From intern to employee

Dimitri Gazagnaire

"The thing that I like the most is that I work on so many projects that I feel like every day is a new meeting – a new objective."

  • About Dimitri

    Position: Area Sales Manager (Central/Western Africa), MAKEEN Energy France (South)
    Education: Master’s degree in International Trade
    Intern/trainee: 2012 (intern) & 2015 (trainee)
    Employee: 2017

How did you end up as an intern at MAKEEN Energy? What did you do before?

I was studying a Master’s in International Trade. During the third year I had to do an internship, and I contacted the manager at MAKEEN Energy France and asked if I could do an internship there. I was lucky and got seven months - three months in Aarhus/Denmark, then two in Qatar and an additional two months in Egypt in an Egyptian agent’s office.

My internship was a very good experience. And after I finished my studies, I knew about a French trainee scheme called VIE, where the French government helps paying for young graduates to go abroad with a company. I chose to apply for that scheme with the intention of going abroad working for MAKEEN Energy. I had never been to Africa, so I actually asked the manager if there was a possibility to go to Africa – and there was!

What was your first experience with MAKEEN Energy like?

My very first experience was in Aarhus, Denmark. I was part of the marketing and communications department, and so I got to know the company from the inside. I then left for Qatar, and my mission there was to work as a kind of project manager for our agent in the country. I got the opportunity to know the market in Qatar and, more generally, in the Middle East. Then I spent the last part of my internship in Egypt, where I was also working as a project manager, handling all projects in Egypt for MAKEEN Energy at that time.

I really liked to see and learn how business is done in different cultures. I got a lot of responsibility pretty fast – and most in Egypt. There I had to navigate around many problems, and I felt lucky to have the confidence from the Egyptian management.

Can you describe your journey to where you are now?

After my first internship I got the trainee position and signed a 12-month contract to go to Cameroun working for MAKEEN Energy France. After these 12 months, I renewed the contract for an additional 12 months in Cameroun. In Cameroun I spent half of my time in charge of developing activities in our cylinder filling business in Nigeria, Cameroun, and Ghana – and half of my time I was the Sales and Distribution Manager for the local company that we have there called Glocalgaz.

After these two years I was hired full-time locally in France with the same responsibilities. After 6 months there I got a total of, I think, 13 countries in Western and Central Africa as responsibilities. I became a Manager in the summer of 2018. Since then, my geographical area has become even bigger – and today I get to manage other people as well.

What have you learned in your time with MAKEEN Energy so far?

I guess what I’ve learned the most is adaptation. From one country to another the culture can be so different - and you always need to understand and act according to the culture that you’re working in. To be flexible, to adapt myself to the situation and to the different cultures. For example, there’s very different cultures in Cameroun and Nigeria. They share a border, but they are more different than Europe!

It was a challenge to learn to adapt to local cultures. In Cameroun, I chose to live with local people and not with the French, despite there being a lot of French people. Living with local people made the situation easier. It took me a couple of months, but then I was used to the culture.

What is the best thing about your job – and the most challenging?

The thing that I like the most is that I work on so many projects that I feel like every day is a new meeting – a new objective. Today I think I handle 23 countries, so I have around 200 customers, and every day there’s a new project, a new objective, and I need to start from scratch. I need to help all the customers and find solutions for them, and this is very interesting to me. I need to adapt myself again and again.

The most challenging thing for me…is to be patient. In my nature I am not patient, so it has been necessary for me to learn to be that. Some projects in some countries have a lot of challenges that we need to overcome. It can take quite a long time to happen. I try to learn to be patient – to adapt to the situation – because I always need to find the right balance between pushing too much and being too patient.

What would you say to someone considering applying for an internship with MAKEEN Energy?

I’d say welcome to the company! Haha. Nonono, but, I mean, it’s very nice – the good thing is that we have offices all around the world. You can discover the world. You can meet new cultures and have colleagues from all around the world. It’s very interesting!

In France, this trainee programme VIE that I did is a good way for us to assess people. A part of the salary is paid by the French government, and the employment typically lasts from 6 months to 24 months. The goal is of course to hire, and we have a high success rate here at MAKEEN Energy France – 2 out of 3 trainees so far have been hired. So, if you have the option, consider applying through this programme!