This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

The WOW experience

The World of Work programme is over, but, as Lesley emphasised in our final session, it’s not the end, but only the beginning. This weekend I’ve been thinking about what I’ve found to be the most valuable aspects for me.

In the first few days of the course, Ijeoma and I both agreed that we found it difficult to talk about ourselves, particularly to people who we (then) didn’t know so well. But the one thing we’ve all done a lot of in this course is talk about ourselves. Every time a guest lecturer arrived, we almost always had to say briefly who we were. Most wanted our names only; others wanted to know a bit more. And through the course I’ve learnt how important it is to be able to present ourselves to the world confidently and openly, especially to potential employers. If I’m not able to share with someone what I’m really interested in, they usually won’t spend too much time worrying about drawing the information from me.

The simple act of repeatedly introducing myself has really helped to build my confidence, and learning about the current trends in the work place has helped to provide a solid platform from which to launch into the “big bad world”.

As a group we’ve been really interactive, as one of our speakers commented. I particularly enjoyed Kuseni Dlamini’s session, where he encouraged us to participate in discussion with his provocative suggestions. The discussion he facilitated brought out each person’s particular strengths, as we all spoke with passion and insight into the questions at hand. We participated as intellectual equals, while each person was able to make a valuable contribution to the group, as we were all encouraged to speak.

It was a privilege to be part of a group of people who comes from all over Africa and other parts of the world. Previously, I hadn’t had the opportunity to mix with such a diverse group- everyone brought to the table a different perspective, yet will still managed to form a cohesive team and build some good friendships. Dlamini’s session showed me that our disagreements and differences of opinion were valuable because they stimulated debate, and that it is possible to challenge each other but still form a connected group.
The experience helped to prepare me for the variety of people I will no doubt interact and work with when I enter into the world of work.

These two things speak simply to the process of being part of this programme, without even beginning to touch on the lessons learnt on a content level. It’s difficult to place a value on these things in monetary terms, but the course was worth much more than the R1000 we all paid for it.


Thomas Blaser said...

Exposure to difference is indeed a meaningful experience. Interactions were intensive and I think we all learnt much about ourselves and others.

Valentin said...

Dear Susan, you've taken the words straight from my mouth.
I feel exactly the same way as you describe. Your confession is both very sincere and full of passion.
Unfortunately, yes, the WOW has come to an end, believe it or not.
But we should still keep these social bonds alive and extend them as much as possible.
Because this is what makes us strong together and meaningul to others! And yet, meaningful to ourselves! Let it be!

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Hi Suse,
You're spot on as usual. It was indeed a wonderful experience and like yourself I also gained more confidence to speak about myself boldly. We all have our individual personalities, backgrounds and cultures, but we made it look so easy working together as a group. There were no major personality clashes and no 'prima donnas'. I do hope we build on this relationships we have started. It takes a lot of work and commitment. We must expect that some people will not be able to keep up with the emailing, phone calls etc. But anyone who can should please do so.