June 2011 build up

Preparing for Johannesburg:

For the uninitiated, a little word on what I’m up to right now and why on earth I’m headed to Jo’burg. I’m doing an MBA for a number of reasons. To learn more about business, challenge myself intellectually, make some global business contacts, but most of all, to work out what on earth I want to do with my life professionally. It turns out an MBA is not the place to do much thinking about this kind of thing – they work you 16 hours a day and throw so much at you that thinking isn’t really an option at all! And when you get any time away from work, you’re ‘networking’ aka getting smashed in some bar until 6am (annoying Spanish time!)

The opportunity came up towards the end of term 2 to apply for a fellowship as part of the MBA programme which sounded so up my street it was practically my address! We would spend 7 weeks acting as consultants to NGOs in South Africa, living closely with 15 other fellows from IE university, and taking part in a leadership development programme that included mentoring from professional consultants, coaching and a variety of development exercises, talks and advice.

After a pretty arduous selection process (and a big night out with the the guys running the programme!) Lorne and I both got through which meant we’d be missing term 3 and heading off to South Africa instead. Both a really exciting opportunity to practice what we’d learned so far and REALLY get to know some people on the course, as well as a relief that we’d have a few weeks off reading 50 page business cases!

The 16 selected Emzingo Fellows were therefore feeling just a little bit smug about having a) a week off while everyone else started term 3 and b) 10 days of pre-program that we expected to be pretty easy…. Our smugness soon vanished when we realised that our pre-program was 9am – 7 or 8pm every day plus we had to organise a fundraiser before we left, rent out our apartment for the summer, pack, sort insurance and say goodbye to everyone.

Luckily, the pre-programme was really interesting – we had sessions on everything from mindfulness, peer-coaching and teamwork to decision making, self awareness and expectation management. The fund raiser was also a total success seeing us raise over 1800 euros the night before we were due to leave (the 4.30am bedtime wasn’t quite such a good idea when flying the next day though….. thanks Gus and Lilia!!! I blame you two and your ‘just a quick nightcap’ chat entirely!)

Luckily we didn’t have to leave for the airport until 4pm on Wednesday so enjoyed a day of last minute packing, tidying and deliberating over whether to take ipod speakers or not…. we didn’t, ERROR! But did manage to win the prize for the most luggage as took 3 kites, kiteboards, lines etc to go kiting in Mozambique after the programme finishes.

– Verity Noble, Emzingo Fellow – June 2011, Cheesekids project


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