1. What was your first job?
My first job, when I was 22 years old, was at Total Oil Marine in Aberdeen in the UK, where I worked as an economist analysing macro and micro economic factors, the feasibility of wells and sensitivity analysis.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
The excitement of closing a deal and finding solutions to complex problems keeps me awake at night.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
I was lucky enough to have two people who had the biggest impact on my career. At British Petroleum (BP) UK, Anthony Shoots was a great manager and mentor. He helped shape my future with great advice and interesting points of view. When I returned to Angola, I worked with José Patrício who was the BP Angola president at the time, a great political thinker and technocrat who was instrumental in my further development. Our relationship was built on mutual respect – we learnt from each other and we are still great friends today.
4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
Be brave, trust your instincts and always believe in yourself.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I believe in always being honest and truthful to people and clients.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
In my opinion, leadership is best learnt on the job. Business school is important as it equips you with essential tools, however, in real life you learn from both your successes and your mistakes in leading and dealing with people.
7. How do you relax?
I relax by enjoying time with my family and friends, preferably at the beach, having great food and enjoying the sea on a jet ski.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
I get up at 5:20am every morning and head straight to the gym. That’s the only way I manage to ensure my fitness routine. After that I go to the office to start the work day.
9. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
I see African leaders talking about all the opportunities and resources in Africa. But we as leaders and entrepreneurs need to create these opportunities as success does not just happen. Leaders are individuals who take initiative and I believe that everyone can be a leader in their own right.
It is fundamental to have a structured plan to shape your own progression, at times to be maverick and make changes and to always be aware of the impact you have on your environment.
Leadership is learnt with time. Don’t try to cut corners and skip some of the fundamental steps as it’s these steps which are crucial in developing your leadership potential.
Cochan Group is based in Angola and manages a diversified investment portfolio in the areas of agribusiness, distribution, energy, real estate and transportation and logistics.