Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jhb - Our World Class City

Two areas that I hoped to be learning about in this course were project management and marketing. These are two areas I have never been exposed to at university and was looking forward to learning the basics.

Both Brian Orlin and Tshepo Nkosi from the Johannesburg Development Agency ( sparked my interest in these fields. I’m not yet ready to head in these directions because I first want to settle in the areas of my personal interest, namely corporate foreign policy. However, once I’m in there I would like to broaden my expertise to be able to tackle projects where marketing is needed and project and programme management is essential.

It is amazing how many people are needed in completing a project. That is why I think the Constitution Hill project is so inspiring ( A lot of hard work has definitely paid off. Aspects such as functional performance, time and money are difficult aspects to juggle and to balance it is even more challenging.

There is always extra help needed in the funding and strategic management of projects. Thus organizations like Blue IQ ( is there to help. Blue IQ, like Brian and Nkhosi said, is part of the projects involving smart industries like Gautrain, high value-added manufacturing like the Gauteng automotive cluster, and Tourism, like Constitution Hill.

I think its fantastic that the Gauteng Provincial Government started this initiative to develop economic infrastructures for these specific areas. It will promote the increase of growth in this province and also private sector investment in certain areas. It is great to know that there are organizations like the JDA and Blue IQ together with the Provincial Government that care about striving towards developing the Gauteng area. It is a opportunity for Johannesburg to push up its popularity as a world class city. Here is the Gauteng Provincial Government website for further information (

Monday, March 27, 2006

No Death Wish

'It is possible to have a generation without HIV/AIDS - we are the ones to make it possible.' Graça Machel.

It was an eye-opener to see the statistics on HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This is the reality and it is something we all have to face. But what gets my goat is the fact that our country has no set national plan on improving the problem. We are sitting with a president who recognises the issue of HIV/AIDS but doesn’t recognise the severity of the impact and future of HIV. Then we are sitting with a Minister of Health who is a fool to think a diet consisting of certain foods is more effective than anti-retroviral drugs. Wake up South Africa!

We are the youth of our country. We must make a difference by making ourselves good examples:

  • Practice safe sex
  • Educate others
  • Eradicate the stigma of HIV/AIDS as a filthy disease
  • And support those who have contracted the disease

Here is a website which can help us understand more about HIV/AIDS : This is the website for the Treatment Action Campaign which fights for the right to affordable means of treating this disease.

I also think it is very important to know the procedures when it comes to HIV/AIDS in the workplace. That is why I would just like to thank Ms. Randall for opening my eyes and making me more aware of something this serious. We need more people like her out there who are willing to educate people to understand how the disease works and to not stereotype the disease as a death-wish.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Getting that Job

I found the session on our CV and interviewing skills most useful so far due to the fact that it was a workshop that helped me improve my ways of getting that actual job that we have all been looking for. The other sessions have taught me how to handle the real working world when I do get that job. Those sessions are of equal importance. I know getting that job is up to me, but I feel more confident now that I know what to expect from interviews and what employers expect from my CV (and boy was mine off track). The tips were great, and the mock interviews were terrifying. Thanks again to Wickus Joubert and Willemien Strydom.

Stress Ball

I’m not surprised at the results of my stress test. I’ve been categorised under “your stress level is high. Many signs of stress. You’re likely a workaholic. Generally do not handle stress well”. The statement describes me frightingly well, except for the last sentence. I think I do handle stress quite well. I do indeed experience all the aspects of high stress but lately I have had the attitude of “just let it be”. I always thought this might me the wrong way to approach the situation, but I have been doing things to counter this stress, and these things were highlighted by Shameen. Just a few things I do: I try to smile a lot (most of the time it comes naturally but other times I should focus on doing this). I sing in traffic and smile at taxis and road hogs when they irritate me. I try to exercise when I can. I love my 8 hours sleep, and I look forward to weekends to socialise and be with my family/friends. But maybe Shameen should come back to give us the same session in our last week. I might be pulling my hair out by then.

Also, big thanks to Mr. Kalliatakis for his presentation on customer service. Not only did it educate me on the utmost necessity for good customer service, but it also made me realise how important my reaction is to customer service. I’m often the indifferent customer who will go to the closest and easiest place to buy or get my things done. Sometimes I am loyal to a company or I might complain about bad service, but this will only happen in extreme situations. After this session I’m going to change my attitude of being a habitual customer to one that gives constructive criticism to a company. Here is Mr. Kalliatakis’ website address to find out more information on customer service:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Peanut Clusters

Even though I was thinking mostly about the weekend, I somehow managed to pay attention to the session on competitiveness, cooperation and collaboration presented by Josie Rowe-Setz. These aspects make it possible for companies to improve their efficiency of their standards. And I surely never knew what clusters were. Before that day the only cluster I knew was a peanut cluster. However, in business terms I started making sense of this peanut cluster I’m talking about. A peanut cluster is lots of peanuts combined together by chocolate. So my vague understanding of a business cluster was a bunch of businesses that network with one another in similar areas to keep their business running smoothly. What I also have learnt is how these clusters can affect the area they are situated in, or how it is plainly convenient for the business to be involved in this cluster. I never thought of how different businesses fuel one another to be able to make products or provide a service.

