Name: Kosona Chriv
Title: Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Organisation: Deko Integrated and Agro Processing Limited
I am the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Deko Group, a group specialized in the agricultural and agrifood value chain from crops cultivation, crops processing, export of value added products and agricultural technologies provider for our operations. Our objectives are to be in the top 5 agribusiness firms in Nigeria in the next 5 years and to transform the agricultural and food sectors in Nigeria and the ECOWAS countries through disruptive technologies and innovations. Before I co-founded Deko Group with my business partner Mr. Eseosa Obadiaru in 2015, I was Managing Director of Smart International Consulting in Cambodia, an international consulting firm specialized in the management of foreign investment in the agricultural and agrifood sectors.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Kosona's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging as a leader is to make our team understand the importance of technology and innovation as an important component to our success, and make sure that staff inside our group are aligned with our company’s values and objectives.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Before I co-founded Deko Group with my business partner Mr. Eseosa Obadiaru in 2015, I was Managing Director of Smart International Consulting in Cambodia, an international consulting firm specialized in the management of foreign investment in the agricultural and agrifood sectors.
Nigeria is rich in agricultural resources but due to the lack of technologies and innovations, most of these resources are lost after the post-harvest. Therefore, we aim to bring technologies and innovations to fill this gap and produce high value added products through technologies and innovations made in Nigeria and through technologies transfers from international partners.
Deko Group is headquartered in Nigeria and includes 3 member companies:
Deko Integrated and Agro Processing, Nigeria
Deko Farms and Livestock, Nigeria
Deko Industries, Cambodia
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As our company is based in 2 continent (Cambodia in Asia and Nigeria in Africa), I stay connected with my team through WhatsApp. I am also in charge of international development, therefore I also spend time on online meeting with our business partners and clients throughout the world. Every week, I take time to visit our crop fields to check the progress of our agricultural operations and also to visit the construction sites of our company.
As I value continuous learning and experience sharing among our staff, I make myself available to my team in case they need my input on a particular topic.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
My first lesson learned as a Leader was on the recruitment of our Senior Managers. Due to their good speaking, I was influenced to choose a bad senior manager. From this lesson learned, we have put in place a very strict online assessment tool that all candidates have to pass through to ensure that candidates who passed this first phase complied with our high expectations.
I also encourage our senior managers to lead by example and allow our staff to make mistakes but make sure they will never make the same mistake again.
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?
The Art of War by Sun Tzu, a classic book of military strategy that offers advice on how to win in war and life, had a big impact on my leadership style.
Here are some key points from the book that inspired my leadership style:
- Know yourself and your enemy
- Be adaptable and flexible
- Lead by example and inspire your team
- Be decisive and act swiftly
- Seek wisdom and learn from others
I have also published a post “Applying Sun Tzu’s Art of War to Agriculture: Lessons and Strategies” at https://dekoholding.com/dekoposts/dHTzjokYJDeaG77Tu/applying-sun-tzu-s-art-of-war-to-agriculture-lessons-and/dekonews to share how “The Art of War” can be applied to the agriculture and agribusiness.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Learn to be patient, as sometimes a success will come only after a failure. Lead by example, and inspire your team by your vision of what needs to be achieved and make sure that all of them adhere to your vision.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
During the COVID-19 time, our funders put our projects on hold as they worry about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our business performance. During this hard time, I faced pressure from my senior managers and my family to leave this investment, but my business partner and myself kept confident in each other and we strongly believed in the impact of our project on the economic development of Nigeria and to the local communities. My lesson learned from this hard time is that a leader can achieve success if he or she strongly believes that his or her venture can have good social and economic impacts on people.