The 2019 edition of South Africa Live took the Master’s students from the marvelous views from Table Mountain to the dynamic micro-economy of the townships and to innovative, global companies.
Every year, students in the MSc Business Information Systems have the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and experience different cultures and innovative businesses abroad.During their field trips to South Africa and Silicon Valley, they have the unique opportunity to discuss with managers from small and large companies about business challenges, strategies and digitalization.
In the following paragraphs, Nathalie Gratzer shares her standout experiences from South Africa.
Environmental Awareness & Entrepreneurial Spirit
On our journey, I did not only learn a lot, I also started getting a new mindset. The different impressions made me think about things I did not think about a lot before. For example, I found signs about saving water at every corner, toilet, bathroom, hotel etc. That made me think about the water consumption every day. These problems do not only affect South Africa, but the whole world. I believe that creating awareness about problems that stem from our behavior should be more common in Europe. The same applies to plastic consumption or recycling.
During the study tour, we visited a township and had a guide who shared his experience. I have to say the visit had two sides for me. On the one hand, I was shocked and sad to see the standard of living of the people living there. On the other hand, I was impressed by what they make out of the little they have. For example, our guide went to school and studied so hard that she graduated best of her class and had the opportunity to go to university. Additionally, it was great to see things happening in the township. We passed by a school which was built from donations, a hospital where the people from the township receive free medical treatment and a place where they can go to start their own business. In addition, we met the founder of Vollar, a company that offers jobs to everyone to earn vouchers for food. It is impressive and I think we could all take an example from people who care for others and work hard for their dreams in order to change their situation.
Company Visits and Beyond
I was quite surprised and fascinated about the company visit at SAPPI. SAPPI is a paper company and a manager told us, that they could replace thousands of workplaces with machines within a couple of days and that they even would be a lot more efficient. However, the company will not cut so many jobs because they care about their employees and their future.
During our visit to Accenture, we met some smart young professionals who just started their career at the company. Because we had so many common interests, we arranged to meet up again in the evening. It was a great experience to talk to them about culture and career opportunities in South Africa and comparing the experience of going to university and searching for a job with that in Switzerland. It really gave us a different perspective. All of us had a great time and we enjoyed expanding our horizons. By the way, we stayed at the Rockets in Johannesburg, which is a delicious restaurant and a cool bar at the same time.
Finally, I would recommend going on a safari (we went to Pilanesberg). Seeing all these animals in their natural environment is priceless and indescribably beautiful. It is definitely not comparable to going to a zoo. The feeling you get from watching wild animals is just overwhelming.