Tragedy has a way of getting people united. During the middle of quarter 1, 2015, the Cape Peninsula was gripped by extensive wild fires. Like dominos, it started initially on a part of Table Mountain range, then Lion’s Head and one part of the mountain range followed after another until the whole area was just thick in smoke.
During this time, my family lived in an area that epitomised Cape Town: just below the Silvermine mountain range but almost on the beach. In our street, we had organized ourselves exactly as we did back in the township in the early 90’s. We patrolled the street and monitored all movement with constant by the minute communication using instant messaging mobile apps. Nothing passed through our street without our knowledge and our leader (more like street commander), James would go as far as tell us Chapman’s open for traffic – which made sense given the level of closures during that period. It was this level of organization that made me personally experience a different side of Cape people and in the process left me grateful to live among this lot on that little street on the southern tip of the African continent.
When the fire finally reached our neck of the woods, it had been going for about three weeks. As such, nothing was shocking anymore. By this time, we also received news of two houses that were burnt to the ground (no lives lost). One of these houses was a few streets away from our house and therefore as the young people like to say, “it got real”. The whole neighborhood was on high alert. I’m talking day and night with constant news feed on where the fire is, incidents (big or small) and do’s and don’t ‘s from the street patrol team.
Two days before @bpesa’s Annual BPM Summit (#BPO2SA), our neighbour Gerry frantically rang the bell at our gate at 1h15 in the morning. I casually walked to the intercom and answered (almost half asleep) wondering who it could be that time of the night. “I saw your lights are off and you are not responding on WhatsApp group, so I was wondering if you are almost done to vacate? Everyone is gone and I was just getting my dogs”. I know what you are thinking, right? My thoughts exactly that early morning! It turns out, James (our street commander) had been mornitoring the fire the whole night and had been issuing instructions to all families in the street. The last one instruction, issued an hour earlier was “evacuate immediately. Take essentials and drive to the beach or the sports ground. Drive slowly as visibility is very poor.” In 15 minutes, we had worked out what we would let burn with house and what would fit into two cars on which we can survive until a plan is hashed out. A wake up call! Apparently my trusted top end imported stereo sound system is not as valuable as an external hard drive with my family pictures. Who knew!
Despite the drama of the Cape fires, we managed to pull off one of the most succeful industry Summits with a cross section of Business Process Management (BPM) encompassing public sector, private sector, domestic, international, operators, vendors, analysts and the media. It was here that I took the first public role as facilitating a panel talking capacity in terms skills pipeline to enable BPM to scale nationally.
Please see more here from the Summit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2iuSeP7Z20. From conversations had afterwards, the panelists had as much a great time as I had.
The following tweets capture the sense of how the market received the Summit globally.
During the month of love (February…not that I’m that much into Valentine’s and such like frivolity), a lot of work went into preparation for The BPM Annual Summit which took place in March. It was during that month that I shared the load for a first time with Gareth Pritchard (@bpesact), BPESA Western CEO and then national interim CEO.
In February 2015, I was tasked specifically with representing the office of the national CEO in the UK. As Gareth hopped on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona in the US for global conference, I jetted into Heathrow, London for a short business engagement. I was hosted by the South African High Commissioner, Dr Obed Mlaba and The DTI’s Ms Thobile Mazibuko at SA House, London. This trip was also a sneak peek into the UK, its people, history and culture.
For this engagement, myself, George Todd and Lisa Roos from Merchants SA as well as Alan Graham and Alisa Evans of Mind Pearl formed the South African delegation. We were joined by some of the top blue chip brands on the client and technology vendors.
Officially as at the end of 2014, I was gainfully involved as follows: Director -Kezia Consulting Group, Board Member -BPESA Western Cape (@bpesact) , Advisory Board Member -BLDE Consulting, Trustee -Ubuntu Wellness Trust and Founder/Chairman – Spirit Dominion Foundation. I also took on a few young people on a mentorship programme to help shape SMME space directly. From the onset, the year 2015 was going to be extremely busy indeed.
As the year 2015 opened, I was invited as a Board Member of BPESA Western Cape to accompany BPESA Western Cape CEO (and then interim national CEO of BPESA), Gareth Pritchard hosted by Achievement Awards COO, Barry Coltman at their facility in Cape Town. The guests for the day were, MBA students from Cornell University in New York and we presented on South Africa as a business opportunity from a global perspective. For obvious reasons, we zoned in on BPO sector and how that has managed to attract circa 25 000 jobs (and counting) into the country from mainly the UK and parts of Europe. #2015Reminiscence
I also shared the following through micro blobbing platform, Twitter:
More about the School
The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management is the graduate business school of Cornell University, a private Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York. It was founded in 1946 and renamed in 1984 after Samuel Curtis Johnson, founder of S.C. Johnson & Son, following his family’s $20 million endowment gift to the school in his honor—at the time, the largest gift to any business school in the world.
The school is housed in Sage Hall and supports 59 full-time faculty members. There are about 600 Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in the full-time two-year and Accelerated MBA programs and 375 Executive MBA students. The school counts over 11,000 alumni and publishes the academic journal Administrative Science Quarterly.
When I was still engaged in corporates in a conventional sort of way, i would open the year with a nice wrap up of the previous year followed by a sense of what is coming in the current year and most importantly first Quarter. I always assumed every leader did this sort of thing though my experience has been some of the people i worked with/ worked for did not bother.
So, without letting out too much around my own views of the space i occupy now versus those days, i will attempt to do the same combining my official, personal, social activities and moments in between to review 2015 as well as what is to come in 2016. These will be shared over a series of posts themed #2015Reminiscence to thread the various moments together.
Enjoy as you share in my my journey.