Fortune’s 60-second interview with business leaders
National Oil Company’s CEO, Tadesse Tilahun, Ethiopia’s Commodity Exchange’s CEO, Eleni Gebre-Madhin, Getu commercial Center’s Owner, Getu Gelete, International Business PLC General Manger, Habte-Selassie Tafesse, Lion International Bank president, Meresssa G Mariam were among a group of 18 business leaders included on the Fortune’s exclusive 60-second interview.
In a special edition for the end of the first year of the Ethiopian millennium, the business weekly put a list of questions to them about family, hobby, motto, aspirations and influential books they have read.
To the question, “What is the most influential book you have read?” five of them said the Bible. Imperial hotel’s manger, Tsegaye Asfaw said Walter Isaacson’s “Einstein: His Life and Universe” is the most influential book he has read. He said he has read everything about Einstein and has been to Princeton “to see the paths he took”. AFS International general manger, Zewge Alemu mentioned Cornell West’s “Race Matters.” United Bank’s president Berhanu Getahun singled out Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom.” Asked what her first job is Eleni said she was she was a cleaner in a Hamburger fast food in the United States at the age of 18.Zewge started life as kitchen dishwasher in an Italian restaurant in the US. The first job for Meskel Flower’s Managing director, Eskinder Joseph was a summer job for his father’s construction company.
Bragging, backbiting, dishonesty, pretension, abusing professional privileges for personal gain and jealousy were mentioned as vices that most disapprove of in a business environment. Tesgaye finds people who try to drive their own ideas and raises voices absolutely unacceptable.
To the question, “Do you have any websites that you visit on a daily bases?” Salvatore de Vita said he has just started on the internet: it was his children’s domain up to now.
Holland Car Operation Manger Tadesse Tessema and Meskel Flower’s managing director, Eskinder Joseph are regular BBC online readers. Country Trading PLC’s general manger, Biniam Berhe said he visits Bloomberg.com everyday. Eleni prefers Washington Post. Eleni said ECX, motherhood, and gardening are the three passions in her life.
Habte-Selassie Tafesse, the man credited for a major and dramatic change in Ethiopia’s tourism industry, said being recognized by the internationally known weekly magazine, Newsweek, featuring the Ethiopian Tourist Trading as the largest duty-free operation in the world has been the highlight of his career. His eight years of imprisonment for working to introduce tourism was, he said, his dramatic and memorable experience.
Ethiopian Shipping lines Managing Director, Ambachew Abraha said he’d like to have a very good Caribbean Cruise after retirement. Zewge would like to own an original painting of Eskinder Bogossain, whom he described as “a wonderful Ethiopian artist.”
Asked which one her favorite restaurant in Addis, Brehanena Selam Printing Enterprise general manger, Muluwork G.Hiowt said she has none and prefers to dine at home.” My daughter is the chef and I am the helper” she said. Castelli, an Italian restaurant in Piazza, is the favorite for four of business executives.
The remarkable thing is almost all of them do not remember the worst business decision that hey had taken. But Eskinder recalls a bad decision he had taken which was not related to business. He was a successful athlete at high school and one time they had a big championship against other schools. “I dropped out of my race and told my coach I was injured. I was actually exhausted and scared. All my life I have felt guilty,” he recounted.
The fortune, a dynamic business weekly, came up with an unusual bulky100 pages special New Year edition yesterday.