One of the really cool perks about my job is that I get to travel pretty often. Not many people can say that they’re guaranteed to experience 4 new African countries each year and get paid to do so. I have seen the good and the bad and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.
Recently, my job took me to Cote d’Ivoire– a place where every second sentence was “bonjour madam” and a very poorly attempted and broken “Je ne parle pas Francais” I’m probably still fudging it up now… I also visited (for the second time) beautiful Kenya and had two new East African experiences with Uganda and Tanzania which I fell in love with.
You’re probably wondering who I travelled to these countries with and what the purpose of my visits was, I can only answer one of these questions today and it brings me to the purpose of my post today. Traveling with colleagues.
Over the past year I have had the privilege of traveling to the biggest countries (by GDP) in the Western and Eastern parts of Africa with my millennial, and not so millennial colleagues, and I think it would be interesting to share my top 6 realisations on these experiences.
- Keep the focus: traveling with millennials is fun but more is expected
- This one is quite obvious. traveling with millennial colleagues, especially like- minded ones is quite fun however the pressure to produce solid outputs and provide a greater ROI than other non- millennial trips is expected.
- Curiosity reigns: you can do more with research and really push the envelope
- Because everyone is young and curious- the research team picks up more information (especially the left- field data points) and also fewer assumptions are made.
- “Alone time” is golden
- Something we were more deliberate about this time around was scheduling down- time. The result of everyone being in close proximity for 80% of the day means that you all really get to know each other REALLY well. You can gauge when someone is “people-d out” or when a group break is needed. everyone is aligned in thinking and that really strengthens the team bond. When you make time for those random breaks (some late starts and early endings to a day) it really makes all the difference and keeps the burnout at bay. When the team regroups, everyone is well- rested and new perspectives and energy is bountiful.
- Give and take
- Following on from point 3, traveling for long periods as a unit really teaches you a lot about compromising and sacrificing. you begin to see your colleagues as living and breathing humans that you care for to some degree, beyond the commonalities of a shared employer
- Despite us usually being chaperoned by locals in- country, this didn’t save us in Cote d’Ivoire where we could barely communicate in the local language. The research piece in a foreign country where English is not the primary language is almost futile and here we learned the importance of being connected to a network provider via a local sim. Once we were connected, a local sim provided access to translator apps as well as people in the office who were bilingual, to translate our “on- the ground needs” to drivers and chaperones.
- A lil party never killed nobody
- Emphasis on “a lil” cause a lot will make you lose the plot but “a lil” builds the perfect amount of camaraderie that produces superior results time and time again.
Also, if you’ve read this far, you know it means I’m back on the blogging scene!