The Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, won the “African Business Leader of the Year” award from the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) on December 12, 2012 at a gala dinner held in Washington D.C. More than 300 US and African business leaders, Ambassadors and US government officials attended the event.
CCA is the premier American organization devoted to U.S.-Africa business relations and includes, as members, more than 180 companies, which represent nearly 85 percent of the total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. It was established in 1993 and is at the forefront of strengthening and facilitating business relationships between the United States and Africa.
CCA said Tewolde was given the award for making Ethiopian the best-run airline in Africa, while at the same time turning it into a true international carrier. He was also recognized for his support of US-Africa trade as evidenced not only by the nature of Ethiopian Airlines’ business, but by being the first carrier on the continent to buy the most advanced airliner, the B787-Dreamliner.
Tewolde was honored during the award ceremony along with three other Africans, who have shown exceptional leadership in business.
“I am honored by this award. This and the recent awards Ethiopian has been receiving are recognitions of the important role our airline is playing in Africa. Ethiopian is providing the air connectivity that is critical for fostering increased investment and trade flows to the continent. This award is, first and foremost, a tribute to the competence and hard work of all Ethiopian employees. It encourages us to work even harder to achieve the objectives in our Vision 2025 and to serve our beloved continent with greater commitment and dedication,” said Tewolde.
Ethiopian is in the third year of implementation of its 15-year strategic road map Vision 2025, which will see it become the leading aviation group in Africa with seven profit centers grossing a total revenue of 10 billion dollars by 2025.
Tewolede began his career at Ethiopian Airlines in 1985 at the age of 18 as sales agent and served in different capacities in the cargo traffic handling department. He was appointed as Regional Director for India and South East Asia based in Mumbai and later transferred to Jeddah as Area Manager for Saudi Arabia. When Ethiopian Airlines commenced direct services to the USA, he was appointed as Area Sales Manager for North-East USA and Canada based in New York. In October 2000, he became Regional Director for the Americas.
On August 16, 2004 Tewolde was appointed Executive Officer, Marketing and Sales, to head the Marketing and Sales Operations of Ethiopian Airlines. On July 1, 2006 he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Ethiopian Airlines to head all the operating divisions of the airline, Commercial, Flight Operations, Customer Services and Maintenance and Engineering. According to his colleagues, for four years he successfully steered the operations of the airline during a period of an unprecedented and profitable growth. Tewolde was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines as of January 1, 2011.
Tewolde earned B.A. degree in Economics from Addis Ababa University and his Masters in Business Administrations (MBA) from the Open University in the United Kingdom.