Forward Thinkers // 10.15.2010

"When the sun comes up, you better be running"

Article by Aba H

I’ve always been fascinated with people who manage to step up and take control of their destiny; people who see beyond what others see for them and with resilience reach towards making their dreams a reality. Such people realize when a spark has the potential to become a full-blown fire.  Sandra Idossou is one such person.

Sandra owns the consulting company Shei Consulting in Ghana, and Benin and Shei and Enz Consulting in Rwanda. In her four years living in Rwanda she has built a reputation for delivering excellent customer service workshops. She is also the Publisher founder of The Service Magazine, Rwanda’s first free magazine dedicated to educating those in the industry about good customer service. She is also a columnist for The New Times, a daily Rwanda newspaper and an author of “The Customer Care Handbook”. It seems like nothing can stop this woman, not even having to relocate to a new country every two years. Bénin, France, Chad, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Gabon are only some of the countries Sandra and her husband have made home.

We spoke to Sandra about how she has managed to achieve so much in her young life and how she overcomes challenges to be the very best at what she does, wherever she goes.

Customer Service

Born in Ghana, raised in Bénin, Sandra began her career in the service and hospitality industry in Ghana where she worked for Novotel, Accra. As fate would have it, she was selected to be trained in France to train staff on Sales & Marketing, Customer service and quality for the Accor group of hotels. This opened doors for her to travel to twenty-seven African countries, almost half of the continent!  After six years of this, Sandra moved to Ghana with her husband and decided to start her own consulting and training company in Accra and in neighboring Benin and Togo. After two years they relocated to Rwanda and took advantage of the high demand for customer service expertise in the country specifically in the banking sector where according to her “you could go to the bank and the cashier would look at you as if he was doing you a favour.” So she began all over again and grabbed the opportunity to open a branch of Shei consulting in Rwanda.

Waking up Running

For many of us, twenty-four hours in a day seems insufficient time to complete our to-do lists, but our Shine lady has found a way of lengthening her days. Sandra isn’t a woman to lie in bed until 9.00am wondering what to do with the hours. The morning we had our interview with her she woke up at 4.00am inspired by a quotation she had read the previous day and began excitedly pouring out her new-found thoughts in an article.  The quotation went like this: “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t’ matter if you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up you better be running.” Sandra believes that “we need to do things, we need to take charge of our destiny”, we need to find what we are passionate about and do it well.

Challenged by Sandra’s radiance and success, we couldn’t help but ask her what professional principles she has lived by. She tells us “One of the principles that has guided is to be professional in all that I do.” Being the youngest in all she did pushed her to prove to others that she deserved their trust. She explained that the way she did this was by being professional and by producing things of quality. She said she applied this even to simple things like making it to her appointments on time and keeping her word.

A Confident Woman

Along with practicing a culture of professionalism, resilience and confidence are two other qualities Sandra has developed. From a young age she watched her dynamic mother work hard and face situations that could have caused her to lose hope but instead served as platforms upon which to reach her goals. We all know the near-crippling effects that certain challenges and obstacles can have. Remember that time you shared an idea you thought was absolutely brilliant with someone expecting an applause but instead received a blank look? Sandra is familiar with such situations. She’s faced pessimism because of her young looks, because she’s a woman, and even about her living in Rwanda. But like her mother, challenges drive Sandra to work even harder and prove to naysayers that she can achieve that which she sets her mind to doing. “Every morning we have to be motivated. We have to tell ourselves we can do it” She says. With this mindset she has the confidence to walk into an office and look straight into peoples’ faces.

A Little Time to Spare

As a hobby Sandra enjoys writing articles for her magazine, the Rwandan New Times and for her training modules.  If in between her writing she has some spare time, she cooks. “I enjoy cooking especially pastries. I love hosting people at home” She says. I’ve had the opportunity to taste her cooking and can attest to the fact that her cooking isn’t in vain! If she’s not cooking you’ll find her painting and you can find her paintings exhibited around certain galleries in Kigali.

Sandra keeps her fire and passion burning by reading mostly motivational books. Her book choice for the moment is The Great Entrepreneurs in Africa by Nigerian actress Molly Moke. She  reads many business development related literature online. Sandra likes keeping fit by doing sports ( walking, swimming, tennis; aerobics). She is full of life and simply passionate about all that she does.

2 Responses to “"When the sun comes up, you better be running"”

  1. Ann Christin Ishimwe says:

    Way to go Sandra! You are an inspiration to many.
    Keep up the good work in Rwanda.

  2. I like this web blog so much, bookmarked. “To hold a pen is to be at war.” by Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire.

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