It can be challenging to navigate the professional world. Especially while trying to find yourself in your career journey. However, there are many black women who have come before us and blazed trails. They prove that anything is possible with hard work and determination.
Mo Abudu highlights the importance of pursuing a career you love, while Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma emphasizes the importance of self-confidence. Lupita Nyong’o encourages women to stay true to themselves and never let anyone dim their light. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka motivates women to believe in their abilities and not let anyone tell them they can’t do something. Finally, Wangari Maathai inspires women to stand up for their rights and encourage others to do the same.
Here are six quotes from some of the most renowned black women in Africa. Wise words that every career woman can learn from.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
– Mo Abudu, Nigeria
Mo Abudu is a Nigerian media mogul and philanthropist. She has made a name for herself in the media industry. Her quote emphasizes the importance of loving what you do in order to achieve success. Pursue a career that you’re passionate about.This will keep you motivated to work hard and achieve your goals.
“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”
– Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa
Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a South African politician. She is also the first woman to lead the African Union Commission. Her quote emphasizes the importance of self-confidence and believing in your own abilities. Trust yourself and your abilities in order to achieve your goals.
“Stay true to who you are, and never let anyone dim your light.”
– Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan-Mexican actress and producer
Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress and producer who has made a name for herself in Hollywood. She has won numerous awards for her acting, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Nyong’o’s message is to stay true to who you are and never let anyone dim your light. Embrace your uniqueness and let your light shine bright.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
– Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South African politician and UN Under-Secretary-General, South Africa
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is a South African politician and activist who has been a strong advocate for women’s rights throughout her career. She served as the Deputy President of South Africa and is currently the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. Mlambo-Ngcuka’s message is clear: don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. With hard work and determination, anything is possible.
“The beauty of standing up for your rights is that others see you standing and stand up as well.”
– Wangari Maathai, Kenya
This quote by Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist, can inspire career women to be confident and vocal in advocating for their rights and the rights of others. By standing up for themselves, they can encourage others to do the same and create positive change in their workplaces and communities.
The professional world can be challenging, but these six quotes from renowned black women in Africa provide guidance and inspiration for every career woman.
These wise words remind us that with hard work, determination, and self-confidence, anything is possible in the professional world.
Dupe Akinsiun, is a seasoned HR professional with extensive years of practice that cuts across Management Consulting, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG and career-building across West & Southern Africa. She is a certified professional with leading international HR associations like SHRM, HRCI, HRMA.
She currently works as a Leadership Capability Development Expert with a leading multinational FMCG company with presence in over 20 countries.
This is a summary of Dupe’s insights on building the career of your dreams and tackling career challenges.
Having a job is different from building a career. A career is a combination of jobs, skills, experiences, relationships, and qualifications you gather over an extended period of time to add some sort of value. This can be through entrepreneurship or employment.
When it comes to career building, I advise professionals to think long term. Thinking long term gives you the chance to look beyond current limitations. Focusing on a job instead can restrict your thinking and make you myopic.
The career you decide you want to have will influence the kind of jobs you seek. Building the career of your dreams starts with knowing what you want. While it might sound easy, it can be difficult to articulate what you want.
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Here are some tips for building the career of your dreams:
1. Look within
Spend some time to identify what you have to offer. We need to learn to be able to reflect without paying attention to the noises or distractions that come from what people think we should be doing or not doing.
To help with your reflection, ask yourself questions like:
What are my strengths and skills?
Are there problems I can solve?
Which of these problems do I feel inclined to solve based on the skills, education, relationships or resources I have at my disposal?
2. Look without
Spend some time with a professional who can guide you. Some people find reflection challenging and are unable to do it effectively. These people may need to get help either from a coach or a more senior professional who can help them light the path.
3. Define your career challenges
There is no blanket solution to all career challenges so you need to find out what your challenge is.
I have seen people wrongly define their problems and as a result, they do not get the desired solution. The first step to solving any challenge is defining the problem.
