Michele Nemesi, IBAG Personality for December 2019

From very humble beginnings as a young vintner in the heart of the Alps to the Managing Director of AYA Engineering, Michele Nemesi is the definition of perseverance. For the past ten years, Michele has steered the affairs of AYA Engineering which is a subsidiary of TEAM Group; an Italian based engineering firm with footprints in Africa. In Ghana, AYA operates exclusively in the railway sector providing consultancy at all levels; from master plan and feasibility studies, to preliminary and final design all the way to construction supervision.

Michele grew up in Valtellina, a bucolic province so remote that most Italians don’t know where it is on the map. As a teen, Michele spent time working alongside his father on apple orchards and vineyards. He believes this experience contributed immensely to his character development of becoming who he is today. It introduced him from an early age to the concept of being responsible and target driven (or in his case, harvest driven). As his grandpa would say ‘working in a farm quickly shows you how low the ground is’. These experiences, he says imbibed in him a sense of resilience and the lessons he learned during that phase of his life would continue to stay with him for the rest of his life.

Michele in the 1980’s

In the late 1980’s, Michele moved to Milan for his university education. This was where he had a realization that his understanding of life was protected and filtered by a narrative devoid of a multi-ethnic exposure. He had to quickly adapt to a new set of social norms, as he began to explore his limits, understand his aspirations and better define his life journey. From the valleys of Valtellina where everything was simple to the fascinating big city, he had a burning curiosity to know more about the world around him. He resorted to reading to provide all the answers. The three books which defined his life transitions and which shaped his intellect to become the man he is today included; Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse) which he read during his teens, The Sheltering Sky (Paul Bowels) during the ‘90s and Africa – Biography of a Continent (John Reader), the latter which can still be found on his nightstand and which marked the beginning of his appetite for the African experience. He remains ever grateful to his parents for nurturing his curiosity and encouraging his drive, even though sometimes they didn’t really understand where his destination could be. But being the first of four siblings, they knew he had to be the pacesetter in making the difference.

Michele’s Business & Work Journey

Michele had always wanted to work in Africa. His African country of choice originally was Ivory Coast. As someone who speaks French, it made sense to him to work in a Francophone country. He learnt English later on. In 2004, he met an Italian intrapreneur based in Ivory Coast who offered him a fascinating proposal. He accepted and moved to Ghana to start-up a venture in 2005. In 2009, they went their separate ways but this experience inoculated his Ghanaian business mindset and readied him to take charge of AYA. Back then, the company was just an idea. Being an engineer, the concept of creating an engineering consultancy firm to operate in the railway sector in Ghana excited and challenged him. This was how, the subsidiary company of TEAM group (AYA Engineering) was born and this is when Ghana became his second home. Working in the national railway business meant being acquaintances with the decision makers of Ghana. Designing and building railway still has a sort of ‘pioneering flavour he says, and he is proud of his company’s modest involvement is contributing to Ghana’s development.

Inside scoops of Michele’s Personality

In his own words, Michele is spontaneous, impulsive and sometimes really struggles to bite his tongue, regardless of who his interlocutor is. Whenever he has the urge to ‘say it all’, he remembers his good friend who once advised him to think twice, especially in states of anger. This advice, as simple as it sounds, has made a big difference in Michele’s interactions. The avoided consequences of thinking twice before speaking has cemented this saying as one of his life mantras. Michele is an energetic and pragmatic personality who yearns for idealism. By nature, Michele tends not to worry in advance. When the chips fall, he knows he can fall on his resilient reserve to carry him through. If not at work, you can find Michele on the tennis court, or on an adventure somewhere; he loves scuba diving and photography. Even though he still loves to read, he is unable to read like he used to due to his limited leisure hours.

Michele is married to a beautiful Ghanaian Lawyer. He fathers his wife’s four children; 3 boys (Nortey, Nortei and Okwey) who are enrolled in a university in the United State and one girl (Narki) who still schools in Ghana, and plans to follow her siblings’ path in the US in a few years.

At 49years old, Michele shares some life lessons: “everyone should invest (time, energy, money) only in doing what one is really able to do. Secondly, too often in our business environment, we forget how dramatic consequences can be when we behave with arrogance without really knowing what we are doing, but still thinking that we are the repository of knowledge. Knowledge and mindfulness are the keys, no matter who you are or what you do”.

IBAG

Michele joined the Association not because he felt obliged by virtue of his Italian lineage but because he believed in the people who have been leading the charge from day one to be of reputable character and poised for action. He aspires for the Association to evolve in such a way that it’s members have an international visibility and exposure, which are benefits that also come with being a chamber of commerce, while supporting with local regulatory authorities. He encourages everyone to join because “togetherness is strength”.

On behalf of the Italian Business Association of Ghana (IBAG), we wish Michele a happy birthday in advance as he marks half a century old in April 2020.  

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