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.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Reading, reading, reading - an updated version

I've added some more detail on this post at the end... so read on even if you've read this before!

Working at a communications firm like Brunswick, it's important to be very familiar with the media. So far a number of the things I've been doing have revolved around that, for example at the moment I'm working on putting together detailed profiles for the major and influential South African publications. Yesterday I was looking at Maverick magazine and I thought it was really great. Its style is quite flamboyant and chatty and it has some great business profiles- when you have a chance I suggest you have a look. Perhaps we could add some to the book club.

At Brunswick we are encouraged to read the Business Day and the Business Report every morning, while the FM and Finweek circulate weekly, and other magazines also come to the office. We do this to know what's happening in the world, but also to keep tabs on any coverage on Brunswick clients. Often the research team (which I'm on) will need to put together a media pack with an analysis, so that the clients and their advisors can monitor what the public's perception will be. I think that being a regular reader is a great habit to get into, not just for communications people, but to learn about and become familiar with the business world. Being in the office has increased my interest in business and the news, because what I'm reading about now has some relevance for me. Since WOW I've also enjoyed reading about African politics, since it was often a hot topic of conversation during our sessions.

There are a lot of terms I don't understand - especially financial ones- but through a slow process of reading and asking questions I'm building up a 'business knowledge' base. The book club will be a great help to. I went to an annual results announcement for Omnia, a chemicals, fertiliser, and mining company, on Wednesday. The results announcement is an overview of how the company has performed that year, and includes a lot of financial data. I brought back their information pack and sat with Rachel, my "god parent" (a Brunswick term for mentor) and talk through some of the things I didn't understand - so I'm getting a bit of 'finance 101'.

At the Omnia results Rod Humphris, the Executive Director, briefly discussed how the demand for bio-fuels impacted on their business. I was interested to see how many dynamics influence a company's performance. Economically, because there is a demand for bio-fuels, which is produced from maize, the maize price goes up globally, which affects our food prices and the cost of fertilizer, which affects Omnia... (As I try to think through this I'm casting my mind back to the "Economics for Non-Specialists" course I did in first year varsity!)

On the way home from the results I was chatting to Taryn (person who works on Omnia account) about it and she asked me to do a short research project on what's happening with bio-fuels in South Africa, for inclusion in the Omnia annual report. I'm looking forward to it as it's very topical at the moment. I will keep you posted on my findings via my blog! Read more about Omnia at


Lesley said...

I also enjoy Maverick (Note to self - maybe a subscription to Maverick would be a great gift to the Intern of the Year 2008?).
Fantastic to read about your process of building a business knowledge base.

Adam N. Mukendi said...

That's great SUE,
I think that what you are learning there will help use for the book project. Many people are not interested in busness readings but I think all of us should be these days. I am happy and wish that you find fun in your job. Someone told me this week that if you can play and work; that is a sign that the job you in it's your ideal one. You will be like fish in water and then can be the best. What do you think?

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

It's interesting how lazy we 'academics' get when we have to read more 'secular' information. The WOW programme really helped me get started but now I've stopped again. I listen to business news, the markets and so on. I like knowing what's going on but I don't really sit and read through every page. It's a good habit to get into. Thank you for emphasising that. It appears that you are rising to the challenges presented in your new role. More grease...

Valentin said...

Susan, I think that this internship will help you a lot with your knowledge base, your writing etc.
It seems that you are encoraged to read a lot and participate in very interesting tasks and projects related to writing and publishing.
I belive this is what you enjoy to do a lot.
I hope that this internship will be really helpful towards the realization of your goals and dreams in the near future.

Thomas Blaser said...

Thanks for the insightful posting. I am doing the same thing: reading all English-language daily papers every morning (except the 'daily Sun') and keep track of my area of research. It looks like I will be the education and politics 'specialist' so I need to keep abreast of these areas in order to serve clients. And I really enjoy reading the Financial Mail, it was a good move by WoW to get it.