MBA@UNC Global Immersion: Johannesburg, South Africa – Day Three

Four times a year, MBA@UNC students have a unique opportunity to attend action-packed Global Immersions to get a closer look at how business works around the world. By participating in lecture sessions, visiting important sites and engaging with their classmates, attendees are able to bring a new perspective to their studies. The students who travel to South Africa for the latest Global Immersion will spend the last day honing in on the local education system and economy, areas that impact the business framework here. How has the mixed economy evolved in this newly industrialized country? What are some of the consequences of South Africa reforming its higher education system, and how will these efforts potentially help reduce the high rate of poverty and unemployment? These are some of the topics that students will examine in the closing sessions. Join us as we blog live from the last day in South Africa.

Session One: "Economic Development"

Sean Temlett, CIO of iCampus

Sean Temlett presents the "Economic Development" session, giving students a richer and more comprehensive understanding of the major policy issues and economic development challenges that Africa faces.

About our speaker: Both the Chief Innovation Officer at iCampus and a visiting lecturer in strategic marketing at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, Sean Temlett is intent on using his real-world experience for educational purposes. He calls himself a "gapologist" — meaning he works to help companies identify new opportunities, solve problems and ultimately gain a sustainable competitive advantage. Temlett holds a gold medal for the most profitable new banking product from the International Retail Banker, the Wits Business School Award for the best lecturer at UCT and is the youngest recipient of the Permanent Bank Chairman's Award. He also negotiated and implemented the first co-branded Visa Card, the Nedbank/Voyager Visa product suite, along with Wespac's CEO Gail Kelly.

During his multi-media presentation, Sean presented a convincing argument that South Africa's economy is small, but very, very interesting. Did you know that South Africa's economy is the same size as that of North Carolina's, despite South Africa having 10 times more people (5 million vs. 50 million)? South Africa has one of the starkest disparities between the "haves" and "have nots" of any country, which means it is ripe for innovation and improvement. Sean showed us a video of Yusuf Randera-Rees, a Harvard graduate and South African native, who started Awethu. Awethu's mission is to identify and develop high-potential entrepreneurs in under-resourced South African communities. As one example, Yusuf found a former airline baggage handler (who earned nearly perfect marks on every test Yusuf gave him) who, after being given some training and support, now runs his own successful restaurant.

Sean refers to himself as a "gapologist", which means he works with students to look for human problems worth solving (gaps) and helps students figure out how to execute their ideas. In the discussion that followed Sean's presentation, you could feel the energy and optimism among us - as MBA students (and soon-to-be-graduates), we have an amazing opportunity to positively impact the world. I think we all left Sean's presentation feeling humbled and inspired to be gapologists ourselves.

This was my fourth immersion, and it was by far my favorite. Getting to talk to other students and faculty about travel, music and food -- and about how we can make a difference in the world (while drinking some of the best wine in the world), was an unforgettable experience."
Mary Ryan, July 2012 Cohort

Session Two: "African Consumer Insights: Understanding the African Consumer"

Adam Kendall, Principal, McKinsey & Company, UNC '98

About our speaker: Adam Kendall is a principal in McKinsey & Company’s sub-Saharan Office based in Johannesburg. Adam is leading McKinsey’s electric power and natural gas practice work in Sub-Saharan Africa, and does a significant amount of work in the mining sector as well. Since joining the firm in 2000, his work has focused on projects in the energy, electricity and mining sectors, with particular attention paid to capital project delivery, regulatory strategies, transformations, and operations work in emerging markets. Adam was one of the lead authors in the recently published McKinsey report: "Reverse the Curse: Maximizing the Potential of Resource-Driven Economies". He is also currently completing a report on the future of electricity on the continent.

Our final session of the Johannesburg Immersion featured Adam Kendall, UNC alum and principal with McKinsey & Company. Adam talked to us about recent consumer trends across the entire African continent. The discussion highlighted some of the key findings of McKinsey's Africa Consumer Insights study. The study identified several current trends in Africa's consumer markets. The continent's population is young, urban and mobile. These young Africans exhibit traits similar to American youth--they are image-conscious, trend-obsessed, plugged in online and educated. They make product choices using a combination of price, quality and brand recognition. The study also makes some interesting recommendations to companies looking to enter African consumer markets. One recommendation involves building loyalty for brands early. African consumers can become fiercely loyal to brands, particularly when perceived to be higher quality. A second recommendation I found particularly interesting urged companies to focus on moving into 15-20 cities rather than entire countries. With the continued migration from rural to urban areas, African cities offer new market entrants the highest concentration of consumers primed and ready to buy new products and services.

Adam's discussion, coupled with Sean Temlett's Sunday morning session on economic development, helped bring the immersion weekend full circle for me. Ade Ayeyemi, CEO of Citigroup's Sub Saharan African Division and our first speaker of the weekend, stated that emerging markets are incomplete markets. Our sessions on Sunday identified many of the gaps in South Africa's market and painted a clearer picture in my mind of the current challenges faced by the country. I walked away from this immersion weekend with a greater understanding of South Africa's tumultuous history, an appreciation for how far the country has come in the last 20 years and excitement for where it will go in the future."
Michele Pugh, October 2012 Cohort

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