Thursday, 27 November 2008

The beginning of the second week

On Monday we woke up early after a pleasant sleep. Last weekend was so much fun! But now it was time for some work. We ate a little breakfast and got dressed up. After the basic routines we headed again to the SAP Offices. There we met Max and Sheena. Sheena Ramphal took us to building 5 and showed us our desks and the place to work.

It was a nice office with plenty of deskspace. So we got our desks and got a little time to discuss about our interesting project before Max and the Idean group came. After a nice discussion with Max we had a lot more information about what they are expecting us to do and agreed about the details. Then everyone was happy and we headed back to the building 1 to have a lunch. It was a nice place to eat either inside or outside. We ate and got back home.

On Tuesday, we worked at the Colbyn Guest Lodge. We realized that it was just too much for our budget here in RSA, to travel to Woodmead five days a week, and so we now on try to minimize the trips to the SAP offices. We worked with the project plan, and prepared ourselves for Wednesday, when we visited the SAP Research Center to meet with some students.

On Wednesday, we planned to visit the SAP Research Centre in the Technology Park in Pretoria. Unfortunately, we first went to the Meraka Institute in CSIR research area, where we were though warmly welcomed. In a minute, we found out that we were in the wrong place without our drivers, and the nice lady had just thought that we were part of the SAFIPA project group. After the misunderstandings, we phoned Danie Kok, who was kind enough to pick us up with Elmarie and drive us to the right location.

After everyone had found their way, we joined a group of students who work at the research centre, and along the day we listened to a lot of presentations about the research topics they are researching for their Ph.D. We had lunch and continued with the presentations, and after the day was completed, we had a little discussion how we could co-operate in the future. After a long day, Max offered us something to eat, and then we headed back to Colbyn to gather our thoughts of the day.

The first picture of us with Max. From the left:
Hanna, Juuso, Katariina, Janne, Max, Jussi and Anniina

Today we went to visit the CIDA Campus in the centre of Johannesburg. The CIDA ICT Academy is a university, which gets funding from companies, such as SAP, Cisco Systems Networks, Sun Microsystems, T-Systems, CompTIA, DEG and so on. The students have usually very rural backgrounds, where the parents haven’t had the opportunity to support their children financially. CIDA takes around 200 new students to study the programmes every year.

The CIDA ICT Academy gives the students basic IT knowledge during the first year. After that the students choose their specialisation for the next two years. The options are the SAP training, the Cisco training and the Java training. The students get the Bachelor’s degree after that.

First we gathered in a meeting room with Max, the Senior Manager Marketing Nesan Chetty, ICT Academy Manager Khulu Ntuli, a former student who now works in the marketing section of CIDA and a couple of 3rd year students. They showed us a video of CIDA, Max showed them a video from the User Group Meeting, which was held in August 2008 and then we had our presentation about our project, our school and Finland generally. We find CIDA a great concept, that can help lots of people and also slowly reduce the unemployment number in South Africa by increasing the skills and knowledge of young people. We hope that CIDA gets more support and recognizability.

We met some SAP students at the CIDA campus

After the meeting we got toured around the campus and after that we went to have a lunch in an Italian restaurant. The food was good, which we could expect after all the other places we’ve eaten in already. Then we went back to the campus and met some students, who study the SAP programme. We had a great discussion. They answered our questions about SAP, their future plans and studying generally. The atmosphere was very welcoming and warm and the students were great. They were really curious about Finland, so we of course showed them some pictures. We might see them again on Saturday, when they are having the CIDA Sports Day, but we’ll see. Now we’re just waiting anxiously for tomorrow, because we’re going to visit Soweto

Monday, 24 November 2008

First weekend in RSA

Saturday morning, finally recovered well after a long, long flight. Max came to our place at noon, and introduced us to our driver Dingani, who was really a nice guy and he told us that we can call him whenever we needed a drive. Max invited us to watch some live Jazz music to a place called Brooklyn Espresso in Silver Lakes.

When the sun set, we headed to Brooklyn Espresso and got a very pleasant ride from our driver. Music started playing and we were very enthused. We met a wonderful singer Linda Kekana during her break and she sold us some of her records. Soon as she got back to the stage, she announced that there are some Finnish guests, and warmly welcomed us to the country. Close to the end she even dared Janne to get up, take off his shoes and come to dance with her to the front. Night was amazing and very memorable!

So, did Janne dare?

On sunday we went to a local mall called Menlyn Park. The mall was really huge and european / american like. It's funny to see how the stores were decorated for christmas, when you've gotten used to the "fact", that christmas comes with snow. After wandering around the mall for couple hours we bought some clothes better suitable for the weather around here, went back to Colbyn Guest house and spent rest of the day resting and preparing for the start of the new week.

A view from the Menlyn Park mall

Saturday, 22 November 2008

First days in South Africa

We arrived in JoBurg at around Thursday noon. Our transportation from the airport departed at two o'clock, and we instantly got a picture of the African road culture. Because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, the highways were under a lot of construction. It took nearly 2 hours (with a short pit-stop) to get to the Colbyn Guest Lodge in Pretoria, where our group is staying for the whole trip.

As soon as we arrived, we got a message from Max Fuzani, our contact person in our co-operation company SAP. He was going to visit us in about two hours, and inform us about our visitation to the SAP offices at JoBurg on Friday. We just got our stuff unpacked, grabbed something to eat, and if like suddenly, there was this gentleman standing behind our door. After introductions, we quickly realized that this was the project, and the person we had been hoping for. We got the schedule and found out a bit of the visit to the SAP Office Park in Woodmead, JoBurg.

We woke up early in the morning, freshened ourselves up, and headed for the office. We felt warmly welcomed, and waited for a short while for the other team to arrive. After everybody had found their way to the offices, we all gathered in a meeting room. There were members of the University Alliances-, and Global Communications teams. We introduced ourselves to the teams, listened some lectures about SAP operations in Africa. The day gave us a general image of our project, and was very enjoyable.

SAP Office Park in Woodmead

At the end of the day, SAP arranged a business lunch in Melrose JoBurg. We were accompanied by Max's ex-colleague from the deparment of education. The lunch was fantastic, we got a glimpse of the fine African wine culture, and some delicious food. After lunch, we headed back to Pretoria, eagerly waiting for the next day and what it will contain.

Our project team

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

South-Africa here we come!

Last day in Finland. Tomorrow our flight is going to departure at 15:30 and it's going to be a long flight. I have only 18 hours left and i haven't still started packing.

On Friday we will visit the Sap office in Johannesburg. Little bit nervous. I probably should write a speech just in case. Improvising speeches is not my best ability.

I have great hopes for the Sap project. The project is so interesting. We are asked to help setting up roll-out plan and strategy for the University Alliances in Africa. Also we will conduct a research possibility of linking the program to the customer, partner and Sap ecosystem.

I don't want to get ahead of myself. Lets wait and see what happens tomorrow.