Interviewing Parag

My sister has experienced a lot traveling, studying and working abroad. I love hearing her stories. One fall I was lucky to meet one of her friends from India. Parag was visiting my sister in Finland. He lives in Ethiopia.

What is your job title?

Head of Business Development.

Where do you work?

Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Transnational Computer Technology.

How did you get in to the line of work?

Have always been in Technology consulting and Sales since I graduated from my business school.

Did you feel lucky landing your job?

Not when I landed the job, it was more of other reasons for which I took the job. I wanted to stay in Ethiopia after my previous project with PwC was over. I took the current one without much clarity over my role and responsibilities. As I got more comfortable in the job, I took more responsibilities and moved to the Business Development role. So in a way I do feel lucky that it turned out better than I expected it to.

What qualifications are needed?

Engineering background in IT is definitely helpful but not necessary. Business background and personal skills are more important in my opinion.

Are you striven by the work you do or your paycheck?

A bit of both, I don’t think it’s either/or. The same work without the same paycheck wont do the trick.

Does your work match your expectations?

Not really. Not at the moment. I feel after 4 years, I have seen and done it all that could be, I have contributed and need more challenges and different responsibilities.

Describe a basic day at work. Does it vary day by day?

Yes my work varies day to day. It gets hectic when I have a proposal to submit. When there is an international bid to be submitted, it gets extremely hectic , managing my local team with international teams to come up with a well written proposal document. On other days when there is no big bid to be submitted its rather easy paced. It’s mostly relationship management, client management, scouting for new opportunities etc..

What is the most exciting thing about your work and why?

To see a big team in action to produce really world class proposal document is very satisfactory. Since we do end to end implementation, it comprises of different aspects in a project, like infrastructure, Software implementation, Project Management, Change Management, Training, Networking and Hardware installation, Civil Work etc… all these teams are different and located all over the world. To coordinate all these people from around the world, and get them to be at their best and do all that with a strict deadline and at the same time ensure extremely high quality work is something I tried to build in the past 4 years with the organization. And to see the end result is an extremely satisfactory experience. Also when you win a bid which usually is close to multi million dollars it does give a lot of satisfaction.

What do you get asked about your job by friends and family?

Not much, it’s mostly about how is it to live in Africa.

Do you have bad days or moments? Why?

Sure I do. Ethiopia doesn’t have a great IT infrastructure. Clients here are not sure of what they want. They would have expectation of a really high end system but wont have any money to spend on it. So it happen very often that they come with a bid for systems and later cancel it after they read the proposals submitted by vendors as they realize they don’t have the money to pay for what they asked. Also the decision making is extremely slow here which makes it difficult for any private sector company as they have to wait for years to have results.

Do you have any advice for people considering your line of work?

My line of work is pretty standard, what is not standard is working in the environment in which I work. Working in Africa needs patience and more so in Ethiopia. It’s not only abt selling, its more abt educating the client first as the client here is not well versed at all with technology or its benefits. So patience is the key.

Thank you Parag!

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