Find those who have the same career struggles as you, but are successful. This will be a lot easier if you are actively connecting with your network. Seek advice and make necessary adjustments.
Keep reviewing and iterating the solutions until you get on the right path
4. Beware of Imitation
Learn from people, but remember to adapt their recommendations to your reality. This is because you are unique, the circumstances surrounding their own issues may slightly differ from yours and so may not make their recommendations 100% applicable.
If you have not heard of Sho Madjozi, you must be living under a rock. This year, the 27-year-old proud Tsonga ambassador from Limpopo solidified her spot as an international superstar with hits like John Cena.
While she’s been in the rap scene for barely 3 years, she’s found major success in a short time. This year, she won the Best New International Act category at the BET Awards, launched her first fashion collection in collaboration with Edgards, and got the world taking the #JohnCenaChallenge.
After learning all we could about Sho Madjozi’s career, here are 5 lessons all Motherland Moguls can apply to accelerate their career growth.
1. Use your strengths
Maya (Sho Madjozi’s legal name) has spent years honing and leveraging her writing skills to build a career for herself.
Whether she’s doing screenplays, poetry or rap, she understands her core strength and has used that to explore career paths including journalism, performance poetry and rap.
Develop your strengths and use them to build your career. When you bring something valuable to the table, you set yourself up for accelerated success.
2. Get involved in your community
Sho Madjozi has always used her talents to try to shape or change the community around her.
As a poet and journalist, she discussed racial identity and the effects of colonialism on the modern African. Now as a rapper, she promotes Tsonga culture and inspires young Africans to be proud of their roots.
One major way Sho Madjozi accelerated her career growth this year was through her strategic partnership with Edgars. Through her collaboration with the retail brand, she launched her first clothing line at the same time as her album.
To reach your career goals, it’s always easier and faster to get some help. Seek out strategic partners within your network that will help you reach your business goals. A great start is to find a mentor.
4. Know your worth
In an interview with Africori, Sho Madjozi explains that African artists need to understand that they are very hot in the market right now and need to negotiate their value appropriately.
Understanding the value of your skills and experiences is important to accelerate your career.
The most important to take away from Sho Madjozi’s hustle this year is to bet on yourself. Sho Madjozi’s success in the past year has been with no label support. She has continuously taken chances and invested in herself.
You must take swings and get out of your comfort zone to grow – volunteer to be team lead on a project, pitch that idea in your head, and start that side hustle!
What lessons will you use to SLAY your career in 2020?
Join us on Wednesday, October 31st, for a Webinar with Vumile Msweli, founder of Hesed Consulting, who will be giving advice on how to reach the next level in your career.
Vumile has had experience working with individuals and entrepreneurs to accelerate their careers and businesses, and she’ll be helping you too!
Some of the topics we’ll cover
How to design your career
Positioning yourself for your career
Finding your Ikigai (the source of value in your life)
Re-discovering your career passion
How to maximize your career for success
Register below to access this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Vumile to answer.
Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
Time: 3pm Lagos // 4pm Joburg // 5pm Nairobi
Location: We’ll send you the link to watch once you register
Watch the webinar here:
Vumile Msweli is an international speaker, renowned career coach, columnist, and the Chief Executive officer for Hesed Consulting. Hesed is a consulting firm specializing in commerce acceleration; career coaching; women empowerment; facilitation and training on the African continent with a presence in Nigeria and South Africa.
Vumile has worked in Europe; Asia and across the African continent for reputable multinational institutions including Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank, and Vodafone. Vumi is a regular contributor to the Guardian Nigeria and Destiny South Africa, she has spoken at the African Union, Women’s Economic Forum and USAID to mention a few.
She is an award-winning businesswoman who has received honours such as the Women’s’ Economic Forum’s Woman of Excellence Award, being named 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media, the Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans and awarded the Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category and the Black Management Forum’s Young Professional of the Year.
