Have you ever wondered what it would be like to manage work in two different countries? Colin Mason, Country Manager for GSS Kenya and GSS South Sudan, does just that every single day. Joining the GSS team in July 2011, Colin, a UK national, was first assigned as Country Manager for GSS Ghana, before moving to his new position in October 2014.
The Corporate Communications team recently sat down with him when he visited BMMI’s Bahrain headquarters, to find out more about what his typical working day is like and how his experience with GSS has been so far!
Colin’s day usually starts at around 7am, feeling lucky because he recently moved closer to where he works. It had previously taken him 1.5 hours to commute, rather than the 5 minutes’ drive he needs to take now to reach the office.
For around an hour, Colin catches up with overnight emails and follows up on the progress from South Sudan, reviewing and responding to the information and reports coming in from our business in Juba. Colin then spends a few hours with networking, business development and looking for new opportunities, which entails reading newspapers, making phone calls, doing research and sending out emails.
By 10am, he’s on the move, gearing up to visit one of the sites where GSS has contracts. “At this point, I could be in the car for a 10 minutes’ drive or a two hours’ drive – depending on the traffic!” said Colin. But even traffic jams can be productive. “Once, I even had to have a two hour Skype conference from the car because I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the office on time, so I had my online conference right there,” he stated.
Colin’s commuting isn’t limited to local trips, however. Every month, Colin makes at least one weeklong trip to Juba, to touch-base with our business there, meet with clients and engage with the team.
Late afternoon and evening:
By around 5pm, Colin tries to hit the road to get an hour in the gym; but work doesn’t end there. After his workout, he’s back to checking emails, making sure he responds to any important ones. With the Vice President of our African operations working out of Gabon, Colin sometimes need to touch base with him later in the evening, keeping in mind the two hour time difference.
He finally clocks out between 9pm to 10pm, officially ending his workday. “Some days are quite long, but no two days are ever the same!” said Colin. “It is both exciting and challenging; in the operational side of the world, you talk to most people and they might crave for a quiet day, but if that quiet day does come along, we’ll be looking for things to do! I’ve been working in the catering and servicing industry since I was 16, and it always keeps you on your toes. You are always looking for ways to improve yourself and your work,” he added.
Colin has had the opportunity to travel around Kenya, for both business and the occasional bit of leisure. “It’s really nice to get to visit the national parks; there is some pretty impressive wildlife out there!”
Colin also takes fitness very seriously, and that takes up a lot of his free time. Every year, Colin participates in the Annual Big Battlefield Bike Ride, an initiative that raises money towards the Help for Heroes fund, a UK based charity providing support, facilities and opportunities to injured service personnel. This year, he will be joining hundreds of other riders as they ride the Western front of the First World War’s route. “Whenever I have the time I do a lot of cycling and spinning training to prepare myself for the event. I have also set new challenges for myself this year, where I want to do at least half of an Iron Man triathlon. During the charity bike ride, I’ll be riding between 50 to 70 miles each day – and on the shorter days I’ll be doing three half marathons as well.”
Colin is also looking forward to a chance to climb Mount Kenya, which he might finally be doing this year!
Experience in Africa:
Colin hadn’t originally thought of working in Africa, but when the opportunity came along to work with GSS in Ghana, he thought he would give it a try – and he is glad he did. “I haven’t looked back ever since- it’s a nice environment and the weather is good, and in Kenya, the people are truly friendly and when you get the time, social life is good as well. I have absolutely no regrets and I love Africa; it’s probably the best continent I have lived and worked in!” said Colin.