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

At this year’s Global Immersion in South Africa, a number of experts and thought leaders will convene to provide participants with a multidimensional understanding of current conditions in this country. While examining and analyzing the issues and opportunities unique to South Africa, MBA@UNC students will be able to enrich their knowledge of business, economics and other subjects. On day two, participants have the opportunity to explore Soweto, stopping at multiple historically and culturally significant sites along the way. Combined, the lectures and the tour give students a more comprehensive understanding of the past, present and future of South Africa. Find out more about these insights as we blog live from the events.

Session One: "Health Crisis in Africa"

Murray Cairans, Principal Tutor, University of the Witwatersrand

About our speaker: As the academic lead of the Master's in Management at the University of the Witwatersrand, Murray Cairns works with master's students to structure research problems and develop and draft proposals. This year, Cairns began leading the operation of a writing center for postgraduate students to help them fine-tune their communication skills and construct more meaningful reports and reviews. While the majority of courses on this subject deal only with the biological aspects of HIV, Cairns aims to delve more deeply into the broad implications of the disease.

Alex van den Heever, Chair: Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

About our speaker: Professor Alex van den Heever presently holds the Chair of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He holds a Masters in economics from the University of Cape Town and has worked in the areas of health economics and finance, public finance and social security in various capacities over the past 24 years. This includes participation in the Melamet Commission of Inquiry into Medical Schemes, the Taylor Committee of Inquiry into Comprehensive Social Security, and the Ministerial Task Finance team on Social Health Insurance. He has also held positions in the Department of Finance (Central Economic Advisory Services), the Industrial Development Corporation, the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Gauteng Department of Health. Over the period of 2000 to 2010 he worked as an advisor to the Council for Medical Schemes, which he was responsible for establishing, and in an advisory capacity to the social security policy processes (including the Department of Social Development, the National Treasury, and the inter-departmental Task Team on Social Security) taking forward the recommendations of the Taylor Committee.

Murray Cairns provided a nice overview of the molecular mechanisms of HIV infection that brought me back to my days of undergraduate biology class. However, his message was much deeper than just biology. Cairns placed a magnifying glass on a problem that he feels isn't given the sense of urgency it needs. It is not about the population statistics that peg the HIV infection rates around 15-18 percent or the fact that 100 percent of the population is affected directly or indirectly by HIV here in South Africa. It is about the individual and their journey and our responsibility as managers and leaders to bring hope and a future to those that are dealing with this disease. The immersions are a key differentiator of the MBA@UNC program. Not only do they provide a great opportunity to network with fellow members of the program, but they also provide us with great opportunities to interact with global leaders and experts to gain insight and experience in a broad range of issues and environments first hand." -Matt Dyer, January 2014 Cohort

Session Two: "South Africa in a Post Mandela World"

Clive Glaser, Associate Professor, University of Witwatersrand

About our speaker: Clive Glaser lectures in history at Witwatersrand University, South Africa. He has published widely on the history of youth politics, youth culture, crime, and sexuality in South Africa. He is the author of Bo-Tsotsi: The Youth Gangs of Soweto, 1935 – 1976, The African National Congress Youth League: A Jacana Pocket History, and coauthor of Challenge and Victory, 1980 – 1990, volume 6 in the series From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882 – 1990.

Few countries have a culture and history as ancient yet modern, divisive yet unified, and complex yet simple as that of South Africa. Covering over 100 years in just a single hour, Professor Clive Glaser managed to still give an honest and brutal synopsis of the building blocks that brought the Nationalist Party into power and institutionalized the ethnic divide via apartheid. Typical of MBA@UNC, the classroom experience rapidly turned to real world application as we walked in the footsteps through Soweto on a guided tour of where student riots set into motion the rise of the new Rainbow Nation – a reimagined South Africa based on equality and unity. Despite apartheid’s tumultuous toppling 20 years ago and signs of true progress, the trace marks on society and culture are pervasive, from continuing segmented neighborhoods, to clashing wealth and poverty, to the stark differences between public and private sectors. As in the other two immersions I have attended so far, I was surprised at how easy it is to bond with classmates from all cohorts and industries when put in difficult and challenging situations like this one. Their broad experiences, wisdom and perceptiveness bring to mind the prevalent South African phrase and philosophy of ubuntu, 'I am because we are', and I couldn’t agree more." -Zak Kaylor, July 2013 Cohort

Soweto Tour, Johannesburg, South Africa

The tour of Soweto will include a trip to a number of notable sites, such as the Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum, which covers the events leading up to the anti-Afrikaans Soweto Uprising, and the Baragwaneth Taxi Rank and Traders' Market, a space which incorporates innovative architecture and inspiring public artwork. Attendees will also have the chance to go to the historical Freedom Square and see the Freedom Charter Memorial, or the "Congress of the People" — an alternate answer to the oppressive apartheid policies. The tour then continues with a stop at the Soweto Kliptown Youth Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at providing hope and services for neglected youth in South Africa. Finally, participants will stroll down Soweto's famous Vilakazi Street, which tells the rich history of the region and recently underwent a major makeover, making it a top attraction for enjoying nature and admiring commemorative artwork tied to the local heritage. Soweto MBA@UNC students at Soweto and the Hector Pieterson Museum MBA@UNC students visit to Kliptown Youth Program in Soweto

In day two of our Johannesburg immersion, our group shifted from talking about growth strategies in developing markets to the specific challenges South Africa faces. We started the day talking about HIV/AIDS and other health-related challenges and then moved on to a discussion of the post-apartheid environment. We brought all the content together with several site visits in the afternoon. Without a doubt, the most memorable visit was the the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in Soweto. Kliptown is an area that struggles with extreme poverty, health issues, as well as insufficient education and nutrition. KYP was established by local residents to help provide resources and a safe haven to children of all ages in that community. The program provides educational assistance and supplies, additional food and recreational opportunities for the children. While visiting, we were treated to a traditional step dancing performance, a tour and time to play soccer and visit with the children. It was amazing and inspiring to see KYP in action, and the experience provided a wonderful bonding opportunity for all of my classmates. The setting was so different from our typical academic setting that it brought out new sides of my peers we don't usually see. Every immersion is a great opportunity for networking and connecting, building our community and getting everyone excited for the next quarter, but sharing this emotional experience really deepened our relationships and made us grateful for the blessings we have. After day two, I would say the resounding message of the weekend was about hope and optimism. No matter what challenges we face as an individual, a neighborhood or a market - be it economic, educational, health or social - as business leaders, one of the best ways we can influence our environment is to focus on investments that create hope for communities and compassionate policies that create hope for people." -Lindsay Konte, April 2013 Cohort

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