In the wake of women’s month, it is so important to use our platform to always uplift young women so that they can reach their full potential in whichever career path they choose.
As a young black woman, especially as one starting out in her career, the work place can be a challenging space to navigate through. Gender pay gap, sexual harassment and racial discrimination are our biggest issues and play a pivotal role in how fast or slowly we climb up the career ladder.
This constantly leaves us questioning where we fit, add value and what kind of impact we are going to make in our chosen fields.
Keep reading, because below, we have asked 3 young and incredibly talented women to speak to us about the 3 key lessons they have learnt to push past the career challenges of the young black woman.
Be you. Most of us don’t know how to naturally be ourselves but once you are able to simply show your personality, you become impressionable to your peers.
Be curious, read and ask questions. Not just on your job but on those related to yours. Understand the business’ big picture and where you fall in so you are better able to plan your own path of success.
Get a sponsor or mentor to understand what value you wish to extract from the relationship.
Lastly, try be sociable. Comes easier to others but people promote and hire those they like. Go to the work drinks, go to the charity event and talk about things that are not work related to understand fully people’s characters and where your personalities get along.
Above all, remember you are magic.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
I think we’re all familiar with the fact that corporate South Africa continues to be largely white and male. The secret is to invest in yourself not only intellectually or professionally but mentally and spiritually.
My experience has taught me that as a young black woman, I have always felt that I needed to be exceptional to be given the same respect as my white, male or white male peers. I have found myself going over and above what was required only to be overlooked.
I have come to learn what it is that I bring to the table and ensuring that at every point, at least one person at the table is clear about what that is.
Find allies in the workplace and use them for guidance as well as to off-load because there will be days when you need to vent before you can continue.
More than anything else, build a strong support system outside of the office and take care of yourself. Be deliberate about taking care of yourself and try to enjoy it by celebrating your victories, big and small.
MAINTAIN YOUR CONFIDENCE
In my profession where knowledge is everything, I have learnt that one must never stop working on their emotional intelligence.
I think that’s so important in the workplace. Always be your own biggest fan, and don’t expect others to pat your back. Know that you are enough, know that whatever is thrown at you, you can handle.
Trust yourself, fight for yourself, and never lose sight of who you are.
Kachi Tila Adesina is an example of Motherland Mogul goals! After growing up in Nigeria, Kachi moved to the UK in 2014 to work as a corporate lawyer. In March 2017, she was admitted as a solicitor of England and Wales.
Beyond her career, Kachi enjoys a wide range of hobbies that have led her towards starting her blog – Kachee Tee. KacheeTee.com is a different kind of lifestyle blog that features everything that women would go through. From relationships, travel, career, beauty, fashion, blogging, food and most recently parenting – this blog has a little bit for everyone.
Through her blog, Kachi hopes to inspire her readers to learn to live intentionally and have fun. In this interview, she gives us a glimpse of her blogging journey and her great plans for the future.
Tell us about your blog – KacheeTee
I started KacheeTee.com with zero ideas of what I was getting into. My need to get an outlet to write was constantly consuming my thoughts. So, I decided to give it a go and two years later, I am still blogging!
Before starting, I was oblivious to how big the blogging industry was. This was good because not knowing the task ahead kept me from quitting earlier on. Over the years, the blog has evolved from just sharing my own stories. I now also share other people’s experiences, journeys, and stories.
Due to my curiosity about a lot of things, my blog has more of a holistic lifestyle blog. It was important to me to create the kind of blog I’d love to read which is easy to read and I can relax while reading.
What was it like publishing your first post?
I published my first blog post on Facebook for my friends to read. Though I was nervous and almost regretted my decision to ‘come out of my shell’, my friends were very receptive. Many of them subscribed to the blog and sent messages of how they were looking forward to the next post. At this point, I couldn’t quit.
It’s been a learning curve and an interesting couple of years. Now, my posts are much different to the initial ones. But, what’s remained consistent is the amount of passion and effort poured into every single post.
