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!!


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