wonderful insight to our (mostly wrong) assumptions and how companies and people like us want to develop other people, not really looking at the context and figuring out what works for them.

Essentially, how can we design something for someone we do not know? Development needs to be approached in a way that is beneficial for ALL stakeholders. If a company comes in to develop a community and the only beneficiary is the company, then development is not a positive. In addition, when offering jobs to unemployed people, they need to have a job that allows them to participate on a level they feel comfortable with, and one that meets their personal objectives. A person who has never worked in his or her life cannot be thrown into a certain job just to fix unemployment rates because that person will have been done a disservice–they are not capable of that job and will not be motivated. Melani asked us this question that made us think: How many of us would be keen to have someone who has never worked in our company? The solution to unemployment is not just handing out jobs. There is a capability bridge that needs to be crossed. These are just a few of the insights that Melani gave us that we had never really pondered before. I could go on, but that could take a very long time!

Melani spent the whole day with us as we went into a large township in Johannesburg called Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to live in Soweto. This township has the poorest of the poor as well as some of the wealthiest people–around 4 million people live in Soweto. We went to the mall and visited 2 banks–Absa and Capitec–as well as Shoprite, a grocery store/smaller Wal-mart concept. We were able to see that these companies target everyone in the township, not just a certain market, and the customers value low prices and great customer service. We also visited a small Vodacom call center on the side of the road where citizens can make landline calls. We spoke with the owner to understand more about how the service works. 

Following the company visits, we had lunch at a restaurant called Wandie’s. The food was absolutely delicious and we were able to enjoy some traditional African foods while there. We also had lunch entertainment provided by a man playing the guitar and singing with two ladies. Their voices were wonderful and we very much enjoyed their music! After we ate, we went to the Hector Pieterson museum in Soweto. Hector was only 13 when he was shot by police in the Soweto uprising of 1976. This was where students were protesting the government demand for Afrikaans to be the language of instruction in schools during the Apartheid era. The museum was interesting and we were able to learn a lot that we were not previously aware of.

After our long day out and about we came back for a debrief with Melani about our day, unpacking everything that we learned and observed. Melani shared more knowledge with us and left us curious about global development. Most definitely a very intellectual day! Tomorrow we visit Nando’s (a restaurant chain) and then KPMG. 

Goodbye Cape Town, Hello Jo’burg!

The past two days have been very full, but we have learned a lot and had a great time! We started out yesterday by going to the Pick n Pay headquarters. Pick n Pay is mainly a grocery store with some other home items. We talked to Suzanne Ackerman there, whose father, Raymond Ackerman started the company many years ago. She discussed the sustainability program, the Small Business Incubator program, and building an ethical company in an unethical society. The practices of Pick n Pay and their employee benefits make them a company of choice, and Suzanne knows what she wants and how to get it.

Following Suzanne’s talk, we heard from Mario Thompson, the founder of Loaded Smoothies. Loaded Smoothies is part of Pick n Pay’s incubator program and Mario is very interested in learning how to break into the United States. Our group shared some of our perspectives and ways that Mario could try to break into our market. Mario’s story was one of persistence and dedication to his company. He was interesting to listen to and seemed to enjoy the ideas we gave him as well!

We had a light lunch at Pick n Pay, and then headed to an African storytelling session. This was so neat! Philippa Kabali-Kagwa told us two traditional stories, and then we were part of the storytelling process. We were split up into healers, poor family, rich family, immigrant family, widows, elders, and chief. Philippa told us the first part of the story where we listened as our characters and then had give our reasons to the chief why no one in the village brought wine to the community gathering. The whole process taught us the importance of community, and following that story we all shared what we appreciated about this trip and the group. It was a great way to end our day before heading to the airport!

