Life is good, Emeka thought to himself as he raced through traffic in his sleek Mercedes. He was a tall man with a long straight nose that tapered to a fine point, his eyes were a muddy brown, and his facial features were angular; giving him the profile of a high end fashion model.
My wife is pregnant with our third child, I finally got the promotion to President that I have been waiting for since I joined Constellation Industries over ten years ago, and to top it all off I am moving to Lekki in the next few weeks; what more could a man ask for? These were the thoughts that floated through his mind as he pulled up to his office building.
It was a magnificent edifice to the will power of a single man, Mr. Vincent, the chairman of Constellation Industries had worked his whole life to build this company from the ground up and protected his investment jealously. Constellation industries had holdings across Africa which spanned diversified industries ranging from agriculture and petroleum in Nigeria, manufacturing in Ghana, mining in the Congo and a telecommunications giant that spanned over thirty other countries.
Emeka was starting his first day as president of this company and he was only 37, it was enough to fill even the humblest man with a sense of pride and accomplishment. As he stepped over the threshold of the giant double doors and strode to the elevator, people that did not know him before stood to attention as he made his way across reception. The elevator was empty and he happily pressed the button to the 30th floor, the home of his new office.
As the elevator stopped and he stepped over the threshold, his secretary welcomed him with a congratulatory statement.
“Good morning Mr. Jones and welcome to the top, Mr. Vincent is waiting for you in his office.”
“Thank you Janet, let’s make this experience spectacular.”
“I’ll do my best sir.”
Emeka walked over to where Mr. Vincent’s office was positioned and knocked timidly.
“Come in.” A voice like liquid gold called out.
“Good morning Mr. Chairman.” Emeka called promptly as he slipped through the doorway.
Mr. Vincent was an older man that was still in great shape and was somehow able to maintain an aura of youthfulness. His close cropped hair was slowly turning from grey to white and his beard looked as if a tuft of snow had been placed on his face. His physique was trim and his tailored charcoal suit only added to the aura of power he exuded. His steel grey eyes had the ability to cow the most obstinate individuals when he decided to unleash their full fury. That notwithstanding, he was an amicable man that had been able to inculcate an optimistic attitude about life even though his had been one filled with challenges. To top all this off he was naturally handsome and charming.
“Emeka, no need for such formalities anymore, you are on a different playing field now and may call me Dante.”
“Now, I have placed a lot of faith in you by appointing you to this position, I hope you are going to deliver because the board would never let me hear the end of it if you don’t.”
“Do not worry, I will do my best and my performance will speak for itself.”
“Very good, I need you to hit the ground running, so assemble your team and get caught up on where all the companies stand in relation to each other, our long term growth strategy, and our different marketing drives; we have a meeting with the board by twelve and I expect you to be able to give tit for tat.”
“You’re not in Kansas anymore are you?” Mr. Vincent said laughing as he dismissed Emeka with a wave of his hand.
Emeka quickly retreated and went to settle down in his office. As he entered his new base of operations, the first thing he noticed was the view. As he stared through the floor to ceiling windows, the sight of the majestic Atlantic Ocean with luxury yachts making their leisurely way across the lagoon greeted him. Massive Frigates that kept the country alive with precious supplies were waiting in line to be cleared at Tin Can Island and some of the braver canoe drivers from the Makoko slums braved the open seas for a more bountiful catch.
He peeled his eyes away from the view so that he could settle down to work in his brand new position as President; there was no way he was going to embarrass himself in front of the board on his first day. Emeka used the phone next to him to let Janet know that he wanted to see the heads of all the divisions in his office in twenty minutes for an impromptu meeting.
When all the people he needed were assembled, Emeka began with a short speech to set the tone for his tenure as president.
“Today begins a new era in Constellation Industries, we will no longer settle for second best in any sphere that we exert time, resources, and energy. In order to make the dreams of Mr. Vincent a reality, every one of us, including myself, will have to constantly push ourselves harder and further than we ever have until we become a peerless company. If you are not ready to put in the work that will take this company into the stratosphere then you may leave now and no one will think less of you.”
He strode over to the closed door of his office and flung it open while looking at each of the dozen or so people assembled directly in the eye. When no one took up his challenge, he nodded and continued his soliloquy.
“I am happy that we are all on the same page, now, let’s get down to the business of the day. We need to develop a comprehensive strategy that will carry this company from an average conglomerate to a peerless entity over the next ten years. Chika, as the executive Vice President of Marketing, you will open the floor and let us know where we stand.”
“Thank you sir.” She said as she easily stepped into her element.
The meeting lasted right up until the time allotted for his presentation to the board and Emeka was equipped with a sound understanding of the way the company was working as a whole and as separate business entities.
The young ambitious man found himself outside the expansive chamber that served as the meeting room for the directors of the company. Twenty four men and women that were leaders in their respective fields and society as a whole had gathered together. He took a final deep breath and stepped through the doorway with trepidation, this meeting would set the tone of his Presidency for a while to come.
Dante Vincent II, Walter Vincent, and Naomi Vincent were the principal members of the board, children of the Chairman; they took an active role in the daily affairs of the company, and knew Constellation Industries like the backs of their hands. If he needed anyone to accept him in his position as president, it was them, but they had a reputation for being hard asses.
He slowly made his way to the chair that had been left empty for him at the massive mahogany table and could feel the eyes of everyone in the room on him. As soon as he took his seat, Mr. Vincent said a short prayer and called the meeting to order.
The powerful trio wasted no time in testing his business acumen as they launched a salvo of questions at him.
“Welcome Emeka, what do you plan to do as President of this organization?” Dante started.
“I plan to increase its reach on the African Continent as well as globally.”
“How?” Naomi interjected almost before he had finished.
“I will play to our comparative strengths, we have some companies in our organization that are underperforming so instead of being mediocre in two hundred different endeavors I envision us being the first or second in only twenty different industries. That way we can concentrate our forces and use the massive human capital of Africa to our advantage.”
“Which endeavors are you planning on championing?” Walter asked coolly.
“I am glad you asked,” Emeka replied, finally warming up to the assault. “I, of course, will strengthen the agricultural industries which is the bedrock upon which this organization was built. The African countries that we do business in all have burgeoning populations and mouths to feed. Aside from that, I hope to concentrate on our alternative energy, manufacturing, construction, mining, and our telecommunications businesses to name a few.”
“Why alternative energy? Why not petroleum and coal, they have a proven track record for steady revenue.” Walter asked skeptically.
“Yes, steady revenue, but we are looking to take this company to the next level and we can only do that by being a disruptor in our field. In addition to that, petroleum and coal are nonrenewable resources and I want to establish income streams that our children’s children will be able to benefit from. We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new technology springing up every day. It would be a shame to crumble like other empires because we were afraid to change with the times. Under my leadership this company will become leaner, meaner, and more able to adapt to changes in the global marketplace.”
“Well” said Emeka, “it seems my father chose well, I just hope you can deliver on your many promises.” Dante said cheerfully.
With that, the tension in the room was broken and Emeka spent the rest of the meeting outlining his plans for the members of the board and bringing them up to speed about the necessary sacrifices that would need to be made.
As the meeting ended, the Chairman called him to the side and spoke two words that hardly ever escaped his mouth before leaving the office for the day.
Emeka retreated to his spacious office and watched the sun sink into the Atlantic, turning the clear blue ocean into an ochre bruise.“This is the beginning of the rise, I will build an empire that the world will be forced to acknowledge.” He mumbles to himself.