1. What’s the secret to business success?
“If there is any one secret to success,” Olivier Bourrain said, “it lies in the ability to understand what customers in fast-growing markets actually buy.” “Do they just need a product or service?” he asked, “or do they actually want a relationship with someone reliable and friendly who is not on their payroll but who helps them deal with choice complexity in a chaotic world?”
M. Bourrain drew parallels with the customers of AllForSite, the Netherlands-
The France-born businessman summarized by saying that “in any given industry, customers ask for products and services but what they actually buy is piece of mind, satisfaction, ease, comfort or confidence. My job is to be the one they can rely, depend upon and believe in.”
2. Why working for you?
Mr. Bourrain, his critics and followers agree, is branded as a good and honest business leader worth following. Those who have dealt with him called him trustworthy, self-disciplined, energetic, courageous and fun.
Asked about the reasons why someone would work for his company, he replied: “To attract and retain the type of people a company needs and wants, it is essential to build a rockin’ culture that everybody dreams of belonging to. Passion, creativity and commitment are the qualities that a company requires most in order to be successful in the 21st century business world.” When looking for people to hire, Mr. Bourrain looks for people with a creative bent and a relaxed, curious, questioning mind. He also dropped a recruitment hint for wannabe recruiters, saying that “during job interviews, I always ask myself how I would feel having this same person working for my competition instead of for me.”
Mr. Bourrain reminded that “the best way for a company to be and stay successful is to be structured for speed and efficiency.”
He ended with a little piece of advice for jobseekers, paraphrasing JFK: “Ask me not what the company or I can do for you, but what together we can effectively contribute to and greatly affect the company’s performance and results.”
3. Why would foreign societies and economies allow you to export to their countries?
“One of the greatest challenges of our time will be to successfully incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into business strategies,”
“As part of our social responsibilities to the three geographic areas we focus on - Africa, Middle East, Central & Eastern Europe -, we have adhered to fair and mutually-beneficial business practices toward the countries in which we conduct business,” he stated.
Mr. Bourrain humbly reminded that “whether it is in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia or Slovak republic, the host society can put a business out of existence overnight if its activities don’t have a positive impact on local stakeholders (e.g., environment, consumers, communities, etc…). Simply put, the foreign countries we serve only tolerate us for a certain period of time. It’s only because “we do the right thing” that each host country periodically renew our license to operate in its territory.”
To illustrate his point, Mr. Bourrain recognized AllForSite’s social responsibility “as a distributor that serves the telecom industry to continue to provide the products and information it handles. The company controls and ensures its compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and international health and safety norms. AllForSite exists since the late 1990’s but exists only as long as Africa’s and Middle East’s economies believe that we do a necessary, useful and productive job.”
4. Why would somebody invest their money with you or your company?
Mr. Bourrain’s experience and expertise consist of implementing niche strategies to rapidly penetrate target markets in Africa, Middle East, Central & Eastern Europe. His focus is on fast-developing countries that are all-too-often ignored or neglected by the competition. He exploits the competition’
“With AFS for instance, the niche strategy has been to hit our competitors where they aren’t. We satisfy a need for market-leading telecom infrastructure products in Africa and the Middle East that already exists but that is not always adequately met. In other words, we serve a niche market that has already been created but that is not properly serviced,” Mr. Bourrain explained.
Mr. Bourrain insisted that his main responsibility is to contribute to, and noticeably affect, the performance and the results of the company he serves. “My responsibility is to protect the interests of our stakeholders - investors, customers, employees, suppliers and the countries where we do business - who are essential to our business success. I fulfill this responsibility to them by managing with accountability, transparency and integrity.”
About his personal development, the 41-year-old Frenchman confessed with a smile: “I wish I was gifted, but the reality is less glamorous: I have just learnt to become effective. I have enhanced my knowledge of international business development in a systematic form. I have learnt simple export practices by doing the same basic things over and over again. The repetition of those simple export practices has turned into deep-routed habits, almost like a conditioned reflex. That way, I can effectively get the right thing done in the least amount of time.”
Olivier concluded: “I think that success is possible in the long term only once you’ve removed the two greatest obstacles to your own effectiveness:
AllForSite is an independent supplier of equipment and supply chain management services for the mobile telecom industry in Africa and the Middle East. Headquartered in the Netherlands, AllForSite has more than 12 years’ experience across 50 countries for the largest mobile operators.
Olivier Bourrain has served as Executive Director and Board Member since 1999. He remains part-time involved in day-to-day sales operations. Since 2011, he offers independent consulting services to companies that seek expertise in fast-developing markets in Africa, Middle East, Central & Eastern Europe.