What values have been critical to your personal and career growth?
My top three values are – Excellence, Integrity, and Christian faith. I have a genuine desire to truly excel at most things to the best of my ability and this constantly pushes me.
To me, excellence also ties in with impact. I am very keen to inspire, educate and add value in some way. So often, in my career and personal life, I ask “what’s to be gained from this?“. This has guided everything that I do from my career to even on my blog.
I strongly believe, where there’s value, there’s often growth. In all this, I’m conscious of acting with integrity and authenticity – making sure I stay true to who I am and don’t lose my voice. Finally, my Christian faith and beliefs guide me all the way and I believe is very instrumental in my growth.
Launching my blog is definitely one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. But it’s had a lot impact on my life. It’s given me confidence and made me believe in myself a lot more. I’ve also met many amazing people!
But interestingly, I’ve also developed a creative mindset I didn’t think I had. Even when I’m tired, my mind is always spinning all these creative new ideas for the blog.
Overall, the blog has brought a lot of fulfillment in my life. During my 28th birthday – the first after I launched my blog – I received many overwhelming messages from people saying how much I’d inspired them through my blog. This was a great sign of how fulfilling my blog is.
You’re a very busy Motherland Mogul. How do you manage it all?
Two words – balance and support. As an adult, it is important to know how to balance the many things that demand your attention.
In everything you do, it’s important to strike a fair balance and identify what are the current priorities. There have been times when my priority was work or family, and my blog had to take a back seat- and that’s okay! The most important thing is to become organized and resourceful.
It’s also instrumental to have the right kind of support. My husband knows I enjoy being a lawyer and a blogger, therefore, being able to do these things allows me to be a great wife and mother. He’s happy to give his 100 percent support when necessary. I’m also very open to other kinds of support – from outsourcing the house chores to volunteers who edit blog posts.
What kind of partnerships and environments are necessary for bloggers to thrive?
Blogging is hard work! Many bloggers put in time, effort and money to produce great content. However, without engagement from their audience, fellow bloggers, and brands, it becomes tough.
Therefore, support is very important for the growth of a blog. Support can be engaging with the content to partnering with fellow bloggers to get advice and even create content. Though sometimes it may be uncommon for lifestyle bloggers to collaborate with others, it’s important as it helps reach new audiences.
Does living in the diaspora influence your style of blogging in any way?
Living in the UK does influence my style of blogging in a couple of ways relating to content and standards. Knowing that my blog is being read by a diverse set of people, I especially pay attention to ensure my content is relatable, and the language is not overly limited to Nigerian/ African lingua.
This does not mean that I refrain from telling our stories or experiences. On the contrary, living here propels me to tell more of our stories and push for greater representation and diversity in blogging.
Finally, being in the UK exposes me to a higher standard of professionalism and expectations. I’m constantly challenging myself to write better and produce a blog that I can introduce to anyone, anywhere.
What are your goals for the future?
Essentially my goal is to build a blog and platform that is so much bigger than just ‘Kachi’. I plan to do this through increasing readership across Nigeria and wider Africa – as well as Africans in the diaspora.
However, knowing that there is a lot of content out there sometimes scares me. But I’ve realized it’s not just about me. I’m ready to build a team to help me take this blog to the next level in terms of quality and quantity of content. I’d also love to create a network where bloggers can share knowledge and exchange ideas through seminars, workshops, events or even virtually via podcasts.
Finally, I’d love to partner with more brands, companies, and organizations to reach my target audience and add value. From parenting to travel, fashion, lifestyle, and careers – there’s so much opportunity for such mutually benefiting partnerships.
What three movies do you think should definitely have sequels?
Me Before You. I cried so much watching this movie, and perhaps a sequel where I get to laugh a lot might be good. There’s a book sequel now (haven’t read it yet though), so we just might get a movie sequel
Black Panther. I absolutely enjoyed the movie and I think a sequel that further raises the issue of diversity and representation is very much welcome! Rumor has it, there’d be a sequel and I hope we see more of Shuri – loved her.
