What is it like going to South Africa to work with Intelling?

Luckily for myself, I was able to have conversations with people who had been to South Africa multiple times. As a result, I was able to obtain information that put me at ease about leaving family and friends to go live 6,000 miles away.

Despite this, there were still many questions that I had never thought of asking, which would’ve always been nice to know and would hopefully help out others who want to experience working in South Africa!

Embarking on a Long Journey

The travel aspect can be quite daunting for some, considering you spend 20 hours travelling to your destination.

This was especially true for me considering the only long haul flight I had been on previously was to America when I was young, and the flight felt like a lifetime. But overall the travelling process was simple.

I got a taxi to the airport, said goodbye to my family, and met up with Joe at the airport.

We checked in our bags and 20 hours, we later touched down in Durban.

Despite working briefly on the same campaign as Joe, I didn’t have much of a relationship with him, so I was able to use the time to find out more about my colleague. I could also further question him about South Africa considering it was his 3rd trip out.

Touchdown in South Africa

The flights were smooth, in particular the flights to London and Johannesburg, due to having a free seat beside me! 😊

Through having a window seat, I was able to look out and was intrigued by seeing the main attractions of London outside the window as a came in closer to land. The long flight to Johannesburg was made easier with flight entertainment and meals/snacks being brought. These were included with the flight and luckily for myself, the flight was overnight so I was able to sleep throughout.

Joe informed me about the workers in Johannesburg airport looking to help with luggage before asking for tips, so it was funny to see these men in action as every 5 steps we had people looking to help us with luggage.

My First Week

For the opening week of being here, we had Kerry and Jordan to accompany ourselves whilst I got used to things.

I was shown around the local shopping centre, walked along the beach and overall I just got to learn my surroundings. In terms of activities, we went out Go Karting (which is strangely on the rooftop of the local mall) and bowling with the Operations Managers and Directors of Synergy. We made a competition of it – Intelling v Synergy, in which Intelling came out on top! Many thanks to my dominant bowling performance 😊

Exploring More of Durban

One of the big differences between Belfast and South Africa is obviously the weather.

Because of this, we were able to go to a local Ski Park, go on Jet Ski’s, do water rafting and finish it off by relaxing in the sun with a nice cold Savannah (South African cider).

Alongside this, having a nice walk up and down the promenade seeing the local monkeys walking around, and also seeing the views of downtown Durban is very nice.

At the weekend, lying out on the balcony sunbathing is a common occurrence on days off.

I have been able to attend different events such as the Quarterly Awards night and the unveiling of the new building. I’ve even been able to help celebrate the growth and success of Synergy, alongside those who work day in day out. It’s always good to get to know people and see the different ways of life.

Did I Miss Belfast?

The culture difference was one of the main reason I wanted to come here, and I did question whether I would fit in with the people.

However I couldn’t have been more wrong, as the people in work are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They’re always upbeat, positive and love life.

I have been able to get to know some of the TL’s well and even met some of their families, which was a huge culture shock as the homes aren’t what you would get in the UK, being a lot more condensed. But once you look past that, the people are really nice, polite and actually very similar to us.

For example, one of their children had a Disney princess table whilst the son was watching Tom and Jerry, which reminded me massively of my own brother and sister.

As a picky eater, I haven’t been as adventurous as I’m sure others would be.

However, I’ve tried some local curries and I have good reviews, but one thing I was told which was crucial is that you order one spice level lower down than your normal level, as people here love their spice!

My New Daily Routine

A work day involves getting showered and ready, before getting a quick 5 minute Uber to work for roughly 9am. When I arrive at my desk, I usually have 2 bottles of water sitting waiting for me thanks to Kanye who ensures we are hydrated!

The focus point can change from day to day depending on the area of need, however, often we will run previous day reports to highlight areas of improvement. We will also run reports over an extended period of time to address underperformance.

The role is mixed.

Often I will be developing the TL’s by helping in day running of teams and pointing them in the right direction, or sometimes I would even be stepping in, giving feedback to agents, whilst getting the TL to observe.

Ultimately, my daily goal is to keep on top of updates and help drive performance whilst upskilling those around you, whether it be TL’s or Agents for the long term fix.

This is where product knowledge, or sales knowhow, comes into play.

After sitting on top of performance and focusing on the areas of need, we usually go home around 7pm. If I’m up to it, I’ll cook, or if it’s been a challenging day, then order a takeaway. Luckily the apartment is really nice; it has a nice living area with a TV, a big kitchen table and the bedrooms all have double beds and flat screen TV with Netflix and Youtube on it.

And in my Free Time….

On days off as I mentioned, I do enjoy sunbathing in the morning before going out for a walk. Often I will get a haircut and maybe have some food, however, one saving grace for myself being a massive sports fan is the TV having all the sport channels!

I’ve been able to keep up with the football, F1 and American Football whilst even watching big events such as the Golf and Tennis to keep me entertained.

One thing I haven’t done yet is a Safari however, that’s on the list to be done in the coming weeks.

How Have I Advanced my Career Skills?

Before coming, I had zero knowledge of O2.

Over time, through going on client calls, call listening etc, I’ve been able to get a grasp of the product and the campaigns very quickly and with the help of Kerry, who completed a massively helpful handover with me in the final week.

I even have helped train 2 groups of agents that have joined the floor, which only helped improve my knowledge and knowhow of the campaigns.

An example of when I was given the task to train a group was coming up with my own training schedule and using existing training slides, plus my own knowledge, to put a training deck together. Additionally, throughout getting to know others, I was able to lean on some of the knowledgeable people on the dialler team to help assist the agents systems and product knowledge where needed to help get the agents succeed.

As mentioned, the biggest difference for me was taking on a new campaign.

This is especially true, seeing as I’d only ever managed broadband and that’s been my biggest learning curve and the skill I’ve honed the most. Luckily for me, we have a small FTE for broadband in South Africa, so I can go back to my ‘comfort zone’ when needed. Despite this, I have fully enjoyed immersing myself in the 02 Inbound and Outbound side of it.

Furthermore, I’ve seen a change in the way I communicate with people, especially those from different backgrounds and found myself thinking about how to best communicate with others so that feedback lands and sticks.

What I’ve Taken Away From my Visit

Yes, I could say the highlight is living in a warm country, going out for steak dinners (which are great by the way), however for me, the key highlight and the reason I’ve fully enjoyed my experience is the people.

Being able to go into work everyday and look forward to working with the people, having a laugh, but being serious and getting results off the back of hard work, is great. Even more so with the people I’ve trained, as I looked in depth how to help these agents so that they hit the ground running.

My Advice to You

For anyone who is thinking about putting their name forward to go to South Africa, I would advise you do.

I was lucky to have nothing holding me back in Northern Ireland, only leaving family and friends behind for 3 months. The area is safe, there’s been many of times I’ve went for walks during the day on my own, and have even been out at the weekend with no issues.

The people are very welcoming and willing to learn, and similarly to the UK, they’re driven by money and enjoy a drink, so likelihood is you’ll get along with them.

For people who are maybe more adventurous than myself, there’s bungee jumping and more to look into.

The time flies when you’re here.

Over the first 2 months, I’ve only had 3 phone calls with family, because I’m either engrossed with work, out with people or relaxing not wanting to be bothered.

I can’t help feeling I will miss the people here, as you spend a lot of time with them and build good relationships, whilst constantly looking out for people to do well, succeed, and progress in the business.

I would be happy to talk with anyone who is interested, because I had a lot of question marks around what it would be like.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and never had a day I’ve not enjoyed work, as there’s always things to do to help improve people and performance.