Ep 66 // A Non-African Manager and Founder Working in Africa with Chris Suzdak
Being a leader/manager/founder in a foreign country poses a unique set of challenges, especially one where you stick out as being foreign. Founder and American expat living in Mauritius, Chris Sudzak joins Leadership Coach Akua Nyame-Mensah to talk about what it’s like to work and start a business in a foreign country. He also discusses his leadership journey and his experiences with executive coaching.
Chris has worked across the African continent for several years and is now based in Mauritius. He is a founder of a new startup, CoffeeChat, a coaching platform trusted by top companies across Africa. From interns to CEOs, CoffeeChat helps democratize access to personalized coaching sessions with peers and professionals to accelerate their growth.
In this episode, you’ll learn about Chris’s leadership journey, from learning to manage large teams to becoming a founder and now looking ahead to building his own team. Chris talks about working with multiple coaches while scaling up teams in Malawi and Zambia and how those experiences inspired him to start CoffeeChat.
Highlights in this episode:
- Chris talks about his motivation to work abroad and how he became a Country Director at a for-profit social enterprise in Malawi, One Acre Fund.
- An interest in economic development while in college led Chris to Ghana and an early career move into the international development space.
- Learn about the unique perspective Chris has as a founder working in a foreign country.
- Chris talks candidly about mistakes he made in business and how the reasons for those mistakes are blurred between being young and naive and being in a foreign culture.
- Leadership coaching had a profound effect on Chris. He and Akua talked about the benefits and the objections that some have to coaching.
- Coaching is not a punishment. Akua points out the importance of investing in coaching for good employees rather than those who aren’t performing well.
- Discover how Chris cultivated self-awareness, realizing which type of leadership role would be the best for him
- Chris explains the business he founded, CoffeeChat, a marketplace for coaching, and how it allows for exploring the different types of coaching.
- His goal is to help companies who know the value of coaching invest in a more efficient way that empowers managers to find the coach/coaching that works best for them.
Connect with Chris Suzdak:
LinkedIn: @akua Nyame-Mensah
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Work with Akua one-on-one: www.akuanm.com/work
Hire Akua to speak at your organization: www.akuanm.com/speaking