Pretty Woman. I’m not sure what the plot of the sequel could be, but I’d pay to watch it. Such a classic.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
Was one of your new year’s resolutions to finally get that blog, podcast or business idea off the ground? Well, if so, I’ve got great news for you!
I recently sat down with the amazing Tobi Olujumni who shared 5 simple steps that you can take to turn this dream into a reality.
For anyone unfamiliar with her, Tobi is the founder of the WTALK, a Multiplatform Entertainment & Faith Network which empowers Women to explore Faith via entertainment.
W360 is the membership streaming service of WTALK set to redefine Faith within global entertainment.
She is a powerful communicator and sought after preacher of the Word of God. You can read the tips that she shared in our interview below:
1. Start small but do something
First of all, I would say, start small. Start small but do something. I think that in the day and the society and the culture in which we live now, everyone expects you to have ten thousand followers or a hundred thousand followers, or what have you.
And you’re almost deemed unsuccessful if you haven’t attained that. All of these things are just massive distractions. If you have something on your heart to create, I would say start small. If you want to start a blog, start writing. Start writing on your notepad.
For example, it’s so funny because someone asked me about how I do status updates. Well actually, some of my status updates come on the train and I put it in my notepad. Then I get a kind of a nudge a few weeks later and I think “Oh, that’s for this time!” and I post it.
So first, I would say, start small but do something. That’s big! Because, you know, I have a lot of people that come to me and they’re like “how?” or “what should I do” and I’m like “just do something!” It doesn’t have to be fantastic.
I am a perfectionist but sometimes that can work against me because sometimes some things need to go out.
Some things need to resonate. It’s not about the camera angles, it’s the message that needs to reach the person who needs it most. So that’s why I would encourage whoever it is to start and do something.
2. Be consistent
And then I would say, be consistent. Be consistent because people like to trust that you’re going to be around. That’s how you build a community.
That’s how you build a following- if people trust you; that you’re going to be around. And, if you think about it, if we look at any of the big, massive brands, we trust that they’re going to work.
For example, if I log onto Netflix, I trust that the shows are going to be there. That’s because of their consistency and I think, as you show up and you’re consistent, people will build a trust towards you. People will build a trust towards your voice.
3. Know your voice
The third one I would say to everyone is, what’s your voice? It’s incredibly crowded. It’s incredibly noisy. People are getting notifications left, right and center.
So, what is your voice? It goes back to knowing your identity because I think your voice flows from your being. For example, I’m not creating anything today that doesn’t flow organically from who I am.
You only have got to spend about an hour with me and you’ll know that’s true. So, I would say, what’s your voice? I hear people say they want to be the next Oprah. Good for you but Oprah exists and she doesn’t look like she’s going anywhere for now.
What’s your voice? Because your voice will resonate to the place it’s supposed to be sent.
4. Be persistent and be determined
And, after consistency and knowing your voice, be persistent and be determined.
Your idea is not going to grow overnight. If you get it overnight, you’ll probably lose it overnight. It’s about legacy. It’s about building deep roots.
Like at this moment, I’m not overly concerned with having millions of followers but what I am concerned about because we’re in our infancy at this stage (we’re under 5 years as a company), is building deep roots. Roots that are so deep our infrastructure is laid and it’s tight so we can build upon that.
If your infrastructure’s dodgy, if the foundation’s dodgy and you’re trying to get to 100 followers, the whole thing’s going to collapse. The fact is, if you don’t want the long endgame, I would challenge you to question why? What is your why?
If you just want to make a little bit of money- you can do something else that is less stressful. If you want it now, I would challenge you to question your why. If you get your why, then you’ll know it’s definitely a long run.
5. Be passionate
You must be passionate about what you’re doing because you have great wins and you have days where you’re just like “oh my goodness!” And I just think, the thing that keeps me going is my why and my passion.
