7 Questions with Robert Aouad
Name: Robert Aouad
Current title: Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Current organisation: ISOCEL Telecom
Born in Ghana, Robert AOUAD studied Law in France and lived and worked in the United States for several years. A born entrepreneur, he moved to Benin since 1995, where he set up various distribution and sales companies for consumer products. In 2000, he created a company specializing in the marketing of GSM products. This was his first step in the world of telecommunications. From that date, he wanted to devote himself entirely to his new passion and as a self-learner, he took several initiatives to deepen his knowledge in this field. He always had the vision to promote better access to the Internet, especially for young people and low-income groups. He is the main promoter of ISOCEL Telecom, which became the leading private Internet Service Provider in Benin. A success story that relates a unique experience in the sub region through the innovation it has brought to the digital economy of this country.Thanks to this experience, ISOCEL is currently deploying optical fiber access networks in Benin, and is expanding its presence in several other West African countries.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The biggest challenge for a business owner, no matter its size, is to make sure to always stay focus and to be able to face constant responsibilities. Because he is also responsible for the well-being of his employees and their families, for that he has very little margin to take a wrong decision and any decision must be duly weighed and thoughtful in order not to compromise the future of the company and of those who made it.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I am an self-taught, having created a multitude of companies in various sectors. Much of what I have learned and the experience I have gained over the past 30 years has come from the work I do on a daily basis and from my thirst for knowledge. Since I started all of these companies, I became de facto the one in charge.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
To be quite honest, my day is very atypical. First I devote myself to the urgent then to the important. I also discuss a lot with my colleagues, especially with those who are closest to my vision and with whom we share the same objectives.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I always wanted to motivate my colleagues, congratulating them when they reach a goal. It's important to make others feel that they are appreciated, it certainly motivates them and pushes them to always move forward. Getting the most people to adhere into the company's vision is in my opinion the best significant leadership
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?
You will find it funny but it would be The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I think his writings are good to use not only in politics, but also in business and everyday life.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
It is by giving enough space and freedom to its colleagues that we encourage them to build their own leadership within the entreprise. This must be accompanied by constant gratitude to them when they shine.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
In my opinion, it is when all the components of the company close ranks and create a bulwark around the management. We had this experience when we were faced with situations of unfair competition and at that time all staff fought to eradicate these unfairnesses.