Mr. David Jones Mensah is one of the most distinguished CEOs on the continent of Africa, having attained some of the rarest feats at a young age. He was recently inducted into the African Leadership Magazine’s CEOs Hall of Fame in Johannesburg, South Africa. His business, the Dominion International Petroleum is a Ghana-based oil firm. In this interview, he shares his experiences in running a business in one of the most demanding industries globally.
There are series of momentous recognition that the African Leadership Strategy Group has thoroughly considered you for, most notably, the induction into the CEOs Hall of Fame, what are your thoughts on these?
I am highly humbled to be inducted into the CEOs Hall of Fame and to join fellow inductees of this distinguished organization. I want to extend my gratitude to the board for selecting me and to congratulate this year’s nominees each of whom have made enormous contributions in their respective fields of work. I’ve always believed that recognition, no matter how small, plays a huge role in motivating our youths to work harder in order to attain their goals.
Looking back at the journey of entrepreneurship, one would have thought that it must have taken ages to get what you have done in such a short time. What are the core values that helped you gain a footing and make a name in your industry?
Dominion International Petroleum is built on the bedrock of the family business, whose core values have been our catalyst for growth in the petroleum sector. In a sector that is ever changing it has been a consistent team effort to develop an innovative strategy to generate value for our stakeholders. Our entrepreneurial journey has been characterized by a strong work ethic coupled with a passion for serving our clients and maintaining integrity in our industry.
The continent of Africa is said to have the largest aggregate of youths, with unemployment as the primary challenge. In your assessment, how far are we from tackling this menace, and what are the effective strategies to stem this growing tide?
Africa needs to develop a coherent economic strategy that identifies capacity gaps, which emerges from institutional frameworks from a regional level to country level. Other critical areas of consideration include improving access to quality education in order to address challenges facing youth unemployment. Thirdly, it is crucial for governments to create a thriving private sector by introducing policy frameworks geared towards capacity building or development efforts in potential employment-creating sectors, such as agriculture, oil & gas, construction, manufacturing and small & medium enterprises, which can absorb the growing labor force.
What is the place of your ivy-league education in your success so far, because many would make allusion to it being the heads-up factor?
In my opinion, access to quality education, Ivy-league or Not, gives you the fundamental skills you need to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. My educational background from Imperial College London and the University of Buckingham have been very valuable to my professional developments and career outcome. I definitely cannot discount the role that my passion and drive for a significant and purposeful change has played either. In all, I truly believe long-term career success is based on an individual’s willingness to succeed and ploughing ahead regardless of your current condition.
One would assume the story of your burgeoning empire to be all but roller coaster, are there decisions that have come back negatively, painful moments or regrets so far?
Trading is always associated with market risk. Traders can mitigate market risk by establishing appropriate hedging strategies. I personally do not consider a bad business decision, which I am no stranger to, a mistake but a learning curve. Entrepreneurship is a journey as opposed to a final destination. It has its ups and downs but the key is to always remain focused. Strategies always change but the goal remains the same.
The first-rate countries make regular boast of non-renewable energy sources – particularly crude – giving way to clean and renewable energy in the nearest future, what do you make of this, and what is the place of your firm in this predicted not-so-distant future?
DIPL is a strong advocate for sustainable development. Our firm values a strong and practical balance between economic benefit and creating an environmentally friendly business that caters to all stakeholders. This is the reason why we undertook the ‘Memory Tree’ initiative as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility to plant 1,000 trees annually to reduce our carbon footprint. We are also strongly considering expansion into renewable energy in the near future.
Diversification upon consolidation and the dominance of a sector are the common themes in the business environment. What new frontiers do we expect your group to make incursions into in years to come?
Sidalco Group of Companies is currently focusing on supply-chain integration in the agriculture, construction, oil & gas, real estate and hospitality industries. With response to new frontiers what I can say is that currently, our primary focus and goal is the establishment and implementation of cutting-edge technology across the manufacturing areas in the group of companies in order to drive value addition as well as maximize our corporate social responsibilities. The group has been built on taking a stakeholder approach across board without compromising our integrity with hopes that this will lead to dominance in all sectors as we have demonstrated in our primary sectors.
Finally, congratulations on the plethora of recognition, how would it strengthen or improve what you are currently doing?
I really appreciate this recognition, but I honestly feel this recognition goes beyond me. This award, in particular, represents a beacon of hope for the youth of Africa and goes a long way to recognize the achievements of our resilient and hardworking youth. This award is dedicated to every youth pursuing a dream and represents a future symbol of our great African continent.