It’s the passion- seeing who you’re hoping to help or who you’re hoping to bless or who you’re hoping to communicate with, it’s those things.
Having a little reminder on your phone is really helpful too.
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I wear 2 caps – Beauty Blogger and Marketing /PR Professional. In this article, I would like to put on my corporate hat and share a few key lessons I learned about job hunting in Ghana since I recently started at a new position at a Reputation Management Agency.
I completed my Master’s degree in the UK (MSc Marketing, Distinction) in September 2016 and graduated in January 2017. I returned to Ghana in September 2016 and did not find a job until April 2017, almost 6 months later.
Afterwards, I took a well-deserved break from September 2016 – November 2016 and took the time to catch up with friends and family I had neglected during my intensive 1-year programme.
In November, I began to send out emails to some of my past professional contacts and networks to let them know I was back in town and looking for a job.
Most of the responses I got were “No one is really hiring at this time of the year, it will be better to start in the New Year.” So I slowed down in December / early January / until I returned from my graduation and then I switched gears at the end of January.
I sent my CV and cover letter to any and everyone I knew in the industry and signed up and with some recruitment agencies.The most important point for me was that I did not want to get hired because of nepotism or as a favor. I wanted my CV and experience to speak for itself so that whoever was going to hire me would really see the value I would be bringing to the table.
I went for a few interviews, but none of the positions sparked the interest I knew I needed in order to be happy with the job. Long story short, one of the professional contacts I got in touch with responded and let me know there was availability and the rest is history.
Here are 10 key lessons I have learned during the 6 months I was job hunting in Ghana:
1. You will be ignored and rejected
You will receive various emails saying – “I regret to inform you that your qualifications do not match our requirements at this time”.
Do not let this get to you, continue to prepare for individual jobs/interviews, make sure you know your strong points and are selling them to each company in the appropriate manner.
2. Experience matters
As much as you can, do not leave too many gaps in your CV as this puts many employers off. Try as much as possible to list your experience chronologically and continue to reiterate it in interviews. Sometimes, experience trumps qualifications
3. Figure out your Unique Selling Point
Figure out what your strengths are and when you have been able to apply them during your career. Focus on these points during your interview. Try not to be a jack of all trades, pick a few skills you have and build on them
4. CV matters
Your CV is the first impression your potential employer has of you, make sure to wow them. Keep the CV short and simple, with bullet points and short, sharp quantifiable experience.
5. You might start at the bottom
In Ghana, it is very difficult to start a job at the position you think reflects your qualification and experience. Be patient, give each challenge your all and you will be able to rise through the ranks quickly!
It is especially important that you let your potential employer know that you are looking to be promoted within 6 months during the later stages of your interviews so they are aware that you are willing to work hard. Don’t confuse starting at the bottom with starting with a completely different job in a different department.
The best example I can give for this would be starting as an Account Executive at an agency when you should actually be an Account Manager
6. Have patience and humility
During the time of your hunt, you are going to need to be extremely patient with yourself, with your potential employers and even with your friends and family who may be pressurizing you to look into other industries / other positions.
Stick with your goals and continue to work towards what you think is best for you
7. Keep an open mind
This is related to points 5 & 6 – keep an open mind with regards to different positions you might enjoy, timelines for hiring and even salaries. You might need to be a bit flexible in the first few months to ensure you get a position you enjoy
8. Connections and networks are important
These are not necessarily personal connections but it is advisable to attend industry events in order to generate strong networks you can fall back on when it comes to time to look for a job. Don’t ignore the power of LinkedIn!
9. You will be pressurized
You will definitely start feeling pressurized by your family/friends and even by yourself especially if it is taking a while to get a job. Stand firm in your beliefs and continue to re-evaluate your choices, keeping your goals in mind
10. Qualifications don’t always matter
Sometimes, your qualifications don’t always matter. You will see people in your position or higher who don’t have the same qualifications as you. That is fine as your education opens up your mind and allows you to think of solutions in different ways.
