The local office, from left: Lokoli Celestin (agency coordinator), Cisse Brahima (shipping agent), Traore Seydou (operations manager) and Alia Rodrigue (general manager).

The local office, from left: Lokoli Celestin (agency coordinator), Cisse Brahima (shipping agent), Traore Seydou (operations manager) and Alia Rodrigue (general manager).

 

Strengthening West African prescence with office in Ivory Coast’s biggest city.

ABIDJAN: The new WSS office in the Ivory Coast is turning heads with its commitment to doing business in a transparent way. General manager Alia Rodrigue has quickly assembled a local team of four and is working hard to build the Wilhelmsen brand in a new strategic market.

Following the successful establishment of a Senegal office in 2013, the new operation in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s economic capital, is the second phase in a strategy to develop a presence in West Africa. Aside from a successful trial in Algeria, WSS had no previous footprint on the northwestern coast of Africa.

A recent business review deemed the Senegal office a success, which gave the company confidence that an operation in a bigger African port was viable. Many local challenges had to be overcome before the Ivory Coast office could open, so the team chose to face them head-on with an open, honest approach.

“We faced local lobbying and a difficult process to obtain a business license,” says Eric Gergaud, business development manager for North and West Africa.

“During preparations for our licence review meeting, I submitted our business standards, code of conduct and anticorruption documentation even though they weren’t required. This captured the attention from high-level Government actors and we received positive feedback on our forwardthinking approach. Working as a liaison between Africa and Scandinavia has been a challenging but rewarding experience.”