CEO Lifehacks: Mark O'Donnell, Chairman, Union Gold Zambia
In the second quarter of every year, we run a series of ‘CEO Nights’ where we asked the current CEOs/Chairs of the top 100 companies in each country to spend time with the community of 'next-in-line CEOs' that make up The Africa List to unpack what the jump from C-suite to CEO really looks like, and how best to prepare for it. We only run 'CEO Night' once a year so to make the interactions with the CEOs in attendance as structured and useful as possible, we also put some of our guest CEO/Chairs in the hot seat and groups of members took turns grilling them on their 'CEO Life Hacks' in productivity, leadership and management strategies and their personal journey.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
“When you start a business you think I need a building, I need machines, I need money, but what you really need are the best people, so it makes sense to spend a good part of your day thinking about your people. Are they happy? Are they meeting their objectives? Are they passionate about what they are achieving in the company?”
How do you encourage new ideas?
“I don’t like titles in my company. I think hierarchy is stifling and I like everyone to be able to talk. I encourage everyone to come to me with ideas, as long as they know that my next two questions are ‘why’ and ‘how’?”
Do you get good people or do you make good people?
“I actually like it when someone fails because it means that they’ve made a decision. So many people go through the day without ever committing themselves or the company to anything, so even if it’s the wrong decision it’s not necessarily bad. We can sit down and talk about it, understand why it was wrong and we can do something about it. It’s better than making no decisions at all.”