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7 Questions on Leadership with Philip Adaagonsa


Name: Philip Adaagonsa


Title: CEO


Organisation: Phidago Ltd


Philip Adaagonsa, an agricultural visionary and dynamic entrepreneur, navigates the agribusiness landscape with an unwavering commitment to innovation and sustainability. Armed with an MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Catholica University of Milan, his journey began in the world of science as a science and medical lab scientist.


Transitioning from the laboratory to the fields, Philip embraced the challenge of modernizing agriculture. As the Founder and CEO of Phidago Ltd, he leads with a transformative vision, fostering groundbreaking solutions to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition. Philip's leadership journey, from hands-on farming to pioneering Farmer Incubator Programs, narrates a tale of resilience, mentorship, and the relentless pursuit of a sustainable future.


In the corridors of agribusiness, Philip Adaagonsa stands not only as a leader but as a catalyst for change, inspiring others to join the crusade towards a healthier, more sustainable world.


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


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


Cheers,

Jonno White



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


As a leader, one of the most exhilarating yet challenging aspects has been steering Phidago Ltd towards a future defined by innovation and sustainability in agribusiness. Navigating the delicate dance between staying true to our roots and embracing cutting-edge technologies demanded a strategic vision. Balancing the pursuit of groundbreaking solutions with maintaining operational stability requires a nuanced approach.


In the dynamic agribusiness landscape, the challenge lies in fostering a culture where the team not only adapts to change but thrives on it. It's about creating an environment that encourages calculated risks, embraces continuous learning, and champions the spirit of innovation. This journey involves not just leading but inspiring a team to envision and implement solutions that go beyond conventional boundaries.


These challenges, while demanding, are also the driving force behind our success. It's about transforming obstacles into opportunities, ensuring that Phidago Ltd not only keeps pace with industry changes but sets the pace. This commitment to innovation and resilience positions us not just as leaders in agribusiness but as pioneers shaping the future of sustainable food production.


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


Embarking on my journey as a medical lab scientist, little did I know that my quest for understanding life at a microscopic level would evolve into a much broader narrative. From analyzing microbes in a lab to sowing seeds in the fertile earth, my transformation into a farmer became the canvas for something extraordinary.


The transition from a world of precise measurements to the unpredictable realm of agriculture was not just a career shift; it was a profound metamorphosis. In the vast expanse of farmland, the vision for Phidago began to take root.


What started as a yearning for a tangible connection with life burgeoned into a venture that aimed not only to cultivate crops but also to sow the seeds of sustainable agribusiness. Each day on the farm became a dynamic interplay between scientific knowledge and the uncontrollable forces of nature.


But Phidago is more than a farm; it's a testament to the fusion of diverse experiences and a singular purpose. Armed with an MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship and Innovation, I stepped into the dual role of farmer and visionary entrepreneur.


Phidago, for me, symbolizes a journey that goes beyond the confines of a traditional career path. It's a story of resilience, adaptability, and an unyielding commitment to creating a sustainable future. The transition from a lab coat to overalls was not just about embracing a new profession but about recognizing the immense potential of agriculture to address global challenges.


As the founder and CEO of Phidago, my leadership narrative is deeply rooted in the very soil we cultivate. It's a story of a medical lab scientist turned farmer turned entrepreneur, driven not only by business acumen but by an innate sense of responsibility to contribute meaningfully to a world hungry for innovative solutions to solve food insecurity and malnutrition confronting the world.


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


Below is how I structure my work days from waking up to going to sleep.


5:00 AM - 6:00 AM: Rise and Energize:

Begin the day with my morning rituals, including meditation, exercise, and a nutritious breakfast.


6:00 AM - 8:00 AM: Strategic Planning:

Leverage the early hours for strategic thinking and planning. Review priorities, assess ongoing projects, and set clear objectives for the day.


8:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Deep Work and Operations:

This block remains dedicated to focused, uninterrupted work. Whether overseeing farm operations, engaging in business development, or collaborating with the team, tackle the most challenging tasks during this period.


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lunch and Rest:

Taking a break for lunch is essential. It's not just about nourishing the body but also about stepping away from work briefly to recharge. This might include a short walk or moments of reflection.


2:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Collaborative Work:

Afternoons are reserved for meetings, collaboration with team members, and external partnerships. Synchronize efforts, brainstorm ideas, and ensure everyone is aligned with objectives.


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Administrative Tasks:

Dedicate time to administrative tasks, including paperwork, financial reviews, and any necessary follow-ups. Plan for the next day and make adjustments to priorities.


7:00 PM - 8:00 PM: Dinner and Relaxation:

Unwind by having dinner, sharing a meal with family, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.


8:00 PM - 9:30 PM: Personal Growth:

Allocate evenings to personal growth, which might involve reading industry literature, attending webinars, or exploring innovations for the benefit of Phidago.


9:30 PM - 10:30 PM: Wind Down:

Start winding down an hour before bedtime. Disconnect from electronic devices, engage in a calming activity, and ensure a restful night's sleep.


10:30 PM: Lights Out:

I prioritize a good night's sleep to recharge and approach the next day with energy and focus.

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


A recent leadership lesson that has been reinforced for me is the significance of adaptability. In a rapidly changing business landscape, being able to adjust strategies, embrace new technologies, and navigate uncertainties is paramount. The ability to lead with flexibility and openness to change ensures not just survival but growth in dynamic environments. This lesson continually reminds me to foster a culture of adaptability within Phidago, empowering the team to navigate challenges and seize opportunities effectively.


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?


One book that profoundly influenced my leadership is "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink. This insightful book explores the science behind motivation and how it goes beyond traditional notions of rewards and punishments.


The impact on my leadership was transformative. It shifted my perspective on motivating individuals within Phidago. Understanding the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, as highlighted in the book, prompted me to reshape our work environment. I implemented strategies that fostered autonomy, provided opportunities for skill development, and connected each team member's role to the broader purpose of addressing food insecurity and malnutrition.


This shift not only improved the team's morale and productivity but also contributed to a more engaged and fulfilled workforce at Phidago. It reinforced the idea that true motivation comes from a sense of purpose and continuous personal and professional growth.


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


My advice to a young leader would be: "Cultivate a genuine curiosity and eagerness to learn. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and never underestimate the power of continuous learning. Stay open-minded, seek diverse perspectives, and be adaptable. The ability to learn and evolve is the foundation of effective leadership in a dynamic and ever-changing business landscape."


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


Embarking on a journey of leadership, I encountered a profound narrative within Phidago's Farmer Incubator Program. A young farmers, initially navigating the uncertainties of agriculture, found solace and guidance under my mentorship. Through a tailored support and hands-on tutelage, they not only cultivated crops but also sowed the seeds of resilience and innovation.


As the seasons unfolded, this once hesitant farmers blossomed into a confident agricultural entrepreneurs, embracing sustainable practices and contributing meaningfully to community development. This narrative embodies the core of my leadership ethos — the transformative influence of mentorship, the untapped potential residing in every individual, and the far-reaching impact of empowering others on the path to sustainable and impactful agribusiness.

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