Mentorship Journey — Joseph Issa

Chairman of the Cool Group of Companies, Joseph Issa shares his entrepreneurial journey and mentoring experience with the Branson Centre…

My mentorship at the Branson Centre over the years has drawn much from my own journey into business, which started in 1995, a year after winning the award of Young Hotelier of the World.

Armed with this new inspiration, along with US$5,000 and a brand name for a gas station with features unlike any other – bold and colourful and highly service oriented and customer friendly – I took my first step towards owning a business.

The success of the Cool Oasis gas stations which followed, taught me the valuable lesson of focusing on customer service, which I employed and capitalised on in subsequent businesses, and which has also enabled the identification of new business opportunities in the service industry.

I also learnt very early the importance of staff comfort and morale and their role in the success of a business.

As I passed on these doctrines in the mentoring process, including timely expansion and diversification, I have had the pleasure of some memorable moments, one of which was working with a young entrepreneur in his chocolate business, who really wanted to succeed, and therefore, absorbed and implemented every recommended strategy. The rest, of course, is history.

In addition to the self-fulfilment obtained from the success of mentees, the biggest take away I have had as a mentor is the inspiration generated by their passion to succeed, which has rejuvinated my own will to continue to remain relevant as an entrepreneur and mentor.

With this first hand experience mentoring at the Branson Centre, I would hasten to urge others to come onboard the journey with our young entrepreneurs, one in which there is mutual respect and shared passion, which make for a lasting quality intervention.