Getting to the Top: In Pursuit of a Challenge

IMG_0871Alexandre Mey likes a challenge. His leadership journey to date has been defined by his ability to turn around struggling businesses and to tackle challenging situations.

He is currently the general country manager for Qatar National Bank in Mauritania. Before joining Qatar National Bank, he spent more than 20 years at Société Générale. His positions at Société Générale included heading up the bank’s Morocco business at the age of 30 and deputy CEO at its Russian operation. He also led Société Générale’s integration with Russian bank Rosbank.

“I have an appetite for challenges. I’m ready to bear risk, but always controlled,” Mey said recently from his office in Mauritania. When he took the position in Morocco he had no manager experience before. It tested his capabilities to turnaround the business. Things changed fast and soon the bank was a leader in the country. That led to new positions in Russia.

Mr. Mey says he was attracted to Qatar National Bank because it has a plan to grow in Africa. Last year, it increased its stake in Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc.

Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

I’m very often assigned to change something, reverse something. I’ve learned to never enter a new challenge or new venture with pre-existing, established ideas.

I am really fond of the concept of a white paper: I don’t take assignments with preconceived ideas. I listen to people. I prefer to spend time to write my own paper from scratch. I try to count on existing people when I join a new team by identifying key people I can work with. I like to promote internally, and after 6 months in a new role I announce changes and create a new strategy.

Q: What leadership traits do you look for?

I like strong decision-makers. We can spend time discussing but at the end of the discussion we must have come to a decision.

I need a trusting relationship with people and I need them to believe in me.

I like the idea of a certain fusion or partnership with expats sharing and transmitting leadership experience with national people.

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