We arrived in Johannesburg last night about 9:15 pm, and were up early this morning to start the day! We began by hearing from Stella Nkomo who discussed business leadership in the “new” South Africa after apartheid was abolished. She was an engaging speaker who was very straight-forward about the issues and the necessity for transformational change. She detailed the differences in high context cultures (Africa) and low context cultures (USA) that affect how business is done. This was a very interesting session that kept us all wanting to hear more!

After Stella’s session, Lydia Tanyanyiwa shared her thoughts as an African Leader and woman CEO. She made us think about what our colleagues would say about our leadership styles and how leadership should be moral and ethical no matter what country you are in. She had us participate and was fun to listen to. We gained so much perspective from our two sessions this morning!

After lunch came our favorite part of the day. We went to the African Leadership Academy to eat lunch with and talk to the students. The ALA “seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of 6,000 leaders who will work together to achieve extraordinary social impact.” Most of the students are international and come from other African countries rather than just South Africa. There are currently 200 students studying there split between first and second years. They are all very intelligent, and the majority will go to college in the United States. The ALA is essentially a boarding high school that gives these students incredible opportunities. One of the guys I talked to today is starting at Skidmore in the fall, and another will be applying to several schools including UNC. We have some African Leadership Academy students currently at UNC, and many become Morehead-Cain or Robertson scholars, two of our most prestigious academic scholarships. Also, a teacher now at the ALA is a graduate of Kenan-Flagler’s BSBA program and knew several of our professors. We thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the students and getting to know them and hear their stories.

We ended our day by going to the Apartheid museum. We were able to see and read about some of the injustices and affects of apartheid that we have been hearing about. Also, there was a special exhibit about Nelson Mandela that was truly interesting and inspiring. We had a wonderful day and the pace has definitely picked up now that we are in Jo’burg! We have a busy day tomorrow that starts bright and early! Sorry for not posting pictures, but the wifi does not seem to connect to my phone, and I am going to wait until I return home to load all of my pictures on my computer (I have been emailing certain ones to myself to post). 

Peninsula Tour

Today the majority of the group went shark diving, but a few of us decided to stick to the Cape Peninsula Tour that was originally scheduled. We enjoyed many beautiful sites and interacted with interesting animals. We drove all around the edge of the Western Cape seeing many towns and stopping to take pictures at different points. We stopped at a market for about 30 minutes at a fishing harbor, and were able to do a little shopping and stretch our legs. After that we kept driving and were able to make a pit stop by an ostrich farm. We all had the chance to feed an ostrich and see baby ostriches while there. It was a unique experience because they forcefully peck the food out of your hand! 

After the ostrich farm we made our way up to Cape Point National Park and saw baboons everywhere, as well as wild ostriches and Eland in the distance. The baboons are so used to the people and the food that they have, so they will do whatever it takes to get food or drink from the tourists. When we first rode up on the bus we saw one run and grab a drink that a gentleman had placed on the ground while he grabbed his belongings. Then we went to lunch at Two Oceans Restaurant and sat on the patio. One baboon was walking on the tarp and eventually jumped down and quickly grabbed food off of a lady’s plate. The waiters all started trying to scare him off, but he returned many times and actually took food from another plate in the process. It was a big commotion, but pretty entertaining to watch. We also saw one sitting on the roof of a car…they were everywhere!

We climbed to one of the lighthouses at the top of the point (and it was a straight incline). We definitely got our exercise going up! The weather was beautiful today though, so the views were gorgeous. After we finished everything at Cape Point we went to Boulders Beach where there is an African Penguin colony. We enjoyed seeing them up close and watching them interact. Following the penguin colony we returned to the hotel after a long, fun-filled day of sightseeing.

We had a wonderful guide named Yolanda who shared much information with us and made our experience that much greater! The shark divers said they had a blast and saw 17 sharks (one being especially huge)! It seems that we had a great day all around! Tomorrow is our last day in Cape Town and we will be flying to Johannesburg tomorrow night! Also, happy 20th birthday to Maegan!! She enjoyed her day in Cape Town 🙂