These qualifications may not necessarily matter on paper but they open your mind up beyond what it would have been able to process before you got the degree
My personal advice is to figure out what career path you would like to take based on your personality, your interests, your likes and dislikes and then find a position that is best suited for you.
It may not be a perfect fit but if it ticks 8 out of 10 boxes, then it’s a good fit. Stand firm in your choices; do not get swayed by others who may not necessarily know what your end goal might be.
Resources to check out for job hunting in Ghana
African Bagg Recruitment
What key lessons have you learned from job hunting in your country? Share your experience with us here.
“I remember when I had just started as a junior metallurgist, I had to give an operational instruction to one of the teams. A man from the team told me that he will not take an instruction from a woman. I was shocked!”- says ‘Mining Powerhouse’, Thulisile Gama, who is making a name for herself in the Mining and Metals sector.
Thulisile holds a BSc Metallurgical Engineering degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a Senior Metallurgist at Tronox KZN Sands. She has served as chairperson of Tronox Women’s Network, a global network aimed at supporting the professional development of women in engineering. She is a mentor to young girls, particularly those from the rural areas.
Dressed in stuffy, hot overalls with big safety boots on, climbing high staircases of tall metal equipment, with temperatures higher than 1000oC, her work environment is not an easy one at all!. “I get paid to play with sand!”, she says playfully.
What made you choose your field of work and what has made you stay in it so far?
Mining is the backbone of South Africa’s economy. I joined this industry because I am passionate about natural resources and I wanted to be part of the bigger picture. There is never a dull moment. From supply-demand dynamics of different commodities, advancement in technology, or the status of the global economy, each day brings something new.
All these changes affect the industry and as engineers, we are forced to implement more innovative solutions to ensure the survival of companies. I enjoy the variety of work and the daily challenges that my job provides.
Take us through what you do on a typical day at work.
There is never a ‘typical’ day at work and that’s what I like about my job. One day I find myself sitting in long strategic meetings, and the next day I am offering solutions to process issues at the plant. Each morning I review the production of the previous day and ensure that the quantity and quality are within specification. Initiating and identifying continuous improvement ideas that will save cost is also something that I incorporate into my daily decision-making and thinking.
How do you manage to get your opinions heard in a room full of male engineering experts?
If I’m invited to a meeting, I believe that my technical skills and opinions are needed and I deserve to be there. One thing that I constantly remind myself of is that as women, we have the same thinking ability as men. When voicing my opinion, I make sure that I do not allow myself to be interrupted in the process. Confidence, self-esteem, and assertiveness are key aspects of being heard as women.
Some studies have found that women tend to leave their engineering careers after some time. Why do you think this is the case?
A lack of female role models in mining is a major contributor to female engineers leaving the industry. Having role models who are the same gender as you, who have walked the same path can go a long way. For us women to influence the world of mining, we need to to be more accommodating of females and build a network of solidarity. It is important for women to support other women and serve as mentors to young girls.
In South Africa, mining companies have been driving to up their female employee numbers by offering women bursaries. Sometimes, women study engineering only because they are offered a bursary. I’ve seen this happening especially to African people from disadvantaged communities who cannot afford to fund their own studies. Some realize only when they start work that engineering is not for them and quit.
How can young women interested in the mining industry better prepare themselves for a career as a metallurgist?
For young females who are interested in pursuing metallurgy as a career, I would say ‘go for it!’ It is a challenging environment but with lots of opportunities.
When I started work, I didn’t want to acknowledge the gender barrier but I have come to see my gender as a strength and I now focus on leveraging it. Invest time in researching about this field. Enter this industry because of passion, not money, and find yourself a mentor or role model.
Having an engineering degree doesn’t mean that you are not going to crawl and get dirty. You need to work your way up the ranks, starting at the bottom. It’s also important to be teachable. Be keen to learn and take the initiative to do so. Focus on building strong fundamentals when you start as a junior, you’ll need those as you progress in your career.
