Almaz Negash is founder of African Diaspora Network (ADN), home of the African Diaspora Investment Symposium.
1. What was your first job?
My first job in the United States was at Volpe Welty Investment Banking in San Francisco. The job really thought me the discipline needed to work on complex projects ranging from researching on start-up companies to preparing roadshow presentations for senior management.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
I trust in my team; though there are times when I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about last minute details, especially these days with organising and leading the second annual African Diaspora Investment Symposium.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
My husband. I am married to a smart, loving, and kind man who encouraged me to fulfil my vision from getting my MBA, to starting my own consulting business, leading an international trade and investment mission globally, becoming director of Global Leadership and Ethics, leading a social innovation network and starting the African Diaspora Network. I can always count on my husband.
4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Focus on what you believe is right, get insight from trusted people, and go out and do it.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Achieving your vision, be it in business or life in general, begins with imagination. Once I am able to imagine what I wish to achieve, I give it full attention and focus. These attributes have been helpful to me.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
Leadership is a lifetime of learning that can be acquired on the job as well as in business school. The latter is needed to understand the nuances of leadership such as understanding the different personalities, views, and group dynamics. Business school can also be helpful in learning how to develop strategies, timelines, and execution of projects and programmes.
7. How do you relax?
I read, watch classic movies, and spend quality time with my husband, my son and my daughter.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
I wake up between 5 and 6 am. By 8 am, I am already working.
9. Your favourite job interview question?
“Tell me about yourself?” This gives the interviewee a chance to tell the interviewer who they are but most importantly, it is the one question that allows the interviewee an opportunity to connect with the interviewer.
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
In Africa, poverty is the primary cause for the lack of a decent education. So, I encourage our aspiring African entrepreneurs to use their ingenuity to come up with innovative ways to strengthen the educational infrastructure of the continent. Invest in Africa and Africans. Use your financial, intellectual, and social capital to better the lives of the many. Do well and do good.