Engineers Without Borders South Africa (EWB-SA) held their 7th Annual Leadership Summit from 22-26 January 2018. It was held at Anglo American’s Centre for Experiential Learning (CEL). Anglo American’s CEL kindly sponsored the venue and accommodation. The summit welcomed 28 student delegates from eight university student chapters: University of South Africa (UNISA), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Pretoria (UP), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), University of Stellenbosch (Maties), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and University of Cape Town (UCT).
The Summit lasted for 4 days and each day was filled with informative sessions and fun activities. The sessions included inspiring speeches, engaging discussions from various prominent South African leaders, special projects and discussion sessions. The Summit also included practical (experiential learning) sessions from the CEL’s resident experts and the EWB-SA volunteers.
The first day began with a talk by Professor Ian R Jandrell (Wits Dean of Engineering and Built Environment). His talk focused on how young engineers are the best placed individuals to make tangible, significant positive changes in our society. He ended with the inspiring story of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who failed along the way, but he persevered and that was the key. A key aspect of EWB-SA delegates is also failing forward hence the entire group could relate.
The delegates were given the flexibility to facilitate their own sessions each evening. The first evening involved a Ted-Talk by Chimamanda Adichie’s Danger of a Single Story, which led to lively discussions between the students and marked the beginning of a rather heartfelt and insightful Summit.
The second day focused on personal leadership and change management. The sessions were facilitated by the CEL’s resident experts Dewald Esterhuizen and Jill Harris.
Harris’ session focused on the personal leadership and social aspect of change management. She talked the delegates through the theory of leadership, personality types, traits and how to interact with people when dealing with and applying change. Esterhuizen's session focused on the technical side of change management; process purpose, waste and optimization. The lessons learnt in the sessions were then applied in the CEL’s model factory, where delegates had to observe the process for producing pistons.
The second evening included the Ted Talk Radical Candor by Kim Scott, which focused on the power of giving people honest feedback.
The focus on Wednesday was guest speakers who reflected on their journey’s and what they’ve learnt along the way.
The first speaker was Manglin Pillay, CEO of South African Institution of Civil Engineering, who focused on the modern engineer and ethics. After which, Elaine & Patrizia from WSP, took delegates on a personal discovery adventure to learn more about themselves. Followed by Neo Hutiri, founder and CEO of Technovera and winner of Hack.Jozi, who spoke about his journey through entrepreneurship and engineering.
The highlight of the afternoon, however, was Dr Noko Phala. Dr Phala is the Head of Business Improvement Capability development at Anglo American. While he continues his research with Anglo, his current role is about “thinking about thinking.” How we absorb information, how we retain it and how we use it. He demonstrated how we often aren’t taught how the brain works and so don’t know how to use it correctly.
Wednesday evening’s Ted Talk was by Ricardo Semler’s, Radical Autonomy, practices a radical form of corporate democracy.
Thursday, the fourth and final day was about the future!
James Hu, Head of Learning and Development in Africa at Unilever and EWB-SA Board Member who spoke to us about organisational branding and he also touched on personal branding.
Vanessa Naicker, Head of Business Improvement- Support at Anglo American and EWB-SA Board Member, spoke about metrics, accountability and excellence; enthralling delegates with her experience in the industry after 20 years.
After the talks, the delegates then went out to plan for the year ahead, for their different university chapters. During the Gala dinner, they presented a reflection of the previous year, what they intend to improve and what the next year will look like. What was clear from their reflections, was that EWBers are very much like Isambard Kingdom Brunel. They often fail, but they are resilient and resourceful and results driven.
We have been working with students chapters for seven years and what we have learnt is that it is important to allow the students to fail forward as this really creates a group of young professionals who are resilient , resourceful and results driven. EWB-SA has become a safe place for practicing leadership while trying to reach out to local communities at the same time. We truly are focusing on empowering engineers so that they can step out and empower communities.
EWB-SA would like to thank our guest speakers: Professor Ian R Jandrell, Dean of Engineering at Wits; Manglin Pillay, CEO of SAICE; James Hu, Head of Learning and Development at Unilever for Africa; Vanessa Naicker, Head of Business Improvement- Support at Anglo American; and Neo Hutiri, Founder of Technovera; Dewald Esterhuizen and Jill Harris, CEL’s resident experts; Elaine & Patrizia from WSP and Dr Noko Phala, Head of Business Improvement Capability development at Anglo American; as well as our sponsors Anglo American.
Original article: Muhammed Razzak
Edited article: Dhruti Dheda
If your interest has been peaked, read the original article here!
7th Annual EWB-SA Leadership Summit.pdf