Friday, June 17, 2011

skipping term 3 with Emzingo!

So getting Blogger on my iPhone didn't help me blog more... but I have to say I had quite a worthy distraction, a distraction much more interesting than term 2 classes. I was preparing for my summer internship in South Africa!

I was accepted for a summer fellowship with the Emzingo Group, a company started in 2009 by IE grads to promote sustainable leadership development. The program started with a 7 day orientation program in Madrid during which all 16 of the fellows got to know seach other and start our journey of personal development this fellowship is intended to foster. The orientation seminars introduced interesting self-awareness topics like Theory U and mindfulness, but also gave us a good introduction to the history, economy, and culture of South Africa. The week was extremely well organized and made me genuinely reflect in new ways on my passions, on my own self-awareness, on my existing leadership skills, and on what skills I want and need to develop.

Now it's been a full week since we arrived in Johannesburg, we've seen some of the local sites like the Apartheid Museum, the Ellis Park Stadium from the movie Invictus... and we've started working! All of the fellows have been grouped into teams of 2 and assigned according to our preferences to a local NGO or social enterprise.

I'll be consulting for a volunteer event planning organization called CheeseKids for Humanity. CheeseKids used to be a derogatory term for rich kids in South Africa because they are the ones who could afford to pack cheese in their school lunches. The organization has embraced the term and aims to foster volunteerism and social awareness among South Africa's next generation of political and economic leaders. My partner and I are going to perform a bird's-eye-view strategic analysis on the organization's largest annual event, Nelson Mandela Day.  Our consulting deliverables will include an environmental and social impact analysis and strategic plan, an analysis on and suggestions for the marketing of this event, and a start on a Mandela Day handbook for future CheeseKid employees as the organization continues to grow across South Africa. I am really excited about working with this organization because I think the founder, Shaka Sisulu, seems to have great vision, drive, and experience. I'm also looking forward to hopefully understand how he's created a "cool" social movement so that one day when I figure out exactly what I want to "fight for," I too can be effective at mobilizing people.

Our work week is complemented by evening seminars with staff from the local business school at Wits University and from professionals working on corporate social responsibility in firms like Deloitte and SABMiller.

There's so many things I want to share from this experience, but for now, I'll limit myself to saying that I think I am going to learn a lot about myself and what I want to do with my life, about South Africa, about the 15 other fellows, and about strategic consulting. Everyone on this trip, including the two Emzingo organizers, is extremely talented and so far we are sharing a lot - both in terms of knowledge and fun!

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