There was a tangible sense of excitement as the entire second year class trekked out to Gold Reef City Amusement Park for Colgate-Palmolive Careers Day.
Scott Geldart, General Manager of Colgate-Palmolive’s East-West Africa operations, welcomed students with a compelling video on the organisation’s operations across Africa. The video highlighted Africa’s enormous potential for growth and Colgate-Palmolive’s ubiquitous presence across the continent, from the small “corner dukas” of rural Kenya to the up-and-coming upscale supermarkets in Nigeria and Senegal. The video also included a segment on Colgate-Palmolive’s involvement with ALA, featuring cameo student appearances, as part of their ongoing investment in human capital.
Four student groups were then led into rooms festooned with brightly-coloured balloons, each room representing one of Colgate Palmolive’s four business divisions–Sales, Finance, Marketing and Supply Chain Management. The presenters, who collectively represented seven countries across the continent, made it a point to connect with students from their countries and across the continent, held the ALA students in rapt attention.
Hugues Emanga from Cameroon enlightened the students on the technical aspects of supply chain management, while simultaneously appealing to their interest in globalization and economic interdependence. Students were amazed to find out that one tube of toothpaste sold at an African market could source ingredients from as far away as China and Brazil! Nelly Wainaina from Kenya and Fatoumata Bah from Senegal grounded their overview of marketing strategy with concrete examples of incorporating consumer feedback into the design and development of a new product.
Second year student Julius Kakwenzire from Uganda was eager to grasp lessons learned from marketing and sales, in order to apply them to his understanding of how to launch a product. “Before the Colgate-Palmolive visit, I thought marketing just involved the sale of a product,” he said. “Now I understand the complexities behind product development–and that consumer research is integral to that process.”
Scott Geldart concluded the morning with a riveting question and answer session, prompting students to talk through career and internship opportunities at Colgate-Palmolive going forward. Second year Linda Rebeiz from Senegal complimented Colgate-Palmolive on its emphasis on ethics and integrity–the theme ran as an undercurrent throughout every presentation. Students even continued their conversations with the presenters well into and over lunch, even though it meant that it would cut short their time at the amusement park afterwards! Indeed, the visit in entirety was inspiring, showcasing Colgate-Palmolive as an ideal company to work for–with a pan-African footprint and a focus on operational success through mutual respect and diversity.