Night Owl's Revenge

Global Immersion in Management (GIM): South Africa!

I sat down at my computer today to work on the final paper for my media management class and ended up staring at a blank page for an hour! Since I have a major case of writer’s block I’d rather procrastinate take a break for a few minutes and write about something exciting.

I am beyond thrilled to announce that I got a seat in the GIM South Africa class! GIM is a student lead course that does a deep dive into a region or country’s culture and business environment. This year there were also trips to China, South America, Southeast Asia, India, and Japan. I had a tough time deciding which course to take but decided on South Africa because of the country’s past and its rapid growth in the years since Apartheid. Several second years spoke about their experiences in country last year and how much they enjoyed the trip, so I knew that I would have to bid a substantial amount of points to secure a seat in the class (over 700 of my 2000 allotted for the year).   

Over winter break I read Nelson Mandela’s biography, A Long Walk to Freedom, as an introduction to South Africa’s past and to learn more about this extraordinary man, whose leadership helped to end one of the greatest injustices in human history - Apartheid.

Each week the class met and we discussed recent news and issues that South Africa is currently facing, including the political structure of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which is celebrating its 100th year in 2012. The policies and controversies surrounding Presidents Mbeki and Zuma, HIV/AIDS, issues in human capital and education, sports, media/technology, banking and infrastructure were all topics studied in class. We also discussed the country’s emerging black middle class, the government’s efforts in black economic empowerment (BEE) and enforcing corporate social responsibility.    

Students are divided into small groups and choose an industry business issue to examine in a research paper. Projects this year include papers in South Africa’s wine industry, banking and private equity, human capital, and education. My group will be looking at multinational consumer goods companies that are moving into the country to serve the new middle class. We’ll examine how they build their brands in South Africa, and what successes and failures they’ve experienced doing business in the country and expanding into the continent of Africa. 

While we’re in-country we’ll meet with contacts identified through our research to gather information for our papers. We will also be meeting with alumni and admitted students in Johannesburg, as well as visiting the Apartheid museum, Robben Island, and will spend a few days in Cape Town. The trip isn’t all work and no play though! We’re going to spend a few days relaxing in Botswana and Zimbabwe on safari and visiting Victoria Falls.

I need a camera to document my trip. If anyone has any recommendations for models under $200 please let me know! The next few days will be crazy as I have to take early final exams and find some time to pack. To combat stress I’ve been listening to the following song by Shakira that she sang for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - it just makes me want to dance!

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