7 Questions with Annabbelle Kanga
Name: Annabbelle Kanga
Current title: CEO, founder of AK Consulting Canada
Current organisation: AK Consulting Canada
As founder of the agency, I am currently in charge of the acquisition and negotiation of contract offers with governments and senior leaders in African countries.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Being the head of a company that connects two continents: Africa and North America, the main difficulty I encountered was a very different vision in terms of time management and priorities. Indeed, working in countries with different entrepreneurial values and with different procedural systems from those we know in the West has been very difficult. Not to mention all the obstacles that some of the countries have in terms of knowledge and mastery of technological tools, which here makes our lives much easier and considerably increases our performance.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I began this adventure when I was still a medical student in Switzerland, my country. Born to an African mother (Ivory Coast) and a Swiss father, I had a very close relationship with Africa through my mother. At that time I often received requests to put certain African companies and industries in touch with companies in Europe. And it was at this time that I really started to learn about the life I am currently leading. I learned how to get in touch with the top managers of European and Swiss companies to offer them trade relations with certain countries in Africa. I was able to offer them investment opportunities that were sent to me. I was hoping to play the role of a liaison officer at this time. To tell the truth, I had never imagined that I would be doing this in a corporate capacity. A few years later I made the decision to leave Switzerland for Canada, in order to specialize more in the medical field. Throughout this very inspiring and exciting journey, I began to feel the need to create something and as time went by this need became more and more present. Now I decided to take a step back and analyze everything I had done over the years. This period of introspection revealed to me all that I had built and neglected over the years, namely close relationships, relationships of trust with almost 48 heads of government in Africa. knowing that Africa has 54 countries in total, I realized that I had to make use of these connections. Better still, I felt the need to share it with as many people as possible.
I fundamentally believe that it is only through the collaboration and work of several entities (people) that a new world is created. That is why I decided to create this consulting agency, with the aim of connecting people with common goals and visions.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As soon as I get up at 5am in the morning, I drink a large glass of lemon water, eat a piece of fruit and do some exercises (running or walking for 20 minutes) to raise my energy level. Then I take a shower and have breakfast. During breakfast, I reread and revise if necessary my work plan for the day and prioritize it. Generally between 6am-6.30am I am sitting at my desk, because I often work from home. The content of my work varies a lot depending on the four different areas I work in: food processing, oil and gas, energy, construction, mining... As I work with African countries, the time difference helps to ensure good timing.
When i start my working day in Canada, my partners in Africa are close to their lunch break. As a result, all the documents they need to send me have already been done. I check them carefully; I make a lot of calls to the authorities and competent institutions to validate everything they send to me. Depending on the projects, I sometimes need to delegate people on the spot to check that everything that is stated really exists. All precautions are taken before I propose an offer to any Canadian Companies or investors.
As we offer a turnkey Service it‘s very important that all administrative areas are checked and validated before the contract can be ratified and the African continent, However, it’s important to note that my working days differ from one to another depending on the type of market I have.
I also have some working days during which I respond to contacts requests from some Canadian or African Companies or investors on different opportunities. An important things to specify in my daily routine is that i always set aside 1-1.5 hours a day for reading or training,
I usually finish my day between 7.30-8.30pm, after reviewing all my activities and redoing my work plan for the next day.
if necessary I cook my dinner and meet up with family and friends,
Before bedtime at 10.30 pm to 11pm I always set aside about 30 minutes to meditate and relax.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
An outside perspective can bring new perspectives when you need to create a new idea or enter a new territory.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
How successful people lead, this book teaches me how to step by step increase my own leadership. It' s helps me to profoundly create a change in my business and my relationships with business partners.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I build leadership capacity by developing productive teamwork, which means finding together good and understandable ways to advance my team.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
The story that comes to mind when I think about my career so far is the first time I came into contact with a government in an African country whose name I will not mention. I was confronted with such a difference in the way of working, in the management of tasks, in almost everything to the point that I wondered if I would be able to start this work. being a woman and quite young seemed to be an obstacle for them. ironically it is these two characteristics that I still use today to assert my leadership and make each party feel respected in the respect of their respective interests.