7 Questions with Bisila Bokoko
Name: Bisila Bokoko
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: BBES
BISILA BOKOKO is considered one of the ten most influential Spanish women in American business. Former director of the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in New York, CEO of BBES International and Founder of BBLP African Literacy Project Bisila Bokoko whose mission is to promote literacy among African people. BB has created a collection of wines called “Bisila Wines” made in Spain, which has received international recognition. Since 2010 she works closely with the UNCTAD with EMPRETEC program, supporting emerging entrepreneurs from all parts of the world. Recently Bisila has been awarded by the UN Hospitality Committee with the 2019 Citizen of the World Award, and she is the recipient of the 2019 International Award by the Spanish Federation of Women Managers, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs (FEDEPE). She is also has been awarded by Ideal Woman organization in Equatorial Guinea, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Women Work, Inspiring Leader Award by the University of New York (NYU) among others along her career.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
A key challenge for the board is to have an extremely well-defined purpose. The board should have a clear sense of direction. The purpose must encompass the board’s fiduciary responsibilities of loyalty, diligence and care
2. How did you become a board member of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had my first experience as a board member when I had to deal with a board myself as a CEO for the Spain- US chamber of commerce. I learnt then to be a member myself understanding that a board member is there to serve and put the knowledge and experience to help the organization to achieve its dreams. My first experience is at Empretec at the UNCTAD as a Chair of the Board
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have a routine that serve me for years and is based in a morning ritual routine. I get up early 5.30-6 am and I meditate for 20-30 min then I go to the gym and exercise for 30-45 min or I practice yoga. I have a journaling practice that it’s amazing since I was 12 years old, I write about my feelings, goals and dreams. I do a gratitude practice, writing about 10 things I am grateful for. The first 3 h of the day are my solo time to be the best version of myself before I face the day. Then I have a yummy breakfast with my husband during the week and during weekends is a family affair with the kids. By 9 am I start my day and I work for 3 h focus then a break at noon for snack time and I do use that time for rest 15 min watching a video of personal development or I practice French or anything that can be entertainment and at the same time educational. I work for 3 more hours and then I have another meal with my husband or we go out to lunch or I meet clients or my social network for late lunch. I do the less pressing activities from 4-6 pm and then I just stopped working and spend time with my family and dinner time. I love to go to bed early, by 10.30 pm the latest is what works best for me. I also organize my week by the tasks that I like the less or take more energy from me I do them from Monday to Wednesday and Thursday’s and Friday’s are more relaxed and it’s great days to schedule board meetings and master mind groups or meetings to expand networks.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership is a lifelong journey through different experiences every day. Every situation, every experience, every lesson learned sheds more light on this enormously demanding duty. The leader develops people, build other leaders
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a large enterprise?
The board must act honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of the venture. Doing well governance include the following: Vision: Envisioning the future and developing the mission Direction: Setting goals and policies Transparency: Maintaining open processes, shared information, effective communication standards, and regular and meaningful reports Guidance: Providing advice and direction Due diligence: Getting inside the metrics and judging the risks involved Commitment: Being engaged emotionally and intellectually to the venture’s course of action
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a large enterprise?
The board makes the decisions and management carries them out. Due to the litigious nature of our society, boards are taking a stronger interest in day-to-day management activities because of the ensuing impact on its fiduciary responsibilities. Boards need to be informed of how the organization is being managed to protect its legal responsibilities, but the board role should not cross over into performing management duties.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member of a large enterprise so far?
Being a board member of a large organization we had to deal with a change of direction to adapt to the new times and develop a vision. What we did as a board is to really listen to all of the members of the organization and not only the CEO. We invited to the board meeting all members of the staff and this was incredibly productive and the staff felt heard and seen and deeply appreciated. We were able to work more efficiently as we build the new vision together.