The saying “there is no substitute for experience” is one that is often used in the business world because managers with a thorough understanding of their businesses not only easily gain the respect of their employees, but they are usually good at navigating business crises too.
Today, GE Reports Africa interviews Vini Dall’Armellina, GE Mozambique’s Country Manager for Transportation. As the first GE employee in Mozambique, he was responsible for establishing the GE office in that country in 2012 and growing operations. As he prepares for his next role in GE Transportation’s global risk team, he looks back over the last couple of years.
“My main responsibility was to grow GE business in the country and that included setting up a permanent business for GE in Mozambique as well as building a network within both private and public environments that would support all GE businesses to pursue opportunities in the country,” says Dall’Armellina.
While this sounds like a daunting task, setting up an office would also provide the opportunity to create brand awareness. “When I first came to Mozambique in 2010, GE was thought of as an appliances company and people would ask me if I sold refrigerators. They just could not believe the size of GE and the businesses we were involved in. Now, after a few short years, GE is recognised as an important player in Mozambique’s development and most importantly, GE is now known as a brand that can be trusted.”
GE has sold more than 120 locomotives to four different customers in Mozambique and signed a maintenance agreement that created a strong parts flow to the country, thereby turning Mozambique into the second-largest rail transportation market in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Our first sale was to CFM, the state-owned railway company and it was the first purchase of a new locomotive for the country in over 20 years. The new C30ACi is able to pull trains that are 30% longer than the trains the old locomotives could pull. We also delivered more than 100 locomotives that will be operating in coal transportation because coal is the second-largest mineral resource in Mozambique, and is a key enabler to the country’s development and job generation,” he says.
Getting started was not easy. “In the beginning, getting people to open doors for an unknown company was very challenging. The government relations team had a key role in helping to build the necessary relations. And then, creating an understanding of the local business culture and explaining it to GE was probably more challenging than building a team,” says Dall’Armellina.
Finding the right people took time, but the office now has 49 employees, of which over 40% had little to no work experience before joining GE, and have now been able to grow their skills and experience.
“Delegating and developing talent is critical for everyone’s growth. We have to empower ourselves by understanding what has to be done and by proving we can do it. Discourage people from working in silos because we experience more success when we tackle problems as a team,” he says.