Sika, the global, Swiss-based, specialty chemical company, introduced the ‘Sika Experience’ initiative in 2010, offering young people interested in sustainable projects, to enter a competition to win one of 18 places to experience Sika. The Sika Experience program is aimed at students and career starters as an introduction to the varied world of Sika and provides deeper insights into the Group’s work and projects. As well as offering preliminary professional experience to ambitious students, Sika aims to attract the best talents to the company in order to be equipped for future challenges. The platform also provides information on sustainability initiatives launched by Sika and links Sika to social media. The young people chosen to experience Sika, share their first taste of professional life with a wider public by posting blog entries about their experiences on a dedicated Internet website: http://experience.sika.com

South African Winner
Geoff du Toit from Cape Town won one of these 18 global placements. A civil engineer working on the construction of a water treatment works in Paarl, Geoff is passionate about water and all facets of the water cycle. With a background in both civil and process engineering and employed by a large engineering consultancy specialising in Water Treatment Infrastructure, Geoff’s short term goal is to get the best possible experience within the water engineering industry, and ultimately become a technical leader in his field.
Geoff had the opportunity to visit Europe over 14 days to observe Sika AG’s activities to preserve water (research online). Each of the 18 winners was asked to write an essay on their impressions and observations during their visit, with special emphasis on Sika’s sustainable efforts.
Geoff’s essay, which won the award for best essay, includes some of the following (edited) observations:
“…One conversation I clearly remember was with Sika’s Hans-Rudi Beer who explained a lot about Swiss culture. Due to Switzerland’s geographical position and lack of raw resources the country had become tourism and service orientated. He illustrated this by showing how businesses in Switzerland had remained competitive and relevant in a changing global environment where other nations had struggled. He argued that the Swiss listen to their clients to understand their requirements and then work with them to select, tailor and apply the most suitable product. This was contrasted with other nationalities who would preferentially provide their products based on what they perceived the needs of their clients to be, invariably providing a less satisfactory solution.”
“…Due to the current pre-occupation with climate change and CO2 emissions it is logical that the major CO2 emitters will come under fire. This has certainly been the case with the concrete industry, in which the SIKA brand is lumped. As a result I was impressed to see how this has been used as an opportunity for the brand to assert itself as one with a conscience demonstrating the ways SIKA products can be used to reduce the CO2 emissions per unit concrete. Concrete remains our most versatile and cost effective construction medium, as there is no economical replacement for it yet. Concrete can be viewed as a necessary evil and SIKA a company striving to minimise its impacts.”
“For me Sika Experience was an opportunity to not only learn more and experience the state of the art in Switzerland, but also immerse myself in and learn about other cultures. Apart from being exposed to a multitude of nationalities I was also afforded the opportunity to briefly probe and explore the SIKA business culture from all tiers and draw my own conclusions. It was a fascinating opportunity from which I have learnt and gained a lot and will certainly be able to draw on this experience for the future.”
“In my opinion SIKA is a heritage company that has retained much of the vision and ethos of its foundation, yet has merged this with its modern service driven business, encouraging responsibility and innovation in order to meet opportunities and challenges as they come.”

Charitable Prizes
As winner of the best essay Geoff was presented with a reward book voucher and the opportunity to nominate a charitable organisation in his country to which Sika AG would make a sizeable donation of US$10,000.00. Geoff chose the Ikamva Labantu non-profit organisation to receive this donation, which has been made on behalf of Sika South Africa, and requested that the funds be used for projects on Economic Improvement and Food Security.

Ikamva Labantu (‘the Future of our Nation’) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that is currently involved in over 1000 projects working with and assisting various sectors of the population including children, youth, families, senior citizens and the physically challenged. These projects work through local communities in order for them to become self-sufficient in areas such as health-care, education and skills development, food security and community infrastructure.

Background
Sika Experience was launched in 2010, on the occasion of the Sika Group’s centenary. Some 1,500 young people applied to win a trip to six major projects. The 18 winners came from China, Chile, India, Turkey, Ireland, USA, Thailand, Romania, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Switzerland. In around 300 blog entries the Exp