It was also great having experienced businessmen in our midst. I felt the session was mostly focussed on the Limpopo guests, but I surely walked away with more knowledge on these things than I’ve had before. I would like to know how we can get hold of the slides for this session.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Financial Mail

The other day I spotted the Financial Mail at my parents’ house. It was one of the January issues. Inside I found a feature on the Financial Mail Campus magazine. Why it grabbed my attention is because the cover title was “How to get a job when you graduate”. The magazine seemed quite interesting. They also have a website if you want to give it a quick visit and see what its about.

My Interests

During our individual introductions at the teamwork presentations I heard Samuel, Susan, Yoliswa and a couple of other colleagues expressing their interests in African development and how Africa is lagging behind globally. I’m interested in corporate governance and political risk in companies and also how important the role of South African companies are in Africa. Here is a website which I think you’ll be interested in (if you haven’t heard of it already). Its It deals with current issues on African development. Discussions among students and other people are often held here (similar to our blogs).


Here’s a little something I wanted to add to my entry about NEPAD. It has to deal with learning different business cultures. African countries, including South Africa, should learn the culture of the different countries they interact with business wise. One of these cultures is that of China. This is called the culture of Guanxi. This term is the Chinese term of how to conduct relationships in the workplace. Seeing that China has such a huge impact on a global scale and also in Africa, every business should learn the Chinese culture of networking and relationship building. A good book to read is “Doing Business in China” by Johan van der Wath.

Reference: Van der Wath, K. 2004. Doing Business in China. Cape Town: Creda Communications.

Go Team Go!

I must say I disagree with Roy (sorry Roy). Teamwork IS important. The presentation by Brad Arden fuelled my belief in teamwork. Don’t get me wrong. I know how important individuality and individual work is. Nevertheless there are many instances where a team (combined out of a number of effective individuals) is highly valuable. Teamwork helps you fill the gaps of knowledge that you didn’t have before. If you aren’t experienced or knowledgeable in a certain area, one of your team-mates will help you and feed you with new information, and visa versa.

I sometimes don’t like teamwork. I will back Beatrice up in this respect where she said that some team members just don’t pull their weight. However, the difference between teamwork at university and teamwork in our work place one day differs. Here the people are willing, equipped and trained to do their job. And if they don’t, they stand the chance of receiving Donald Trump’s favourite saying, “You’re fired”.

Our NEPAD workshop was interesting. At first I thought it was very repetitive of what the NEPAD website says, but I realised I didn’t fully understand what the website meant. It is an area of my line of interests that I should pay careful attention to because thus far its been the most successful African development initiative yet. Mr Metcalfe was honest enough in saying the Initiative itself is inspiring, but the Secretariat is the downfall. I totally agree. What I also enjoyed about this session is that is sparked a lot of debate. Some brilliant points were highlighted during these debates. Thanks for that everyone. Here is the website address of The Foundation for the Development of Africa where Mr Metcalfe works:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blue Skies Everybody!

I think I need a week off after Roy’s presentation. What a hectically fantastic day. I wish I had that man’s energy (well I think I will if I stick to my promise of quitting take-aways). As I’m sitting here typing on my friend’s computer, I’m wearing my hat. And yes, my friend does think I’m a bit crazy.

I never thought I was a creative person. I always thought of it in an artistic light, literally. But to me what stuck out the most during our session was that one always has to re-invent one self to be happy. So I realised I am a creative person because I often find myself re-inventing things and aspects in my life. One example was the way I studied at university. It became boring, repetitive and mind-numbing. I realised I had to change the way I approached my routine and began studying in different rooms and changing my time-patterns. I started pasting notes on my wall and talking out loud. Every semester I tried making it more interesting. Well, I think it worked because I’m sitting with two degrees behind my name.

The colour on my hat right now is orange. I’m still a bit weary of my creativity, especially with my blogging. But looking at my previous blogs, trying to be very critical, I can see a more relaxed tone coming out of my typing as the days go by. Hopefully by the end of this course I’ll be the ultimate Queen Blogger (look, I’m already setting big goals for myself). As Lesley said, our blogging is our evaluation of the presentation so I won’t go further about my blogging experience. But I would just like to share a quick story about the networking and information gathering that Roy was talking about. My friend’s sister has an illness called Lupis which has affected her life in a serious way. The other day I was looking at other blogs on and came across a lady’s blog dealing with her experience with Lupis. I went onto her blog and found plenty of information I can give back to my friend. Now that is what I call networking. For a better understanding of the man himself, here is his website adderess:

The Importance of Transparency and Emotions

I enjoyed the visit from Mr Kapelus the other day because I had a good idea of what he was presenting after working at the AICC for two weeks. I think corporate governance is a crucial aspect for business in order to contribute to sustainable development, and like he said, to be valuable.

