‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Amr Shady, CEO, TA Telecom (Egypt)
1. What was your first job?
I was a project manager in a family business, a very successful electro-mechanical company my father founded in the 80s. It was based out of Saudi Arabia and I was in charge of supervising the launch of the Cairo office and new projects the company landed in Egypt starting in 1997.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
That would be my father. He’s one of the entrepreneurial success stories that I look up to. What he has been able to achieve with so little always inspires me.
3. The parts of your job that keep you awake at night?
I am always learning new things, from courses I take, entrepreneurs I meet, conferences I attend. I am always, always, thinking how this applies to my company, how we can make this newly acquired knowledge or inspiration work for us.
4. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I believe it is very important for any entrepreneur or executive to constantly redefine what success means, to challenge yourself, set a higher bar, year on year. It’s about changing your expectations from yourself, your company, your teams.
5. The best things about your country, Egypt?
What makes Egypt hold a place in my heart is its people. There is something so special about Egyptians. They always have hope, no matter what they are going through, and a sense of humour.
6. And the worst?
The injustice, the media and the disparity between rich and poor.
7. Your future career plans?
I will focus the coming period on my Master of Science in Business Analytics. I believe this will lay a strong foundation for our companies to make the next leap in growth and maintain our global competitiveness. The world is becoming smaller and smaller, and we need to make sure African companies, including ourselves, have the tools to compete.
8. How do you relax?
First, spending time with my wife and kids can really help me relax. Playing with my children easily gets me off of thinking about any issues. Traveling, changing scenery allows me to take a step back, relax and think clearer. Being close to my mother, making sure she’s doing well and being on her good side works for me too. For my daily relaxation, I enjoy praying and meditating during the early hours of the morning.
9. Your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
For the entrepreneurial revolution to succeed in Africa, entrepreneurs must stay ambitious and acquire the know-how to take their good ideas to market and grow their companies successfully on the regional and global levels. African entrepreneurs should be tenacious in the pursuit of opportunities and to bring their ideas to life.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
By investing in its people. Everything else is icing. Everything else is short term. What we need most is investment in education and exposing Africans of all ages to other parts of the world.
Amr Shady is the founder and CEO of TA Telecom. The company offers telecom operators, brands and NGOs a wide range of mobile managed value added services (VAS) such as mobile applications, content delivery platforms and mobile marketing solutions. It has operations in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Libya.