Ethiopia: Know the Executives - Tekleberhan Ambayeinterview
Tekleberhan Ambaye, general manager of Tekleberhan Ambaye Construction (TACON) Plc., "Big-hearted" When and where were you born and spent much of your youth?I was born on June 20, 1956, in the small village of Nebeleth in the Adwa region of Tigray. Can you describe your happiest childhood memory?
Anytime I had a chance to play football with my friends were sweet moments for me because my very strict parents did not let us out much.Who was the person you felt you had to impress when you were young?
My father and mother.Tell us about your first date with your spouse and a little about your family life.
Our first get-together was artless. Some mutual friends of ours were having coffee and invited me along. The first day I saw her I decided, for the first time ever, that this was the woman I would marry - if her personality was amiable. Which barbershop do you go to?
Ibex Hotel. What do you do during your downtime?
I like tennis, watching football, and reading, but I love to shop. Some might even say that I am a shopaholic. What was the most memorable experience of your educational life?
I was forced to cram a semester's courses into one month during my third year at the Technology Faculty of Addis Abeba University (AAU). The university tried to expel a few of my friends and myself on the charge that we had not paid the 550 Br required to switch faculties; which I had paid. The University Senate ruled in our favour. I will never forget the "A" I got in Maths 331.Can you share an incident at your first job that you will never forget?I graduated from AAU and got my first job right there as the boss. Because of my young age it was very difficult to get people to carry out my orders. I had to resort to aggressive methods to get people to do what I needed them to do,
which grieved me. What was your most awkward or embarrassing moment?
My supervisor at AAU called me in for a planning session after he had signed my termination papers that very morning. I knew that he had already signed the papers and it was awkward and painful for me to go through a planning session when I would not be around for the implementation.What has been the greatest challenge of your life?
My first construction project was in Borena, Oromia Regional State. No one wanted to bid on this very unstable region except me. I became the engineer and foreman for all three sites and completed the project in six months - half the time that was agreed upon. The return I got was very encouraging. What was the highlight of your career so far?
Building Edna Mall and bringing contemporary forms of entertainment for children and adults, which includes introducing advanced movie technology to Addis Abeba.What was your worst business decision?
A long time ago, I took on a project but I was so ambitious that I went and got an advance of many millions without the benefit of managerial expertise. It turned out to be a big loss for the company. Do you have a management philosophy?
I macro manage. I believe in giving people the freedom to work on their own but I also hold them accountable. I let them know that I expect results. Do you have a motto you live by?
Do not be short-sighted; look to long-term benefits. Who is your most respected competitor?
Getachew, my younger brother, who has great business acumen.(Getachew Ambaye is council member of the TPLF. አቶ ጌታቸው አምባዬ የመሬት ልማት ዘርፍ የከተማ ማደስና መሬት ባንክ አስተዳደር ባለሥልጣን ) Do you volunteer in any community projects?
Nebeleth (a village in Adwa), needed a school because children were being attacked during the long trips to the nearest school. I built a school that is big enough to accommodate 1,400 students there. I have constructed many others throughout Ethiopia and in the underprivileged areas of Addis. But in the Oromia and Gambella regions where the Adwa man is looting the resources to enrich himself, the schools look like this...Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the personal conduct of associates or staff?
There are so many that bother me, but above all I do not tolerate managers who cannot take responsibility and make decisions on their own. What three things are you most passionate about?
Seeing change and bringing new technology and ideas to Ethiopia. Describe yourself using only one word.Big-hearted. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!Would you share some of your favourites?
Book - Fikir Eske Mekabir by Addis Alemayehu;
Restaurant - Hilton Addis;
Website - http://www.themovietimes.com
.If you could go back in time, what would you change?
I could have completed so many of my plans if I only had started them when I was young and energetic. Building a water park, for instance.What do you expect the next generation will accomplish?
The next generation should be work oriented, which is what can make the difference.If you could pick a new career, what would it be?
Scientific agricultural researcher; I could invent better fertiliser, for example.http://allafrica.com/stories/201009131260.html