I often like to compare the things I have learnt this week with the mining industry because its an area I’m very interested in. Even though mining itself is not sustainable, most mining companies deal with the triple bottom line so that its accounted for and managed in a transparent way. An ultimate example here is the Mining Charter. I think it is imperative especially in today’s world where globalisation, the needs of society/stakeholders and reputation is a growing trend.

And remember the important quote from the presentation guys: “Never have bad debts” -Paul Kapelus-

With regards to Ms Naidu’s presentation, I felt that a lot of things that were said I already knew, but afterwards I realised how I don’t use my emotions to my advantage. I also found it very interesting how hers coincided with that of the previous day’s BWSA presentation. The importance of “listening”, “communicating”, and “resilience” came forth in both quite prominently. Even though it was from different perspectives namely the corporate environment and the psychological environment, they both stress how important it is to have these qualities. Both highlighted emotional and physical health which is essential to be highly effective in the workplace (looks like I’m going to have to stop eating all those take-aways).

The tests Ms Naidu provided showed that I have little confidence in myself. I don’t agree entirely with my results as I know I am a confident person on a social scale, but I do realise there is a difference between confidence in the workplace and confidence in my social life. I don’t think I’m emotionally illiterate but I would like to improve my EIQ to enhance my decision-making. Just a quick question I want to raise: Is there a big difference between confidence in the workplace and confidence in one’s social life?

Here are the website addresses of the AICC and the CCDU: and

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Independence Day

Yesterday was the first day of my path to being an independent woman. And what an experience it was. My day started off on a high note. Familiar faces made me less anxious and new faces made me excited for the World of Work Training Programme.

I would like to touch on some issues we tackled yesterday. First of all I would like to thank Dr. Van Zyl and Jean Power for welcoming us. I was quite nervous but from your warm welcome and kind words we are ready to promote ourselves, be advocates for our specific educational backgrounds and lastly, work very hard.

Secondly I am thankful for the opportunity of a self improvement activity like the team leaders. When it comes to public speaking or presentations I’m quite rusty in the sense that this is for real. We are introducing very important and successful people and I’m keen to learn from all the trainees’ examples on how this is done in a professional manner.

Thirdly I was very excited about our guests from the Businesswomen’s Association. It is great to know that an inspiring association like that realizes the importance of humanities and social sciences in the world of work. I enjoyed the relaxed approach by Ms Thomson. It was an enriching and fresh way of dealing with very important issues.

I have already rewritten the advice she gave us, especially the fifteen ‘Ps’. I think if we need to refer back to a guideline on how to conduct ourselves in the workplace (and personal life) and how to be resilient, the fifteen ‘P Letters’ are it. Also, as a South African woman, I’m extremely appreciative of the ongoing opportunities this prominent association provides to help women in business. Their business card is safely secured in my wallet (a very valuable contact).

Lastly I want to thank last year’s trainees for their input on their experience at the World of Work Programme. It was a great way of showing that it is going to be a tough course but the end result will offer us a string of opportunities (and contacts) for our future in the working world.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Competition Time

By the way fellow bloggers, just a little something that might interest one of you. I went to the News 24 website this morning to catch up on some news and I saw in the corner of my eye a competition for the person with the best and most interesting blog. The website is, or to reach the competition page directly, go to My blog is not up to scratch yet so I’m not sure of entering but maybe after our course I’ll have the guts to do it. Good luck if you do enter!

Light at the end of the tunnel

Last week I was jobless and had no idea what I was going to do before our World of Work training programmes would start. But I received a surprising call from Lesley saying that an organisation is already interested in interviewing me as a potential intern and they have part time work for me in the two weeks before we start our classes. I went to the interview and before I knew it I was sitting behind the computer of my new employees, the AICC.

To those of you who are not familiar with this organisation, it stands for the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship. This organisation is one of my options for the internship programme which makes me even more excited because I’ll have a hands-on experience of what it would feel like to work for them. The reason why I’m interested in the organisation is because it focuses on growth and competitiveness in the corporate world. I believe this organisation can teach me the necessary background in corporate policies in South Africa and even Africa whether it includes corporate accountability, responsibility, interaction with governments etc.

The duties I have been given is to help out with the writing of a report on Corporate Governance for the African Peer Review Mechanism. I’m currently busy with creating a database which will include all the sources needed to help finalise this report.

I’m very grateful for this experience because it is helping me understand the working world, even though its only for two weeks. It also makes my decisions on where I want to work one day much easier. As for my employer and my fellow colleagues, they have made the experience even more enjoyable. It is a relaxed and friendly environment and everyone is available when I need help.

I’m still a bit scared when I walk into the office in the mornings because I’m worried that the job I’m going to do that day is not right or up to standards. But I’m sure this feeling will pass with time when we start the internship and gain more experience. I’m very excited for the start of our training next week and to meet all the trainees. See you there.