Essete Gebriel – The Success Breeder

Esete Gabriel, married and a mother of two boys, was raised with love and care by her grandmother. She went to Bethelhem elementary school for her primary education and to Yekatit 12, the former Etege Menen High school and completed 12th grade. She later joined the Addis Ababa Commercial College and got her diploma. She immediately got a job and joined DHL as Customer Service Agent. While working, she continued her education at the Addis Ababa University in the extension program and finished her first degree in seven years. After three years of working at DHL, she became the first Sales Executive and later on became Commercial Manager. Essete resigned from DHL and formed her own company TNT service in Addis Ababa.


Her DHL experience helped her manage her business as it was similar to what she was doing for almost 10 years. After working with TNT for 1 year only, they signed an exclusive agency agreement, which was a motivation for her to even grow. It went stronger and stronger for the next 4 years and finally she had to sell it with profit. She says working in a small company is more challenging as you have to fill in for every duty to make sure it is functional and at all times at pace. Later she joined her former company DHL that she is very much attached to as she has developed her career from a young age. She became the Country Manager for DHL Express in Ethiopia.

After her diploma studies, she joined DHL fresh from college.  Her need to develop did not stop there.  She joined DHL to work as Customer Service Agent.  The urge to develop herself could not stop there.  She joined the Addis Ababa University to do her bachelor Degree which she completed after studying for seven years in the extension program.  Through her effort in self-improvement, after working for three years, she became the first Sales Executive at DHL Express in Ethiopia.  As there was no department for the specific position, she was given  a challenge to establish the department that really helped her to be empowered.  She reached to the level of Commercial Manager before she decided to leave to form her own intra city courier service.  Before her departure she made sure that there was someone to take over her position, as she was the one who had structured the department and was on a very good position.

The Intra City Delivery service in Addis Ababa area was what she has established after leaving DHL.  It was a similar kind of job but focused on domestic service.  It was challenging as people during that time were not open to receiving or sending goods or documents via courier service within Addis, rather it was done through drivers or self-service.  Her DHL experience really helped her manage her business as it was similar to what she was doing for almost 10 years.  She started from the scratch and hence was at times challenging as she had to work as the accountant, the sales person, the lawyer and everything of the company for she was deeply involved in the basic responsibilities of the company’s operation as well.

After working in her company, the company signed an exclusive agency agreement with international express company, which was a motivation for her to even grow.  It went stronger and stronger for the next four years and finally she had to sell the company with profit.  She says that working in a small company is more challenging as you have to fill in for every duty to make sure it is functional and at all times at pace.

Later she joined her former company DHL that she is very much attached to as she has developed her career from a young age.  She became the Country Manager for DHL Express in Ethiopia. DHL’s value for Africa by Africans was truly depicted when they picked her up to fit the position specially to replace an expat country manager.  This is due to the value held by DHL to promote African leaders in the continent, and we are proving that we can do it.
She says, “I never thought I would be involved in business as my inclination was towards engineering.”

She differed from her passion in engineering as she was assigned to study at Commercial College, but had to accept it with grace as she had a hidden passion to sometimes sell advert spaces on newspaper around Piassa.  She said, ‘’It was in me but never realized it.”
Business has helped her to see that she could make a difference in others’ lives and even if challenging.  She wishes to see a country without poverty, street beggers and would love to see Ethiopian products reaching the world to change the face of Ethiopia.  Small and medium enterprises are with marvelous ideas but have challenges to make it a reality.   She says, “In my capacity, I wish to assist them through my office.  DHL through her initiative organized the first SME workshop in 2013 with the objective of identifying their vision, challenges and establishing relationships.

Through the workshop professionals assisted the SME owners how they can benefit by establishing a relationship with 220 countries of DHL outlet.  These become an African initiative and later grew to a Global initiative.  Now the program is going in developing the training type and its focus and a team from Britain came to discuss this in depth.  Their presence is definitely an achievement as it is going to lead to making a difference in the country.  SME owners choose to work with DHL as they have a better access to the world and DHL in return promotes their products at a global level by giving them an extra assistance in reaching the world without worrying.

Whatever Essete does, it is consummated with success and growth. Nearly in two years’ time, DHL grew up with 100% achievement of its targets but she said, ‘I attribute most of my achievements to the excellent team work spirit I created.’

She recalls how she struggled when she first formed her own intra city delivery business.  All her savings went into capital investment and no finance for operational cost.  She had to hold a meeting to inform her staff members about her situation and told them that their salary would be paid after operation and she motivated and energized them candidly.  Her fresh ambition, energy and passion really got into them and trust was established between her and her employees.

After she joined DHL, there were times when the country’s office surpassed the target set and she could not sometimes fathom how that was possible.  Transparency helped her in working with people.  She is a people person and she shows that in different ways of her management skills.  Essete said, “I love working with women especially in management positions.  Out of seven, five are women and they make a good team.   People are the most important factors for any business’ success. The job can be done in any way but people are the most important assets to manage well.  A balanced life should be created in being productive as well as developing people.”  Working beyond working hours is not what she supports but she finds herself being consumed at her work and work late sometimes.

Essete said, “Women, if given opportunity, are capable of doing anything and that is why she says she is blessed with a good team that brings success to all her efforts.  Sometimes people fear that a women may not be reliable as she will leave to have a baby but for her it is the reverse.”  She encourages women to have babies, as that experience develops them for their own personal improvement and development.

Essete has two boys and she believes that her boys need to learn the tasks of women as it is the task that shapes women to deal with different things at one time.  She exposes her boys to play with boys as well as girls toys.

When asked what message she would like to put across to her readers, she said,
“This is a time of opportunities and personally I feel like I have a deadline each day to accomplish more each day so that we do not miss another opportunity of making a difference.  This shall be completed through team work in order to be completed on time and with quality.  This generation is the basis for the future plan so the base shall be established now.”

Essete believes in self-development in order to transcend to a higher position.  Perfection and ontime delivery and push till the end are highly crucial to her than working long hours.  Early in and on time out is her principle.  She doesn’t follow up but expects them to deliver in due course.

In her community involvement, three years ago she volunteered to assist an association who work on HIV positive members.  She managed to give them a motivational training session so that they develop positive attitude.  She said, ‘’It was with a full heart that I joined them but not expecting the outcome.’’ After a while, she managed to witness their lives changed.

Essete’s role model is her grandmother.  She said, “With the grace of God, she is the reason I made it to this level.” In her family life, when Essete is at home with her kids, she made sure that she was fully focused to give her family full attention and would not bring office work home.  Weekend is fully dedicated to her family and she said that she would make sure that she would fill gaps created due to her absence in working hours.

Ten years ago, she used to say that she would retire at age 40 and fully devote herself to the community. However, now as she is in her mid 30s and she doesn’t see her retirement coming anytime soon, she postponed her voluntary retirement age.

She is a true believer that she is a change agent not just at the community level, but the country at large scale, as she is now working on investment of DHL at the hub of Africa – Ethiopia.
In terms of her husband’s involvement in her life, she said, “I am a wife to my husband and a mother to my kids, no mixing of family with professional life. I keep them separate.’

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