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In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the office of CLT Toolbox is where the majority of the magic happens from a structural engineering perspective. The founding of the Ethiopian capability for CLT Toolbox by Lelissie, was made possible from her perspective by finding Adam, who in her view was a kindred spirit in valuing humility and commitment to cause as leaders. 

Lelissie Bedada, a deeply experienced structural engineer and team leader, found Adam on Upwork when he was first ever looking for support with his work after founding CLT Toolbox. She had always dreamed of opening an office and creating good opportunity for her people and culture. 

From the very beginning of the working relationship there has been a deep alignment in values and vision between the Adam & Lelissie and this has created the space for the incredible office of technical experts that we see today.  

However, in the early days as the complexity of the technical work evolved it was obvious to Lelissie that Wendirad Bedane, her old friend & colleague would need to be come on board as a Technical Lead as he is by most of our accounts, one of the most technically gifted and hard-working engineers around. 

*Lelissie & Wendirad during a trip up to Entoto Park in the outskirts of Addis Ababa

Until early in the year, most of the time and effort spent by either of them was on the technical work, however – as the year has progressed the nature of the roles have evolved into setting up an office space, bringing in talented team members and setting the tone for a world class office of structural engineers. 

Opening and operating a work space is no easy job, and so came along Masresha, our financial expert, tax compliance guru and all around “make things happen man” to make sure that everything done in the office was well managed and operated as a business that had no unexpected surprises or issues.

*Masresha cutting the bread during a traditional coffee ceremony

Throughout this experience, Adam was wondering how he’d accidentally found himself the least competent engineer on the team, but was rest assured to know that as Lelissie and Wendirad hired new engineers into the team, he is forever destined to be the least capable engineer at CLT Toolbox. 

The first round of new team members brought in were Bezawit, Soliyana & Tewodros. The company immediately felt the weight of new competency in the organisation, all 3 of the new team members were highly capable engineers and professionals, as well as beautiful people.

*From left to right – Wendirad, Bezawit, Lelissie, Soliyana, Tewodros (or Teddy), Masresha

Consistently, members of the Ethiopian office comment on the grace and quality of Lelissie’s leadership. The effectiveness of the onboarding and degree of care taken by her to make sure that every new team member feels respected, appreciated, and supported. 

During this period, she focused on growing the team and the office culture, to prepare work across geographic expansion, connections and the maintenance of existing calculators. This also coincided with the visit of the Melbourne team into Addis Ababa. 

In late September, we welcomed Arsema, Fantaye & Girum to CLT Toolbox. This was just before a big visit from their Australian counterparts so it was a really exciting time for all people to come together. 

*From Left to Right (Ringo, Soliyana, Masresha, Bezawit, Girum, Fantaye, Adam, Corey, Wendirad, Lelissie, Tewodros, Arsema)

For the month of October, everyone from Ethiopia & Australia got to enjoy learning from one another about our cultures, our goals, our dreams and to plan how we will continue to bring sustainable building materials into the mainstream. 

The Ethiopian culture takes hospitality extremely seriously, so for Adam, Corey & Ringo – visiting from Australia – they felt blessed to get to experience such a deep and ancient culture with so much history and so much pride. 

It was an amazing experience for everyone and the photos below tell the story:

*The women of CLT Toolbox Ethiopia (Lelissie, Arsema, Bezawit, Fantaye, Soliyana)

*Ringo finally in his happy place getting to have a loud and excitable conversation with Soliyana, Girum, Tewodros, Bezawit & Fentaye

*Following a presentation from Adam Jones at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (Tewodros, Lelissie, Corey, Adam, Wendirad, Soliyana)

*Wendirad, Lelissie, Adam & Corey after going for a horse ride and seeing that Corey is in fact a pro