The posts in this category are thoughts and reflections from a sustainable development course delivered to MBA and other graduate business students at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. I traveled with the group to video the trip (although I’m not at all a videographer, which might explain why nothing to date has become of the footage). A main story vein is connected to the sustainable development, creative capitalism, and aid-for-Africa discussions occurring in business, social responsibility, TED/Gates Foundation, and other such circles. So-called emerging economies are—thanks to the way the current economic crises has redefined risk—rising to a more prominent place in our investment considerations. The course’s international travel component is very different from the approach other […]
We were waiting in a Newmont conference room on site at the Ahafo mine. On the agenda: a briefing from Newmont’s General Manager in Ahafo Jay Bastian. He’s going to try and tell us what it’s like to run a place like this. The pressure for profitable production amid the wildly unpredictability that is Africa.
If you’re like me, there’s probably nothing you’d like to forget more about the ’80’s than the music. OK, so I’m often accused of being a music snob. But still. Never Gonna Give You Up. Maneater. We’re Not Gonna Take It. There was also Live Aid. A purging of self-indulgent guilt from an especially gilded time. We did good, didn’t we? We bought concert tickets around the world. Watched the making of the video. Subscribed to MTV. Despite the altruism, there are some that would like to forget Live Aid as well. To some, it put irrevocable contexts around African nations that have mitigated their growth and defined narrow (patronizing?) solutions that these countries are struggling to overcome still.
Riding the bus from the “before” site in Akeym toward the working mine in Ahafo. After meeting, hugging, and looking in the eyes of the people in the surrounding villages, there’s a lot of reflection. There are human beings here. Students are sharing experiences and stories about them. We have new relationships, and that changes things. Discussions have shifted from theories about relocation operations to relocating people. People we now know.
There appears to be very few international travel classes like this in higher ed. Amanda Pollock, Daniels executive program staff member and the co-brainchild behind the program, is the person who actually makes it all happen. Sold it to Daniels management. Promotes the program. Helps create the curriculum and on-the-ground integration. Books the buses. Brings the gifts to our hosts. She’s worked in other Universities coordinating travel abroad programs. And she agrees. “Most travel abroad programs are tourist courses. They’re ineffective in delivering any kind of sense of culture, and what its like to do business abroad. “The goal of this class is create value on multiple levels: a more valuable learning experience for students. Valuable deliverables for partnering enterprises. […]
Today we visited the Elima Slave castle. Stood in the dungeons. Walked through the gate that led to the ships. This place was only the beginning of the atrocities. It’s futile to describe the emotions. Multilayered, complex, sickening. A thought struck me on the bus back to the hotel. It isn’t exaggerating to suggest that we find ourselves facing a new world. A world with unexampled challenges, a totally opaque future. But with the same undying hope that we just can’t seem to shake. As an agent of defining this new world, capitalism is facing the same question that faced settlers of that other new world that was built on the backs of exploited people. Today, we ask ourselves to […]
Many Newmont employees are required to wear jumpsuits. Makes them easier to spot by the mining vehicles, and a little easier for security. Apparently they’re a hot item. Counterfeit Newmont jumpsuits started popping up in the small towns around the Ahafo mine site. Newmont folks tell me they have yet to see them used in any kind of fraudulent ways. Ghanaians are telling Newmont that they’re simply a status symbol. They signify you’re employed. It’s impressive around town. “You see them on the streets at night in some of the villages,” one Newmont employee told me. “They’re all the rage.”
Around Ahafo, 12-foot flag posts (like the kind you used to have on your bike only… well, taller) are attached to full sized, two-ton Chevy pick-ups so the haul trucks don’t run them over. Haul trucks, it should go without saying, always have the right away. You wait at intersections in the mine site for the “all-clear” over the two-way radio before proceeding. Haul trucks won’t stop. The director of training at Ahafo tells me women Ghanaians make better haul truck drivers. “They aren’t as arrogant. Not as attracted to the power. More responsible.” I didn’t hear any complaints from anyone about this arrangement.