Spent the entire week in South Africa with colleagues from our Technology and Digital teams to take part in an inaugural ‘Digital Immersion’. Organised in conjunction with The Field Institute, we spent time with a variety of companies in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
In Johannesburg we met Motus, Teraflow.ai, the Innovation Leadership Group, Covalense Global, SuperUltra and ThoughtLab. Cape Town was our base for meeting with Shoprite Holdings, Predictive Insights, Thought Machine and UVU Africa. As they say in South Africa, it was a ‘hectic’ week, with early starts, coach journeys to the venues, intense sessions, working lunches and little personal time in the evenings. By the time I got on board the plane to head home on Friday night I was ready to drop.
Although I’d been to South Africa many times over the years, I had never ventured beyond the few square miles around the airport and our offices in Johannesburg, so I was excited to head down to Cape Town. It’s a two hour flight further south, which means cooler temperatures. The cloudy and drizzly weather, along with the buildings along the sea front, reminded me of an English seaside town. The famous Table Mountain didn’t reveal itself to me until the last day because of the low-lying clouds.
People told me that from a cultural perspective, Cape Town it is akin to San Francisco; I saw a little bit of this through the weird and wonderful people at a local karaoke bar near to our hotel. I couldn’t resist getting up and trying my hand at Build Me Up Buttercup, but only after checking whether everyone else there would be likely to know it.1
On Wednesday I started feeling unwell and ended up not eating much at all for a couple of days. This made an already intense week that little bit more difficult, but by Thursday evening I had started to recover.
Aside from the companies and people that we met, there was so much value in being there in person with colleagues from across our division of our company. Old friendships were deepened, new ones were formed, and we made each other think, smile and laugh in equal measure.
It’s going to take some time to process my thoughts — and my notes — from the trip.
Next week: Normal schedule resumes, including an online Album Club and two (two!) gigs to attend.
- Wikipedia told me that it had been a number three hit in South African 1968, so I figured I was on safe-ish ground. ↩