The highlight of my first year studying at ISM was attending the program on Doing Business in Africa. It took place at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, South Africa, during the months of October and November. This was my first trip to the African continent ever, and also my first group of seminars outside of Paris with ISM. I had such a great time there. The trip was so enriching and valuable; from the quality of seminars, exploring the city and surrounding areas, culture and communities, to making lifelong friendships with other attendees of the program. I have decided to devote two blog posts to my trip to Cape Town. In this first one, I will describe the seminars. For my next post, I will share my experiences from trips as well as other activities I did in my free time there.
The program consisted of four seminars: Doing Business in Africa, Value-Based Leadership & Sustainability, Marketing in Emerging Markets, and Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship. All of them were remarkable. They were well-prepared and the content provided an enriching learning opportunity. The seminars were taught by highly experienced and knowledgeable professors. They invited many experts as guest speakers; from owners or employees of various sectors (i.e., social innovation) to experts in the relevant areas. We even had the pleasure to hear from the South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Cecil Makgoba, who spoke about his values as a leader in the Value-Based Leadership seminar. All of the presenters brought another dimension to the program, putting principles into practice by tying in their personal experiences with us.
One thing I really enjoy about attending seminars at ISM is the diversity of the participants. The program on Doing Business in Africa was no exception. The attendees came from almost all continents, with many residing on the African continent. This added a high level of tangibility to the seminars, tremendously enriched our discussions, and provided a multifarious perspective. Although I met all of the colleagues in Cape Town for the first time—albeit one—it seemed like I had known them for a long time. We always had a nice and pleasant atmosphere, with some laugher during the seminars. On weekends, we spent a fair amount of quality time together doing sightseeing, having dinners or going for trips outside of Cape Town.
I believe we couldn’t have had a better setting for this program. Honestly, I enjoyed every moment of it. I learned more in those two weeks about Africa than ever before. The experience of Cape Town left me richer not only in understanding and knowledge about Africa, but also with a changed perspective that has yielded dividends at work and in my private life. I will carry this experience with me forever.