08 October 2018
Jacqueline Berlin

Creating momentum for real impact

The "Afrika kommt!" (AK) programme enters its seventh round: Out of 5,000 original applicants, 29 were selected to work with German companies. Six of these talented professionals will join up with Boehringer Ingelheim in November. A guest feature by Jan Pfaff.

They arrived with strong visions and ideas on how to add value to their host companies in Germany: In early August, six fellows of the AK programme joining Boehringer Ingelheim are going to support the departments IT Purchasing, Strategic Development, Human Pharma Emerging Markets, Market Access Emerging Markets, Making More Health and Diversity & Inclusion.

 

Sören Frickenschmidt, Head of Recruiting Services Germany, together with four other colleagues from Boehringer Ingelheim, travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, in April. Frickenschmidt conducted the assessment centre for the third time to select candidates for Boehringer Ingelheim. He has developed a strong fascination with the continent, the people and talents: "Africa is an exciting and diverse continent and, in the long run, no region of the world has that much dormant potential."

 

International Professionals

 

Among the candidates selected to work with Boehringer Ingelheim is Wadzanai Chiuriri. She comes from Zimbabwe and has studied Sociology and Gender Development. In the past, she worked mainly in communications after her graduation and will support the Global Diversity & Inclusion team. "The study of people made it easy for me to get into that field", she says. Before joining the programme, she worked at NGOs concerned with young women, cross-media work in PR and advertising agencies and as a volunteer at the Goethe Institute in Zimbabwe. "I did not know about AK before I applied and received the ad when I was actually in Germany with the Institute", Chiuriri explains. "Germany is profoundly different from Africa," she says; "It was a challenge to live in a place where I did not understand the language. I had to learn everything and reinvent myself".

 

One of Chiuriri's key strengths is artistic, however: "I am a poet, a 'Dichterin'. This has opened my mind to understand people in a social context." To her, "professional growth comes from personal growth." In Germany, she expects to achieve both: "I want to learn, grow, meet people, make friends, laugh and to discover Germany's exciting wonders. I expect it to be a journey of self-discovery. Moving away from my usual way of living, thinking and doing things is certainly going to make every single day a day of discovery."

 

"In Zimbabwe, work is 'close to home': Your colleagues are somewhat like family and we carry our personal lives into the workplace", Chiuriri explains. She will join the Diversity & Inclusion Team and wants to see the actions Boehringer Ingelheim takes to make inclusion happen: "I want to understand how the company actualizes inclusion and how it plans to make the place comfortable for everyone."

 

Sylivia Swai from Tanzania is a pharmacist with a master's degree of business administration. She has experience in the sales and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs and will join the HP Emerging Markets team. Swai explains her decision to work with Boehringer Ingelheim: "I envision a world where no life is lost due to lack of medicines and I gladly work for and with organizations that have the same vision. Boehringer Ingelheim as an innovative company that values people from all backgrounds, appealed to me".

 

Sindiswa Dlamini is an Industrial Engineer from KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa with rich experience across a variety of industries, as well as an entrepreneur: "All of this experience led me to establishing my own companies: Implementing Artificial Intelligence-based technologies in different companies and across industries. My interest in youth business development led to a Venture Capital business focusing on lending small loans to promising youth businesses", she says.

 

Dlamini has been to Germany before for two days: "I loved it as a tourist. As a resident for the year, I think language is my biggest challenge and I'm very keen to learn and be fluent already. Everything else is not too different from my life in South Africa except for the very efficient public transport which I really admire. Water, potatoes and wurst also taste funny here, a braai [Afrikaans: barbecue grilling] would be great."

 

Outlook

 

To Dlamini, mutual understanding is a pillar of successful cooperation: "I want Europeans to understand that Africa is not a country. Africa is not for the taking. Africa is not defined by its current governance. We are here to do business."

                                                                                                                                     

After their arrival in Germany, the six future Boehringer Ingelheim colleagues and their fellow AK members are having their introduction weeks including German language courses, an international management training and the chance to visit their host companies. In November, they will join their teams at Boehringer Ingelheim.

 

Frickenschmidt summarizes the strong potential the programme offers for Boehringer Ingelheim: "It is a part of our Diversity & Inclusion strategy to welcome different viewpoints. It is not about window-dressing, but about creating momentum for real impact."

"I want to learn, grow, meet people, make friends, laugh and to discover Germany's exciting wonders, says Afrika kommt! fellow Wadzanai Chiuriri. "
Jacqueline Berlin

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