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Out and About in Johannesburg
Yellowwoods, a peacock, CPSL alumni and GIBS
27 September 2012
Driving through Johannesburg - Spring is coming
Frontage - Peter, Gary and Elspeth heading to Yellowwoods
Peacock, disturbed while courting a peahen, which has scuttled behind the car
Entwining trunks, or is it branches?
Music room, before we had the furniture rearranged
Carved fish in the garden, the pond full of (presumably bullfrog) tadpoles
Gary and fish (or vice versa)
Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), part of the quadrangle at sunset
GIBS studio, where I'm about to be processed
Horns in GIBS filming studio
Ready to go: camera and chairs
Fascinating first session with Nicola Galombik, executive director of Yellowwoods, who describe themselves as "activist shareholders." Owned by the Enthoven family, the firm has holdings in several insurance companies (e.g. Hollard, Telesure, Clientel) and hospitality firms (e.g. Nando's, Spier, Gourbet Burger Kitchens). No website, though, because they fly somewhat below the radar. Low profile or not, however, I hope to follow up with them for the book -- their approach in relation to economic, social and environmental dividends puts a positive spin on the triple bottom line.
Next, we do a 3-hour alumni event for people who have done the Cambridge Programme. We kick off with four Alumni, who shared part of their amazing stories. They were:
- Anthony Fitzhenry, who was founder and CEO of Axis (Pty) Ltd, an employee-owned IT infrastructure distributor founded in 1989. Today he is a director of the non-profit organisation Qhubeka, which promotes economic development in Southern Africa. Qhubeka has been instrumental in the assembly and distribution of more than 40,000 'Africa-proof' bicycles to rural children and health care workers in Southern Africa.
- Mzila Mthenjane, business and sustainable development director, Royal Bafokeng Management Services, whose presentation was even more interesting in the context of the grim developments recently in relation to the deaths of miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine, that has now spiralled more widely. Had been very interested to hear the story of the Bafokeng people, of their good fortune in the discovery of platinum metals on land that they had bought over time, and of the intelligent way they had managed the resulting bounty, investing heavily in education.
- Mitford Mundell, group lead, business improvement, at De Beers, who played a key role in the restructuring of Namdeb, and also was a member of the CEO's 'Harmony of Tomorrow' team, working with Future World to create long term visions and strategies for the organisation.
- Magnus Rademayer, managing director of AfriGIS, which focuses on geographical information systems, and on various applications of mobile telephony. The firm operates under the delightful tag-line of 'Everything about Everywhere.'
Arriving to find the Music Room laid out in fairly formal style, Elspeth had the tables removed and a circule of chairs created for some 35 people attending. Stunning set of presentations on four out-of-this-world initiatives/enterprises -- after which I responded and we dived into a wider discussion. Mean to develop conversations with several of the particpants.
As at other events, copies of The Zeronauts are on offer -- and I spend a good deal of time signing them for people, inclining to write fairly long dedications, tuned to each person. At one point, Elspeth warned people that I was inserting an entire new chapter. Then lunch and on to the next event.
This was at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). Once again, I met a number of people I already knew, but most were new to me -- and conversations are developing that have my brain fizzing. This event was a trailer for another GIBS are planning for February, which I am due to take part in, part of their Transnet Programme in Sustainable Development. We did this event after I had been filmed in the GIBS studio by a CNBC presenter. There was a very energetic discussion in the lecture theatre, with my presentation followed by a debate chaired by Gary.
Then a buffet dinner with many of the participants, and good wine. Am enjoying Johannesburg immensely, which contrasts to last time I was here, in the 1990s, and someone emptied an AK47 into the outside of my hotel bedroom wall: one of the most effective alarms known. The weather has been delightful, too.