Organising an event, no matter if it is to cater ten people or to please the Senate, is an extremely nerve-wracking and also exciting occasion. It is the ultimate test of organisation, forward-thinking and flexibility. It involves a combination of jumping from one hurdle to the next and hoping that by the end of the race against time, that there are enough hurdles still standing to look back and realise that you’ve done a pretty good job.
All of this stress would naturally show on the face of the organiser. But not here at Kilimanjaro. The tribe here know what our management team are capable of. Many of us are returning veterans ready for another year on the front-line. So for the Summit it is not our cool, calm and collected leaders who are showing their fear. It is their tribe who are well aware of Connie’s team-building activities that are advertised as “fun” and “closed-shoe” activities. Whilst some excel in these sort of activities, little thought is placed on those (aka, myself) who flinch at the mere thought of exercise, let alone participating in it. But somehow, I’m still here today, writing about my experience, and I think that in itself is food for thought. So firstly, a big thank you to the management team for recognising how much we are capable of and being able to show us, but also to the whole tribe who all have a “sleeves-up” mentality helping each other out every step of the way.
We started our morning bright and early, arriving at the conference room ready for our first session of the day. We learnt about Kilimanjaro’s past and how it has has helped shape us today. We learned about our strong foundations and whilst these may not be apparent during day-to-day working life, it is definitely comforting to be able to step back and look at the big picture alongside our tribal leaders and realise that we are part of something quite wonderful.
We were then given a glimpse into our future – where we are heading and how we perceive we will get there. While what felt like only minutes ago we were learning about Ronnie’s past farming life, it is amazing to see the capability for growth this company has showed and how certain it is of its goals and future. I know everyone in that room felt a buzz of excitement, but also a sense of achievement as we all knew that our expected growth is something that we’ve already reached. We know we have the right tools for the job.
After a quick break for morning tea, we were back into the conference room for some brainstorming. We were set into 4 teams to think about the areas of Kilimanjaro that we think are our strengths, and also items that we will improve on in the next year. Our tribal leaders explained that this is just one of their approaches to continuous improvement or “sharpening the spear”. It was quite heart-warming to hear that they take our opinions on board to help shape Kilimanjaro. After sharing everyone’s ideas and hearing the positives and also the things we need to improve on (a games room and a fully kitted out kitchen for baking – hey, we can always dream right?), the leaders showed us the same exercise we completed last year, and showed us the differences. It was great to see that so many of the areas of improvement were now placed on the positive side for this year!
We had lunch and then the tribe knew that this was the real part of the Summit. We had reached the top of the Summit and now it was time to take a nice relaxing walk down the mountain to enjoy our successes over the past year. Or so we thought. Connie had organised her famous team building activities and as we were all separated into groups it was soon quite obvious what was looming over our instructors’ shoulders – Segways! Connie had definitely out-done herself again!
After some shaky starts, we were soon all professional clean-green racing machines and were weaving in and out of cones, completing baton races and juggling water in an upside-down Frisbee! To say there were a few laughs would be an understatement. We all walked away with massive smiles on our faces and an even closer bond to our fellow tribe members – and a shared knowledge that Jason shouldn’t be allowed on a Segway.
We then went to our rooms to freshen up for the formalities of the Summit for the company dinner. We were given amazing meals and I think we all played a little musical chairs as everyone mingled and conversed about the day’s events, and the days to come. We were delighted when Ronnie stood up for a Ronnie-speech and we all felt very cherished as he thanked us for all of our hard work and shared with us his excitement for the months and years to come. We all knew that although there was growth in the coming future, that with leaders like ours we will never lose our unique culture that we have all grown to treasure.
As the drinks flowed, and our night pressed on and I’m certain we all had a similar thought – “how lucky I am to be involved in this!”
Check out the photos below from our 2013 Summit.