Celebrating 10 years of Amazee in Cape Town
It felt like an extended April Fool’s joke, as all of our colleagues, some of whom we have only met online, were suddenly appearing in the Cape Town office.
Every possible space that a bottom could be placed was taken, with an American accent here, a German accent there, and everything between, from Slovenian, to Austrian, Spanish, French, Dutch and Romanian. Not to mention our usual blend of South African accents. It was the start to a happy time of chaos!
As a group, we were celebrating 10 years of the Amazee Group. And to mark this occasion, Greg and Dania had organised to get all teams, from the various locations, to Cape Town for a 4-day weekend Camp, of fun, learning and knowledge sharing.
Our guests started to arrive from the weekend before and took up spots in our Muizenberg office to work remotely. Dania had spent a great amount of energy on planning: with rosters for airport runs, opening and locking the office each day, assigning workspaces and meeting rooms.
As the hosts, we also planned in social activities in the mornings before work and in the evenings. Including surf lessons and mountain hikes, with dinners at various local restaurants with good food and great beer.
It’s one thing to have a colleague come to visit for a couple of weeks. Last year we had a few people from Zurich join us in Cape Town, which brought certain excitement. This was different: everyone was here. In one corner was a team from Austin, and around the next corner was a team from Zurich. The Amazee IO team work mainly remotely, so for them to all be in one room together was a rare occasion.
Meeting the team from the US was particularly surreal. Partly due to the timezone difference and the travelling distance, we in Cape Town have not had as much interaction with the Austinites, and have only seen them on our screens as these energetic and charismatic people. Having them in the office was a bit like having movie stars from Hollywood in the office. You kind of felt you wanted to go up and poke them and make sure they were actually real. Starstruck Capetonians!
The greatest opportunity for this gathering of Amazee’s was to be able to share stories, knowledge and connect with each other. To be able to grab a collection of colleagues and have coffee together to talk about our tasks, challenges and processes was priceless. Drinking coffee and talking in person beats an online call any day.
I went off with all the other Project Managers for a catch-up, which would never otherwise happen. We all walked away from that conversation feeling more of a united team, knowing that we all deal with similar issues and can all help each other in various ways.
Formal workshops were also planned for various groups of people - Team Leads, CEO’s, Designers, Front Enders and more I probably wasn’t aware of. You can read more about these workshops in other blog posts, so be sure to keep an eye out for them!
Capetonians love Cape Town, so it was great to be able to show people around and share the views, scenery, smells and sounds. Playing tour guide actually, lets you see the world through a foreigner's eyes. So often we go about our daily lives seeing the same thing, and possibly ignoring the same things. But having guests from around the world - especially such a collection, all with different points of reference - hearing their comments about what they are seeing and experiencing opens your eyes to a different view of things.
We take our view of the beach and the mountains across the bay for granted. But sitting on the deck at Stoked, with cameras flashing and ooh’s and aah’s from the others, really makes you stop and take it all in again.
Dania and her small taskforce had kept the plans for the 4-day Camp a complete secret from everyone, except for her small team of conspirators. So even though we were the ‘hosts’, the Cape Town team were heading into the unknown as much as anyone else, as we sat in the bus leaving Cape Town.
First stop was at the Leipzig Guest Farm in the Nuy Valley, which was a new location for all the locals. Although the actual very first stop was at Peregrines Farm Stall, which we all know and love. On the second day, we had lunch at De Vette Mossel for an all you can eat seafood experience, which none of us knew existed, but will certainly visit again. From there we moved on to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve where we stayed for two nights. I have never been on a game drive before, nor had I seen Rhino so close up and not in a cage. Many new experiences for everyone!
Again, Dania’s planning was exquisite, sending us off into the wild in mixed groups each time, making sure that in almost every activity we were with colleagues from different teams and different locations, ensuring as best as possible that we got to spend time with almost everyone.
Not that easy when you are managing 46 creative individuals. But with the spirit of Amazee as a common thread, we found that we were one big happy crazy family, and it was amazee-ing!