01 Apr 2020 / Article

"Keep the meetings short"

After more than twenty years at Citibank where she managed the Ivorian subsidiary among others the Senegalese Khady Dior Ndiaye joined the American oil group Kosmos Energy in 2019 (1.5 billion dollars in revenues in 2019). Recently appointed head of West Africa for Kosmos (Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire), she confides in her daily life as CEO.  


The organization: priority to a non-stop working day


I’m a morning person. I start my days very early, and when I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll. I rarely interrupt at mid-day, except when I have a business lunch. It’s a habit I picked up during my studies in the United States, where that break is very short. So I work at a steady pace during the day. This allows me to do a lot of things.


Between 12 and 2 p.m., when the others are having lunch, I devote myself to small tasks that I didn’t have time to do before. It’s quieter then. For example, I take the opportunity to call back people who have tried to reach me. This way I can finish the day earlier and then go to the gym and spend time with my family.  


As regional director, I work between two countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. I try to keep my trips short and make the most of them by chaining meetings on the spot. It’s something I’m used to because in my previous job at Citibank, I covered 14 countries.


The key: note-taking not to lose track of things


I take particular care in the preparation of my trips. Specifically, I make sure that the appointments are well-timed and I check until the very last moment that they indeed will take place. The meeting schedule is communicated well in advance so that everyone knows exactly what, when and how. Finally, at the beginning of each meeting, I go over the points we agreed on at the previous meeting. That’s how the meetings are kept short and efficient. This whole organization makes my travels fruitful.


One of the characteristics of my methodology is note-taking. I’m very fond of it even if someone in the meeting is in charge of reporting. Those who have had to work with me have always seen me with a notebook in my hands. Of course, I only write down what is important. It’s also a habit I picked up about 20 years ago. It allows me to keep the essentials in mind and come back to them at the end of meetings.


Her management profile: very participative 

My type of management is participative. When you hold positions in several countries, the contribution of employees takes on its full dimension. As you can’t be everywhere, they enable me to understand the dynamics surrounding our work. The details are really in the hands of the people who are there.


Before making a decision, I always listen to the employees involved. That allows me to assess the situation in the best possible way. And it’s very motivating for all the teams to participate in the decision-making process.


Sharing private/work life: knowing when to disconnect


The office I work with is in Dallas, USA, with which there is a six-hour time difference. And when, in the two cities where I live, Dakar and Abidjan, my day ends, in Dallas it all begins! So you get the feeling that it never stops, that working time is not controlled. Quite the opposite of the bank where there are opening and closing hours. Once I’ve finished my day, spent time with my family and been able to do sports, there’s still a moment when I make sure that at the Dallas headquarters there’s no emergency, that nobody needs me.


So my phone remains open in case there is an emergency to deal with. Even if I grant myself the right to disconnect, I must remain reachable, at least by phone. Afterwards, you also have to know when to say stop. Otherwise, there is a real risk of working in a loop.  


The identified evolution: no longer managing alone the timetable


I would like to delegate the management of my schedule to my assistant! Maybe that would be better because I am inclined to manage a lot of things myself with the feeling that I can do everything, that I have the time. But you can quickly get overheated! If someone else managed it for me, I might be able to free up more time. Then, once again, I got into this habit a long time ago at Citibank. But this one I should maybe get rid of…

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