ACADEMIC STUDY TOURS TO SOUTH AFRICA
I have had the privilege of developing study tours for approximately 120 MBA groups between 2007 and 2014. These range from schools from China and Latvia, to groups from the USA and Canada. Other popular countries of origin include France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and Denmark.
South Africa is becoming a popular destination for business schools and corporations from abroad. It has come through a turbulent period of unrest in the seventies and eighties, became a democracy in 1994, and has since then become a success story. The objective of this document is give the reader a taste of what you would be able to experience in South Africa during your visit to South Africa.
Typical industries that could be visited during a visit to the Western Cape include the following:
- Access to the wine industry, with different companies using different business models, with the typical challenges and opportunities we face in competing against the other wine producing companies of the world.
- Access to our food retail business, which is dominated by 5 large companies. They target different segments of the market, with the support of the large black part of the population becoming very important, as well as the support of the rapidly growing black middle class.
- Access to the top financial services groups in South Africa, such as Old Mutual (which has its head office in London), Sanlam and Metropolitan (all 3 are insurance houses). It is also possible to organise access to the large banks.
- Access to SAB Miller, the world’s largest brewer.
- Access to our media industry.
- Access to our health industry (both state and private hospital industries).
- Access to our diamond industry in the Western Cape (the head office of De Beers Marine is in the Western Cape, as is the head office of Trans Hex).
- Access to the fruit industry (apples and pears).
- Access to entrepreneurs at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BOP)
- Access to a multi-cultural experience, with visits to our townships.
I organise company visits to these industries. I also arrange live case studies where the students are given the opportunity to research the industry and company in advance, then get access to the senior management of the company to ask questions and get presentations, where-after the students get the opportunity to advise the senior management of the company on where the company should be concentrating on in the future. Some business schools request 2 or more live case studies (some times up to 6) to facilitate the learning and force all the students to be involved. The choice is with the client. I also differentiate between live case studies and mere company visits. With the live case studies, the students act as consultants and provide the company with feedback on how to tackle identified business issues.
On the academic side, I typically arrange exposure to the following:
- International business consulting
- Strategy in South Africa
- Typical business models in South Africa
- The economic environment of South Africa, the past, the present and the prognosis for the future
- Political issues in South Africa
- Leadership, values and culture in South Africa
- Managing in a multi-cultural environment
- Managing diversity
- A systemic approach to business in South Africa
- Marketing in South Africa, with exposure to our typical market segments
- Scenarios in South Africa
- Guest speakers on various other issues, such as innovation in ICT in Africa today
The academic side and the company visits/live case studies are combined to give the students the best possible experience.
I also arrange informal discussions with local business people in a relaxed environment, such as at a barbecue at a relaxing venue.
I believe the above experience will give the students the following possible outcomes:
- A keen understanding of the dynamics of the selected industries and companies. This includes the issues of people management, marketing, value chain and supply chain issues, to name but a few.
- The challenges the country faces in the economic and social environment.
- A keen understanding of the challenges brought about by our multi-cultural and diverse society.
- Understanding South Africa as the gateway to Africa – the economy and infrastructure, poverty, education and development.
- The need for entrepreneurship.
Should it be required, it also possible to arrange for visits to the northern parts of the country, with visits to companies in this part as well, e.g. gold mines, coal mines, vehicle manufacturing, mobile telephony companies, etc. Combining a visit to the Kruger National Park with academic content is also possible. In this visit, business lessons from nature is dealt with during discussions with the students.
Obviously all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Therefore visits to Table Mountain, Robben Island, shark cage diving, whale watching (depending on the season), game farms, etc. are always a possibility.
The above choices will be dealt with within the framework provided by the objectives of the institution involved. The client’s needs determine the detail programme.
On the logistics side, accommodation, meals and transportation are arranged as well, according to the needs of the institution involved.