By David A. Yates and Robin Dopoe
Wadei Powell, former vice president for administration and human resource at Cellcom GSM (now Orange GSM), has become the first female to be appointed chief executive officer of an oil and gas company in Liberia. Powell, who has over 19 years of professional experience, including her time as General Service Manager at Firestone Liberia, now takes over from Musa Bility as CEO of Srimex Enterprise, one of the leading importers of petroleum products in the country.
Bility, the founder and owner of Srimex, will move on to serve as the company’s chairman and special advisor to the management. He said the decision to step down from the position was tough, but necessary for the growth of Srimex.
“My decision has been two years in the making and after reviewing lots of potential clients; Ms. Powell emerged as the best with the experience, credibility, trust, and ability to expand the company’s growth.
“I have no doubt that she will do better because she is here to change things and the best person to expand the business and improve the relationship with clients, both locally and overseas,” Bility said. “I don’t think I have more to offer the company as we speak right now, so the best thing to do is turn the mantle of authority to someone new.”
The changing of the guard at Srimex Enterprise comes at the time when the company and its founder have been pursued by the Government of Liberia over claims of failure to pay overdue tax in the tune of US$190,800, dating as far back as May 2010. In October 2017, the Tax Court threatened the company with closure for failure to pay the tax debt.
That may very well be the reason for Powell’s preferment to the post. With nearly two decades of experience under her belt in organizational development, human resources administration, training and development, and program/project management, she steps into the CEO seat with the arduous task of turning the company around to achieve not only tax compliance but optimum efficiency. Powell possesses a Master’s degree in Information Systems Management with an emphasis in Organizational Development and a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in Business and Technical Writing.
Bility disagreed with the public perception that he was stepping down because of conflict of interest to save his company’s image since he is an executive of the opposition Liberty Party whose complaints about irregularities and fraud have led to the current delay in the election process.
“I don’t have an identity crisis. I didn’t step down from the position because of my affiliation with LP. I remain an LP partisan and support my party’s decision at court. I have spent years in this business and my ideas are getting old. Starting Srimex and building a great team has been one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of my life. Together we set out a business that is now at the forefront in the oil and gas sector in the country,” he said.
Insiders at Srimex praise Powell for the “great vision”, she has laid out for the company. “As a former Vice President for Administration and Human Resource at Cellcom, she helped to redefine the company’s administrative strategies and spearheaded significant improvements to its organizational structure,” they said.
“As General Service Manager at Firestone Liberia, Powell enhanced the company’s relationship with the government of Liberia. She is the founder and president of the UFOUND Solutions Group, a consulting firm providing organization development services to private and public entities,” they added.
In a brief remark, Powell said she has come to help Srimex move forward by capturing the immense potential ahead by transforming its organizational and business model.
“Sound organization systems and process are the building blocks of any successful organization; therefore, I’m going to align these systems with the business objectives and goals to ensure the growth and sustainability of Srimex.
“I’m extremely pleased that Srimex chairman Musa Bility has given me this opportunity to serve. I recognize this as an opportunity to expand the company’s market share and deliver on its promise of exceptional services to its customers and better compete in the oil and gas industry,” she said.
The new Srimex CEO added that she is excited to be a part of the company’s growth and is looking forward to further redefining the way Srimex does business.