MBA@UNC Global Immersion: Johannesburg, South Africa - Day One

The Global Immersions are just one component that differentiates MBA@UNC from other top MBA programs. These dynamic three-day weekends are packed with events that allow students to engage with business leaders from around the world, while connecting more deeply with fellow students and faculty. The trip to South Africa features a number of guest speakers who will give students a rich understanding of the country's business landscape and explain how the region's business environment can be understood in a global context. We’ll be live blogging from these events to give you an inside look at the MBA@UNC immersion experience.

Session One: “Navigating Africa's Financial Markets”

Ade Ayeyemi, CEO for Sub-Saharan Africa Citibank

Ade Ayeyemi speaking to MBA@UNC immersion students about the financial landscape in Africa, identifying obstacles to development and highlighting the necessary measures for reconciling these issues on a local and international level.

About our speaker: After being named CEO of Citibank's Sub-Saharan Africa division in 2013, Ade Ayeyemi is now in charge of managing all of the corporation's business in the region. Based in Johannesburg, the banking division has already set up franchises in 12 countries and conducts business across 14 other nations. With a BS in accounting from Nigeria's University of Ife, a graduate degree from the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School, and an MSC in Financial Management from the University of London, Ayeyemi brings a wealth of expertise in regard to business strategy, process engineering and technology. He has been with Citigroup for 25 years, helping the business grow through diverse roles as treasury operations head, senior country officer and technology head.

Ade Ayeyemi’s overview of the financial markets of Africa was a great way to kick off the Johannesburg Global Immersion. As Citibank’s CEO for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Ayeyemi was able to give us an excellent perspective on the financial markets of Africa. In his presentation he explained to us some of the key challenges to doing business in Africa today. The lack of independent financial information on companies, the instability of the governments in certain African countries and the level of corruption are all factors that make it difficult to conduct business in Africa. There are, however, tremendous opportunities for the continent. He highlighted the rapid growth of African economies, the young work force and the access to raw materials and commodities as key factors that will help Africa continue to grow.

Mr. Ayeyemi’s presentation was a great example of why I choose to attend immersions. The quality of speakers that present during immersions help bring what I have learned in the program to life. By attending an immersion in Johannesburg, I have been able to learn more about the exciting opportunities that doing business in Africa presents in a way that would never be possible in a classroom. -Patrick Thompson, July 2013 Cohort


Session Two: “Navigating Africa's Financial Markets”

Dave Roberts, MBA@UNC Assistant Professor of Marketing

Dave Roberts, @MBAatUNC assistant professor of marketing, comments on opportunities for development in underprivileged countries.

About our speaker: After spending more than 25 years assisting organizations with elevating their performance in sales, sales consulting and sales management, Dave Roberts came to UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School to develop a distinct sales discipline curriculum to supplement the finance and marketing departments. Over his 16 years of experience with specialist sales consulting companies, he has made impressive strides in helping clients from IBM and Microsoft to Avaya and United Health Group to see results from optimizing new strategies. His classes focus on how to influence company stakeholders to make change.      

We had a great session yesterday with Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Marketing Professor Dave Roberts. The topic was “Growth in a Third World Environment”, and the session offered interesting insight into how to develop an effective growth strategy. We kicked off the discussion by defining “third world” and then, given our location for this international immersion, we compared South Africa to that definition. Finally, Professor Roberts presented a general framework for achieving growth and challenged us to work in small groups to develop a growth strategy for the MBA@UNC program. Not only was it a fun, interactive and challenging topic, but the exercise greatly reflected the amount of teamwork that is involved in this program. Though many might think that online education is not conducive to teamwork, today’s session made it clear that the collaboration and community among classmates is one of the foundations of the MBA@UNC program. Another great thing about this session was that each group came up with very unique and innovative designs for their final target segment and growth strategy. The broad range of ideas that were presented was certainly indicative of the diverse student body and our differing career paths! -Katie Papendick, July 2013 Cohort

MBA@UNC students working on a team project during Professor Dave Roberts' session - "Building a Growth Plan"


Session Three: “South Africa's Potential for Sustainable Growth Through Innovation”

Raldu Nel, Founder and Managing Director or Blank Canvas International (BCI)

About our speaker: Raldu is the Founder and Managing Director of Blank Canvas International (BCI), a Proudly South African Management Consultancy offering World-class Innovation for Sustainability™ Culture Transition Programmes. BCI guides and coaches clients across Industry to Strategically Balance Idea and Project Portfolios as underpinned by the 6 Capitals Model, including human, social, natural, intellectual, financial and manufactured capital development initiatives. The BCI Team has a passion for Co-creating Solutions through applying Innovation and Design Thinking for Sustainability, as well as Leading the Implementation of Culture Transition Programmes unlocking Inclusive Wealth. BCI, in coalition with Frost & Sullivan and the Change Agent, is currently co-directing and spearheading Sustain our Africa (SOA), a active sustainability collaboration network, which acts as a catalyst for change.

One of my favorite speakers at the Africa immersion was Raldu Nel, founder of Black Canvas International. Naldu spoke to the group about visionary innovation and visionary leadership in a changing Africa. We discussed global mega-trends, trends in Africa and the idea of choosing the most sustainable solutions for South Africa. The idea of leading a country into the future when the necessary tools haven’t even been invented yet requires a real paradigm shift in true leadership. And the fact that the entire group was currently immersed in the South African people and culture only further drove home this powerful idea. All of the immersions at MBA@UNC are incredibly eye opening and inspiring. Traveling to every corner of the globe with your classmates and professors truly creates a unique bond that I have not experienced in any other educational program. -Sharif El-Mahdi, April 2012 Cohort

World of Beer Tour

Newtown, Johannesburg, South Africa

Our visit to the World of Beer brewery in Johannesburg was a unique experience. Not only did we learn about the brewing and business intricacies behind one of the world’s largest breweries, but we also managed to bond with our entire immersion group as well. Passing around a clay pot of ancient-recipe brew, tasting bitter raw hops and buying schwag in the gift shop after some free beers-- these were all fun events that shared as a group. The immersions at MBA@UNC really do create a special bond between classmates, professors and even locals. I would not trade my experience in this program for anything. -Sharif El-Mahdi, April 2012 Cohort

Read more: Global Immersion: Johannesburg, South Africa - Day Two Global Immersion: Johannesburg, South Africa - Day Three