The CEO said when he took over the management of Sierra Rutile in 2009, the world was in economic turmoil and melt down, which, he said, had a negative effect on the company. “I was brought in when it was really tough and the board was looking up to me to make a turn around,” he said
He said in running a business nothing is guaranteed apart from your individual effort. Mr Sisay said because he took over at a time that was very challenging, it gave them the advantage to prepare themselves for other challenges in the future,
‘When the market became stable in 2011/12 commodity price went up, we decided that it was an opportunity to strengthen the company and not ourselves. So we decided to use the money that came from the upside, we did not give it to shareholders, but we re-invested it back into the company. We did that because of our internal analysis, which was good for the company,” The Sierra Rutile CEO said.
The CEO said every week he receives report from all departmental heads which he study so that he will be well aufait before meeting with all the senior managers on Fridays. He averred that they prepared a short term and long term analysis and also several scenario analysis which they worked with. “With these plans, I run the company not with optimism on price assumption but with the most prudent pricing assumptions. What we did was to fix the price for our products and the lowest so that when price drops we will be able withstand the shock.” Said he.
Mr, Sisay went on to state that in 2013, when the price in the world market dropped, it was at the lowest pricing they had set, which made them to continue their business without any hiccups. He said even when commodity price keeps falling they were able to hang in there with no redundancy, as they continue business as usual.
He stressed that London Mining and African Minerals were affected by direct commodity pricing and not Ebola. “These companies were working on the optimism of the prices in the market day to day instead of drawing up a plan for the foreseeable future. They were working with the Chinese market so when that market was faced with challenges, they had no counter plan, but to go burst,” Mr. Sesay explained.
The CEO also stressed that Sierra Rutile success was again based on the fact that almost all the management staff are locals as they have nowhere to go if the company fails. “So they must do all in their power to keep the company afloat at all times,” he said.
John Sisay said when the prices continue to fall, he guaranteed his board and management that the plan they have in place will keep them going as all the other companies he said will fall before they will be affected. “Of course, it happened and we are still standing tall as we continue to flourish even when the prices are down.”
The Sierra Rutile CEO said due to so many challenges going around the world, it is difficult to predict when the prices of Iron Ore will increase, he said the North American market is getting up slowly, the Middle East is plunging deeper into conflict whilst China’s growth is slowing down. “All these are signs that the prices for Iron Ore will not increase anytime soon,” he maintained.
On the question of rebuilding the country in post-Ebola era, John Sisay said he would deliver a speech on that but rather prefer it to be interactive as according to him, they are debaters, researchers with valuable ideas that can be discussed together for implementation.
After lengthy discussion it was agreed that there should be a common vision, people must be real and sincere and thirdly the gap that has been created must be closed. On the common vision everybody agreed that better educational system, social uplifting, national pride with decent living wage, creating of middle class, decentralization, building of strong institutions, localization of skills and equal rights for all must be addressed to change the cause of the country.
“I want to make this very clear to all that the country lacks infrastructure for education and the content in the education sector must be upgraded if we will have to compete with others and create more jobs for Sierra Leoneans,” he affirmed.
Mr. Sesay therefore called on all the students to be positive and sincere because according to him, where they are at the moment will contribute to the development of the country. He said most of the leaders around came from FBC, adding that that trend will continue but if the required change are not implemented, then the country is doomed.