“We live in a time of tremendous change,” says Dr. Arega Yirdaw, CEO of MIDROC Technology Group and CCL Distinguished Alumni Award winner. “The world is getting smaller. It is clear you cannot stay within your own boundaries anymore.”
With these words, the Ethiopian-born leader sets forth his vision of leadership. “Leaders need the vision to cross boundaries — to step out of their own comfort zones and to help their employees to do the same,” Dr. Arega explains. “We always need to be learning, to be listening to others, to take on any assignment, to pursue any market.”
Dr. Arega has lived his vision, eagerly taking on challenges and bridging barriers as he schooled, lived and worked in Ethiopia, the UK and the U.S. He began his career with the famed Ethiopian Airlines in 1970. Later, while raising a family in the U.S., the engineer took on management roles, including one that brought him to a leadership development program at CCL in 1998.
Ten years ago, Dr. Arega returned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “It was time to give back to the country that paid for my education,” he says. “I knew I could do this through leadership.” As CEO of MIDROC Technology Group, Dr. Arega oversees 17 companies (including Unity University and MIDROC Gold Mine) and more than 6,000 employees.
At MIDROC, Dr. Arega has established a culture of learning, from top management to the janitorial staff. He encourages formal training and education, as well as learning from experience and interaction with others. Under his leadership, the company has grown into one of Ethiopia’s most respected corporations.
Dr. Arega’s bond with CCL remains strong. He has encouraged CCL’s expansion into Africa, eager to adapt lessons of leadership to his home country and throughout the continent. As president of Unity University, he partnered with CCL in 2010 to open its first African office in Addis Ababa. In January 2011, CCL presented Dr. Arega with its 12th annual Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of the leadership that Dr. Arega has shown to his employees and fellow citizens.
“The human brain has a lot to give,” asserts Dr. Arega. “It can be constrained by many boundaries: history, economy, politics, religion, culture. We also create our own boundaries. To improve our businesses, our countries and our world, people should be free to communicate, exchange ideas, learn and to act beyond our boundaries.”