How do you let your hair down after a long week of solving complex engineering problems and ‘playing with sand’?
I spend time with my awesome son and read a lot when I’m not at work. I enjoy the outdoor life, exploring new places and different cultures. Running also liberates me. Also, I have a passion for fashion and I’m planning to start my own clothing line in the near future!
Have you ever felt like you have been stuck in the same job or subjected to the same career circumstances with no progression? Perhaps you got your first job during the compulsory Nigerian National Youth Service and your Primary Place of Assignment (sponsoring institution) deemed you a good fit for the time-being. If you feel unfulfilled or have not encountered some excitement in your career, the next question to ask yourself is, “Do I really like where I am?” and “Do I have a career development plan?”.
If you answered ‘no’ to both questions then this article is for you. Career development is an intentional plan to achieve successive milestones over the duration of your working years and applies to people in paid employment as well as business owners. Here are five career development hacks you should actively take advantage of:
Join industry groups
Joining industry or trade groups that provide opportunities to learn from people with years of experience will expose you to larger opportunities in the course of your career. Volunteering in such associations will inevitably cause you to liaise with the movers and shakers while receiving the inside scoop on industry happenings.
Such groups often host member events or may have a website with limitless resources.Whether you are an accountant or media professional, no woman is an island so start networking!
Attend seminars and conferences in your area of interest
This may be in an area of specialisation or one you wish to be educated in while organically expanding your knowledge without investing too much on a more elaborate educational arrangement. For example, a business lawyer may regularly attend seminars organised by the Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Business Law but may wish to attend Oil and Gas conferences organised by the key players in the Oil and Gas industry. This will enable the lawyer to obtain first-hand knowledge of current affairs.
Most seminars and conferences may be strictly by invitation or will be accessible at a reduced cost for members of an association. Why pay full price for such an event when you can get it at a cheaper cost while milking the benefits of being part of a knowledgeable network? Fill those membership forms today!
“Being anti-social is good for your career,” said no one ever. There are no rules guiding where you can or should network; it’s possible to meet someone who may be the missing link to that big deal or even your future boss in the company you’ve been planning to make career moves to since Christmas 2016. Managers or career influencers also like to observe how “network savvy” you are in crowds and how well you act as the face of the company outside.
If you are an introvert in a profession that requires a lot of networking, you may be faced with the dilemma of stepping outside your comfort zone or potentially jeopardising your career development. Speaking to people at weddings, at a Church social or even a jazz bar may unfold unlikely discoveries. Just take that plunge for your career!
Develop mentoring relationships
In the course of your working career, a few people will inevitably stand out because of their network and industry experience. Building key relationships with such people may steer your thoughts and influence your actions towards career growth and development.
The presence of a mentor does not equate to having a personal therapist from whom you would seek advice for every unfortunate case of office politics. Rather, set career goals and ask these mentors for advice on your long-term plans and how they affect your progression.
Although many people identify with one mentor, it is possible to have a similarly beneficial relationship with one or two other people. For example, a wedding photographer and one who focuses on nature may have different techniques so it may be worth shadowing both photographers.
Keep in touch
Even if you do not develop a mentor-mentee relationship with senior colleagues or peers, it’s pertinent to keep in touch and maintain relationships with a few people. This doesn’t mean you should call them all the time but sending an email to find out how your fellow stockbroker is handling the latest Securities and Exchange Commission’s directive will fall within the scope of reasonable contact.
It’s not very nice to reach out to people only when you need something as nobody wants to feel used; if you maintain a good relationship with people via email or phone calls, you may have a higher chance of getting ‘help’ when you ask for favours.
The significance of these five hacks is that immersing yourself in one will ultimately lead to involvement in another which will allow you apply simultaneous effort to your career development. Developing your career amidst short courses, professional exams, attending seminars and being social is very tasking but is totally worth it once a mastery of time management is achieved.