On the Road with the Mason MBA: A Day in South Africa
This January, eighteen Mason MBA students traveled to South Africa for the week-long global immersion that is the culmination of MBA 795 Global Business Perspectives.
Accompanied by Professors J.K. Aier and Jessica Hoppner, the students spent time on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and met with global companies doing business in South Africa (Accenture, Ernst & Young, Johnson & Johnson) as well as South African firms looking to expand internationally–with plenty of added opportunities to experience the culture and history of Jo’burg (as the locals say).
Wednesday morning began with a visit to industrial Johannesburg and the SABMiller factory. SABMiller originated in South Africa and, through organic growth and acquisitions, has become one of the largest breweries in the world. This was my favorite company visit of the trip by far.
We met with Ruben Reddy, a Strategy Projects Manager. Ruben talked with us about SABMiller’s operations in South Africa and globally, as he spelled out their expansion strategies. We learned that the company uses applied mathematics and statistics to predict industry trends domestically and worldwide. They also research some interesting correlations between other industries and brewing–including one surprising association between fashion colors in Paris and label colors. After the strategy talk, we toured the entire facility and did a beer tasting of some of the popular South African brands. (The research had to be done.)
In the afternoon, we traveled out to rural Johannesburg to visit Lion Park. We did a driving tour in a caged vehicle, as well as a walking tour, and saw lions, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes and hyenas. We had a chance to interact with some of the lion cubs as well. That was actually a mini adrenaline rush (Lion cubs are still lions!).
South Africa is an exciting place. The history of the country in the past century and its recent pushes toward democracy make it an incredible place to visit and do business. Africa has great potential in the upcoming years. Telecom and mobile banking are becoming huge and could provide some great opportunities. We saw a lot of positive attitudes towards the future of South Africa and the continent as a whole. The trip definitely added value to my MBA experience. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go!
Professor JK Aier (back, left) in Soweto with Mason MBA students Jake Dunne, (left), Chris Smarte (center), Alex Andrusyszyn (right) and Andrew Rowland (back right).
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