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7 Questions on Leadership with Franck Bertrand Ayinda

Name: Franck Bertrand Ayinda

Title: Chief Public Policy Director

Organisation: Yandex Taxi

I am currently sharing two positions. One in private equity as the chief executive officer of KOMEYO TRADE AND INVESTMENT which has a portfolio of 3.9 billion USD and Public Policy Director of Yandex Taxi in Cameroon. KOMEYO TRADE AND INVESTMENT invests in logistics infrastructure and petroleum. Before these experiences I was a management consultant at Accenture in Morocco and the UAE. I graduated from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and ESC Clermont Business School in Clermont Ferrand, France.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Franck's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As a leader, what is most challenging is to keep your composure when those you are leading don't follow up. This is very difficult situation because you have to check within your self what you are doing wrong and how to do right. Leading people is also about trust they place upon you. Once you don't act in a way your followers expect you to, it's easy for them to fall out and it's hard to get them back on board.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I think I have innate leadership qualities however I don't know when I exactly became a leader. But I do recall what brought me into a leadership position. Before consulting with Accenture. I was very much inclined into social work and related activities. When Accenture called, I felt I would learn a lot and out it back into social work. However, after spending an unfruitful time, yet a learning moment in management consulting, I wanted to do something that would transform people's lives. I felt my experience in consulting gave me some insights but it wasn't very clear in my mind. So I decided to leave the comfortable life I had in Europe to return to Cameroon. In Cameroon the government had difficulties funding some infrastructures, roads, ports and logistics platforms. After spending time speaking with government and economic actors in Cameroon, I used my contacts in consulting and also the internet to get in touch with financiers who would be interested in funding projects through our company KOMEYO in Cameroon. This took some time to accomplish but when we met with several banks and, finally a Canadian investment fund, we ended up funding our first main industrial logistics project worth 150 million USD. This project would create 1000 jobs in construction phase and 500jobs permanently. The Prime Minister of Cameroon attended this signature event. This signature of the MOU immediately put us in pole position for the signature of the MOU with the Cameroon National port authority to build the Limbe Seaport which will be the largest in West Africa worth 3.8billion USD. I think I got into a leadership position through these experiences.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I structure my work according to what needs to be done. Before I sleep I think deeply about what's in my agenda. I think about what I have to do. I schedule the tasks to be done and I look at what could take me more time to do and I do it first or last depending on what I have to do for the day. I do acknowledge that sometimes I delay work because I need breaks and I need my body and mind to be in tune to keep doing work. When I start working I put my energy in full to accomplish what I have to do. Once It's over I plan the next thing and I plan the next steps. I also plan on taking rests. Self care is important for me to be efficient and effective.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Leadership is not about being perfect as a human being or as a leader. Leadership is about being flawed and being comfortable in the imperfections that make your leadership. This allows you to learn from your followers and helps you become a better leader.

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?

There are many books I can think of when it comes to books that serve as a source of inspiration. The book Bad Blood written by John Carreyrou, is a must read for anyone aspiring to become an entrepreneur or leadership. This book is about the story of an entrepreneur obsessed with fame that comes along with being a successful entrepreneur and does all the unethical things to attain the status of an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs using a faulty technology. This book has thought me about honesty and trust when you hire employees to accomplish a task. It's also important to respect the people and the background of those whom you work with in order to attain fixed goals. Another book which I can refer to anyone aspiring to be a leader. Leadership lessons from Nelson Mandela written by Richard Stengel. This for me the Graal of leadership qualities one should aspire to. This book had a profound influence on how I lead people and my teams.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

A piece of advice I will give to a young leader is to be themselves. Being yourself will only distinguish you from others. King Hassan II of Morocco used to tell his crown prince, Mohammed VI that a man's essence is his style. A man who does not have his own style does not have a pronounced character.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

When I started no one bet on me. Not my father, not my brothers and sisters. Not even friends believed in me. Being the oldest person in the family I got disrespected on numerous times. However I knew that being an entrepreneur or industrialist was my call and I never flinched to external pressure. Today, my family looks up to me, the government of Cameroon looks up to me for advice and solutions to economic problems, everyone else looks up to me for opportunity or for advice. You want to be a leader you will have to go at it alone without support of your family and friends.

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