Name: NANGNAMANAGRE Gnanssori Bienvenu
Title: TRANSPORT OFFICER
Organisation: OLAM INTERNATION CÔTE D'IVOIRE
I’m, NANGNAMANAGRE Gnanssori Bienvenu a 43-years-old Ivorian professional.
As the current Business Transport Officer at OLAM International in Côte d’Ivoire, I’m leading the transformation of transport operations, elevating it from a cost center to a thriving profit center.
My leadership journey, marked by roles at HEINEKEN and NESTLE Central and West Africa, showcases my expertise in supply chain, logistics, procurement, and project management. My achievements include successfully implementing Route To Market transformations, building strong Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Integrated Business Planning (IBP) processes from scratch and optimizing logistics networks.
My commitment to innovation and efficiency is evident in my track record of achieving substantial savings and implementing robust business strategies.
Beyond my professional accomplishments, I hold an Engineer Degree in Logistic and Transport, complemented by executive certifications from MIT Sloan School of Management, Wharton School, IMD and Harvard Business School, reflecting my commitment to continuous learning and professional development.
Fluent in English and French, I am a transformative leader driving impactful change in the field of logistics and supply chain management.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope NANGNAMANAGRE's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a leader, the most challenging is to successfully shift the mindset of team members so that they remain consistently aligned with the current challenges. We live in a world where change is the norm. Everything is in a state of flux: the environment, the climate, yesterday's certainties are not today's, technology is constantly evolving, economic players are in perpetual mutation, the legal framework is evolving and for a company to survive and thrive, it must be led by individuals who are agile enough and in tune with these various changes.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I began taking on leadership roles while still a student. I had a quite rich and active involvement in student associations frequently assuming positions of significant responsibility such as spokesperson, event organizer, financial research coordinator, and manager.
In the professional sphere, I started in a coordinator role where my task was to align the efforts of various stakeholders from different departments towards a common goal despite lacking hierarchical authority over them. Gradually, I progressed to overseeing transformation projects where the most critical aspect was to initiate and manage change serving as a role model myself.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my day quite early, around 4 a.m., with prayer and meditation. Following this, I take a shower and review the main activities scheduled for the day. After having breakfast, I head to the office.
The workday begins with a review of the previous day's activities with the team. This involves presenting key performance indicators from the previous day, followed by updating the action plan to address identified issues. Next, we go through the day's activities, prioritizing them using the Eisenhower Matrix. This entire process takes a maximum of one hour.
Subsequently, the execution phase begins based on the day's planned activities. There is a lunch break around noon lasting approximately one hour.
Generally, I schedule visits for the afternoon, both those I receive and those I conduct.
The day concludes with a briefing on the day's activities and alignment on the night's activity plan. I manage a business that operates 24/7.
After finishing work at 6 p.m., I spend about an hour at the gym before returning home. After freshening up, dinner is at 8 p.m., followed by about an hour of reading, typically a management book or another area where I've identified a need for additional training.
Finally, I reflect on my day, meditate on a passage from the Bible, pray, and go to sleep around 10 p.m.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The recent events that unfolded within OpenAI (the mother company of ChatGPT) have reinforced my belief that personal competence and team cohesion are crucial for personal and organizational survival.
In summary, on November 17, 2023, Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT, was removed from his position by the Board citing a loss of trust. A few hours after the announcement of his dismissal, Greg Brockman, President of OpenAI and co-founder of the company with Sam Altman, announced his resignation. The next day, a number of company shareholders (including MICROSOFT) began pressuring for Sam Altman's reinstatement as CEO.
On December 20, MICROSOFT announced the recruitment of Sam Altman to lead its advanced Artificial Intelligence research division. At the same time, over 90% of OpenAI's staff openly threatened to resign from the company and join Sam Altman if he was not reinstated as CEO.
Finally, on November 21, after intense negotiations, Sam Altman was reinstated as the CEO of OpenAI and his partner Greg Brockman returned to the Board. As a condition for their return, they secured the dismissal of the board members who had initiated Sam's removal.
This story highlights several key points of leadership :
First, Sam Altman demonstrates proven competence in his field (advanced Artificial Intelligence). It is because he is an obvious source of value creation that MICROSOFT immediately offered him a strategic and sensitive position.
Additionally, there is genuine cohesion within OpenAI. The leadership and staff are bound by strong values and a deep sense of belonging. This is why almost the entire staff was willing to follow Sam Altman to MICROSOFT.
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 book "Becoming a Great Leader" written by Steven B. Sample has had a profound impact on my leadership style. It is an intellectual masterpiece that I first read in 2006 towards the end of my engineering training. According to Steven Sample, a great leader is first and foremost an open, independent mind. Secondly, he is someone who confronts problems head-on and does not shy away from challenges or unpleasant tasks. Finally, he is someone who establishes and respect a code of conduct with his collaborators. These valuable pieces of advice have been my guiding principles when undertaking a leadership-intensive mission.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I would tell them to place the well-being of the human being at the center of their strategies and actions. In reality, whether we are aware of it or not, the human being is at the beginning and the end of every human endeavor. It is always a human being who initiates and it is always human beings who, in the end, are impacted by the final result, whether it is positive or negative.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
The company I worked for was going through a crisis so severe that it was on the brink of bankruptcy. As the level of accounts receivable soared, major distributors formed an association to resist pressure from the company for debt collection. Concurrently, the main competitor, the market leader, secured distribution channels by offering generous incentives to secondary distributors (covering warehouse rents, extended payment terms, increased discounts, etc.). In this context, a Sales Director was hired and I was promoted to the position of Transport and Warehousing Manager. Our main mission was to release the company from the grip of distributors and competition, restoring profitability and sustainable growth.
To achieve this, we pioneered direct sales, delivering products directly from the factory and company warehouses to final retail points without involving distributors. This approach resolved the debt collection issue as sales were made on a cash basis. The solution was advantageous for retail points as they no longer needed to move for supplies; we delivered stock directly to them daily. Moreover, eliminating intermediaries (distributors) reduced costs, enabling us to offer more generous discounts to these final clients.
The solution proved so effective that two months after implementation, the company regained its pre-crisis sales levels. Initial distributors, realizing they were losing a lucrative business, reconsidered and began settling their debts to be reintegrated into the distribution chain. We agreed to their reintegration on the condition that they achieved a weekly sales target and adhered to a defined debt repayment schedule. In case of failure, either in meeting sales objectives or the debt payment pace, we proceeded with direct sales to customers in the area initially assigned to that distributor.
This approach definitively resolved the issue, enabling our company to regain growth, profitability, and a drastic reduction in outstanding debts.