By Maikel Botterman

It’s almost 10 in the morning, and a bright and warm sun is battling his way through the clouds. Our two cars are driving down to yet another client, anticipating a hard challenge once again.

Ask anyone in our team, and they will probably tell you we have never had such a productive learning journey. But why is that? If you ask me, I would say it’s not only because of all the work we get to do here, but mainly because it’s actually the first time in our entire Team Academy career that we started working together. Which might seem strange to you, since it’s the philosophy of our school to work together from day one of the program. Don’t get me wrong. Sure we did collaborate on certain projects, but from the beginning we’ve been a diverse team with many different interests. And these diverse interests made it real hard for us to find common ground in one general business.

But now, almost three years after we began our Team Academy journey, this diversity in our team couldn’t have been a greater help to us. During these past couple of years, we’ve managed to turn these interests into our expertise. And next to that, we’ve been able to find common ground: helping people.

It was somewhere in the middle of our third year, before we even decided what country to go to on our Learning Journey, when Aster got us the opportunity to do a so called “24 Hour Challenge” for the Makro. As the name suggests, in only 24 hours we are challenged to solve a business case, in this case a challenge to reach and connect to a new target audience. Next to delivering the winning pitch, we couldn’t help but notice how these challenges were the perfect opportunity for all of us to work together. For us to work together towards one common goal, but still be able to focus on our expertise, skills and interests.

We’ve been in Cape Town a little under eight weeks now, and we’ve managed to crack a total of seven business cases, from big corporates, who needed to make a pivot in their logistics, to little startups, in desperate need for a business model. Even tough the challenges itself were hard and exhausting, giving companies a fresh view on their strategy, creating powerful images for their branding and creating tools for them to connect to their customers was more than worth the struggle.

But what was even more gratifying was to come in here, as someone who’s just starting to grow a beard, and find all these people, who’ve already been in business for so long, listen carefully to and be amazed by what you’re saying. It made us all realize how much we’ve learned over the years. And maybe more importantly, how much impact we can still make on this world in the years to come.