The Youth Leadership Portfolio recently hosted the Annual Leadership Retreat 2020, themed “Engineering passion through engineering Action”. The retreat was hosted at the serine Birchwood Hotel. We welcomed the leaders from the 8 Student Chapters across the country with excitement.
The program was kicked off by Prof TP Majozi, recently awarded The Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze by the South African Presidency.
Prof Majozi taught the students about the Water, Energy & Food Nexus using practical interesting case studies to prove the importance of designing solutions that optimize the use, reusability & sustainability of these fundamental pillars of human need especially in Africa.
The second day was opened by an address from our CEO, the Youth Leadership, Design Thinking & Engineering Education portfolio updates & chapter planning. The EWB-SA leadership has transformed significantly in the past 6 months, the retreat was the perfect platform to ensure that the students are part of the change. The evening was spent discussing various aspects of EWB-SA to give feedback to the board in differently themed “think tanks”. The feedback from this discussion was presented back to the board members present on the last day of the retreat.
The first half of the 3rd day was about reimagining the future of Africa. Mixo from Geekulcha educated the team about the differences between AI/Tech/4IR & the different tech orientated solutions already impacting South Africa positively. This was followed by an extensive discussion from Ronak Gopaldas, the signal room, about the 5 policy puzzles which will shape Africa’s future. These included politics, economics (globalization vs protection), demographics, geo-politics & technology which awakened the young engineers to their possible role in the growth of the continent.
The current decline in the economy started a while back for South Africa. It was important that we start seeding the concept of entrepreneurship as an integral part of one’s design for their future career plans. Vaughn & Zwelibanzi of Oktopus Tech (data solutions that crop out farming inefficiencies) spoke to the team about how they juggle running a company & having senior roles within their respective corporate environments. They also gave the team insights into their ideation process & the unique selling advantages of their product offering.
Jabulane Nene, Co-Founder of 7 Khalaz, Unilever Acting Engineering Manager & Rapper joined the team to talk to them about the various resources available when starting a business, the challenges involved with the balancing game & relevance of relatable marketing. The rapper in him also came out & he shared a verse from his new mixtape with the students.
We ended off the day with an intense panel discussion on the employability of engineers in 2020. Yolanda Kupa, a production engineer at BWE, Aditi Lachman, the WomEng Programme Coordinator & Irshaad EWB-SA CEO shared their various career paths within engineering, their motivators, failures. We are grateful to all the speakers that took the time to join us.
The students got to bond over the boma-experience & games at the bonfire.
The mission of the EWB-SA’s Youth Leadership portfolio is to catalyze the development of socially conscious young engineers, who are empowered with basic tools to empower their communities. The students are challenged to use their learnings in their chapters throughout the academic year.
The retreat represented a moment of reflection about different aspects of the National Leadership Retreat for EWB-SA. We have delivered 8 National Leadership Retreats since 2011, previously called “summits”. Measuring the impact of the weeklong sessions depends on all the Alumni sharing their stories about the impact of the national retreat on their leadership approach, careers, network & world view.