I visited Johannesburg, South Africa twice this year for 2 weeks at a time. The first trip was to gather business requirements for the project, which was a Murex Collateral Manager installation and the second was the Go-Live. Many people have preconceptions about South Africa and admittedly I did too, but as soon as you disembark from the aeroplane your preconceptions almost immediately fall away. The beautiful warm climate was an uplifting break from the snow and freezing temperatures that I had just left behind in London, and the incredible hospitality from the South Africans was a refreshing experience from the coldness that can be felt at times in London.

The banks are notably very different in South Africa too; the bank where I was based had the appearance of a mansion from the outside. Inside, there were stunning bronze statues of cheetahs in the lobby and the main IT floor had many TV screens with sports on display almost all day everyday. There was certainly a relaxed atmosphere there coupled with an energetic, eager workforce. I felt everyone there was very welcoming and accommodating and it did not take long to settle in and get straight to work.

There are plenty of things to do socially too, with plenty of good bars, restaurants, museums, nature reserves, vineyards, the options are abundant. If you have exotic tastes and want to try some Game meat, I would recommend visiting Meat Co. where I ate Kudu (antelope), Springbok and other South African delicacies. 

My colleague John Alan and I were fortunate enough to have one of our colleagues at the bank escort us to Johannesburg’s largest township (Soweto), where we saw the first home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s home and many historical land marks from the struggle against the Apartheid regime. For me this was very eye opening. I did not realise the extent of the atrocities that had been committed and neither did I realise how recent it was. I would encourage anyone to do this as a tour as I felt it was very important to see what South Africa used to be like and how far they have come as a nation in a relatively short period of time. 

I would recommend South Africa to anyone, especially those that haven’t been to sub-Saharan Africa because in South Africa you definitely get a really good sense of Africa and its potential despite its troubled past. It becomes very clear why Africa as a continent has a rapidly growing economy and why successful businesses like Excelian have a strong foot-hold there that will undoubtedly grow into something even more special.