All Dennis wanted to do was follow in the footsteps of his uncle, who was a manager at a top firm. Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Moi University in 2011, the soft-spoken Dennis realised his dream: joining KCB Group in his mid-20s.
Since then, he has held managerial positions at Coca-Cola East Africa, GlaxoSmithKline, Yara International, Cipla, and Tata Chemicals.
Then, two years ago, Ngaresero Soda Company, a mining company that deals in the extraction and production of soda ash around Lake Natron in Tanzania, tapped him as its Chief Operating Officer.
“Changing companies and settling on Ngaresero Soda Company has been strategic, led by my career growth ambitions,” he tells the Business Daily.
"Scouting for investors is the most demanding part. Remember that I have to convince someone on why it will benefit them to invest a million dollars in a sector they are not knowledgeable in."
Being a manager from a young age has prepared him for this role, which he describes as fulfilling and equally challenging.
The firm has 26 employees and won a concession from the Tanzanian government to prospect and mine soda ash.
Dennis is overseeing the completion of a $339 million (Sh51.5 billion) plant, forecasted to produce 500,000 tonnes of soda ash within two years.
He prides himself in having an eye for detail, an open mind ready to take on challenges, and a desire to impact his workers positively.
A typical day includes daily meetings with the firm’s geological team between 9am to 10am, after which he attends to routine HR tasks before the rest of the day gets busier.
A hectic schedule since he took over at the firm has stood in Mr Ngonela’s way of completing his PhD in Supply logistics at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, where he also attained his Masters degree.
His bosses, based in Dubai, have tasked Mr Ngonela with running the company since he was the first employee at Ngaresero Soda Company.
He says that talking with prospective investors is the most demanding part of his job, given the pressure of convincing them to pump money into a company that is yet to break ground.
“Scouting for investors is the most demanding part. Remember that I have to convince someone on why it will benefit them to invest a million dollars in a sector they are not knowledgeable in,” Dennis says.
As an influential figure in the firm, Dennis has shaped its investment policy in healthcare, water and sanitation and education, three sectors that he says are the most pressing needs for the local community.