Q&A with Francois Ouadeba, CEO @ Impex-Africa
Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Francois Ouadeba, CEO @ Impex-Africa
How would you describe your career path in a few words ?
My career is a story of self development. Creating a business out of a small idea has not been easy, especially as an African in Europe. In order to get to where I wanted to be I had to create opportunities for myself. But always having the interest of my fellow Africans in the back of my mind motivated me to achieve my goals.
From the start in 2011 I never settled, but always strived to grow the business network in Europe as well as in Africa. I’m proud of the impact my company has these days. And to now have the ability to share my experience and support young entrepreneurs in Africa makes all the struggles along the way worthwhile.
What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset ?
Let us be honest with this. Starting a company as an African in Europe you are already in a disadvantage to begin with. To overcome these hurdles you need to be strong in all aspects - mentally, emotionally, financially, physically and professionally. I had to learn how to deal with rejection, ignorance, provocations and also the suspicion of the police.
I knew that I needed a team to succeed. But until I finally found suitable candidates, the most challenging was to stay disciplined despite being alone and without any support. It was tough to keep going when you are surrounded by people who want to see you fail and almost nothing works in your favor.
I had to understand that my biggest supporter is myself and that I have enough self confidence and belief to go for it alone if I have to.
Also changing my mindset when facing failure was important. I learned to recognize that a dead end is just an opportunity to take a different path and that it doesn’t mean your goal has to change. Accepting new realities is key to moving forward.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think ?
With the line of work that I am in you always have to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. It’s not required to have an immediate solution for every problem, you just have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.
Important is to never lose confidence and faith in yourself and not let the situations get on top of you. The more experience you get the less you are shaken by new challenges.
What’s the most important key success factor for you based on your experience ?
Perseverance is what brings you all the way. Ideas and courage get you started, but without great discipline and focus it’s not going to work out. Along the journey you have to be open to new challenges and stay innovative without losing your focus.
What would be the major pitfall that may undermine the success of a leader?
It’s crucial to be a team player. Being a dominant leader would only deprive you of any great input your team members are able to give. Instead you should accept feedback, appreciate opinions and ideas and benefit from a healthy and productive work environment.