Sometimes your job is just too good, exciting, wonderful, interesting, heart-touching, challenging in the right way, great, meaningful to be true. This is what it feels like to me these days. Saturday last week Ian Ratcliffe and I met with the new EMBA class here in Nairobi. 21 dedicated students ready to make a difference in their society and in Kenya. For two days we have taken them through their first leadership session in this programme, which lasts for 18 months altogether. Two days full of exciting and deep exercises and dialogues around subjects like integrity, motivation, leading change, business innovation and how to avoid corruption and staying ethical in a society like this.
There has been some very serious moments. And some very fun ones too. Here is a picture of a situation where we definitely had some fun:
And then today the next exciting thing happened. We got the opportunity to visit a Chemical factory in Southern Kenya called Tata Chemicals Magadi. One of the leaders of the first EMBA programme we are running down here, is HR Manager on this factory. We were shown around on the plant, which was built in 1911 – 100 years ago! Now, this was a real “back-in-history” experience… Look at this beautiful factory:
But what was the most encouraging thing about the visit at the factory was the stories we heard about how they are developing and growing the community around them. They provide local villages and the one next to the factory with water, education, hospital and knowledge about various issues like how to prevent HIV. When I asked the HR manager: “Why do you do that – besides from the fact that it is a nice human thing to do?” he answered: “We need them as much as they need us. When we protect and care for the community, they protect and care for us. Imagine what it would cost us, if the people living nearby wouldn’t want to protect us, wouldn’t want the factory to be here, wouldn´t coorperate when we send the products via train to Mombassa!”
So like with any other business, CSR in the case of Tata Chemicals Magadi is both a matter of wanting to do good in the society AND calculating what it would cost, if they didn’t do it. It is both about humanity, society and money. CSR makes a better business case – also in this instance.
Tomorrow I am going to visit another leader from our EMBA programme, Lucy, at her farm: Eldoville farm. It will be another educating day for me, another opportunity to get to know a business and the challenges, thrills and joys a leader running a business here in Kenya faces.
The best part of it all, however is, that when I go back home to Denmark, more exciting assignments are waiting. I don´t have to go all the way down here to Kenya to get the feeling that my job is exciting and meaningfull. In Denmark I also meet dedicated leaders ready to make a change. I feel lucky and – yes – really happy these day.