Irene Charnley: We women will lead fundamental change on our continent #SheHiveJoburg

irene charnley shehive joburg
Have the conviction & fortitude to put forth your ideas - Irene Charnley #SheHiveJoburg Click To Tweet

Irene Charnley is an ex-MTN exec who led the company’s expansion into Nigeria and Iran. She’s also now a telecoms founder whose company, Pan-African, reigns supreme in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Congo. At #SheHiveJoburg Irene Charnley dazzled the crowd by sharing the key principles she has followed throughout her career to get to where she is today.

With a net worth of around $150 million, it was clear to all in the room that Irene knows a thing or two about being a Motherland Mogul.

Irene’s key principles to follow if you want to be successful

Have some core values and let them guide you

The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. According to Irene, when it comes to succeeding in business and in life, you have to realize that there is no magic out there, the magic is within you.

You must cultivate some core values rooted in integrity, as these will help guide and sustain you on whatever path you choose to follow. Irene shared that her core value is this: everything is possible. There is always a way, it is up to you to find it.

She talked about the difficulties she and her partner faced when trying to secure a building for their business. They faced challenges in getting landlords to rent to them. But having this “everything is possible” attitude, they were persistent in knocking on doors till someone finally let them in the building.

“What are the core value that drove you to action everyday?”, Irene opened this question to the audience and the awesome ladies of #SheHiveJoburg shared some of the following responses:

  • “I have the power to make everything I want come true”,
  • “Be truthful to yourself and to others”,
  • “Always follow through on your promises”,
  • “Be present in everything that you do, both physically and psychologically”.

Irene encouraged everyone in the audience to be true to their values every single day, to forget everyone else and please themselves first, to simply, “Be you!”

Irene Charnley's core value is simple, everything is possible! #SheHiveJoburg Click To Tweet
Always aim to be a subject matter expert

Irene talked about the importance of working twice as hard as everyone else in the room to become the expert, the one that people turn to when they want an explanation of how things work.

This is the only way to stay ahead of the competition and to become comfortable being in a position of power and influence. When you prepare diligently, you’ll begin to see things outside the box and are able to come up with solutions that no one else has thought of yet.

At the end of every day, you ought to ask yourself, “What did I learn today that was worth it for me?”

My key takeaway from Irene’s wisdom was, “Know that it’s about you, know what your core values are and always be prepared”.

The only way to stand ahead of competition is to work twice as hard - Irene Charnley Click To Tweet
Business is logic. Business sense is common sense

Sometimes what trips most people up on the way to success, especially when it comes to success in business, is that they waste too much time overthinking things. Women especially have the tendency to dwell too long on things. We are afraid to speak up and share our ideas because we feel like someone in the room must have a better one.

Irene shared a very important lesson on this topic. After having spent a lot of time in several boardrooms, one thing that became clear was that no one in the room has all the answers.

Have the conviction and the fortitude to put forth your ideas, even if they will be shot down or criticized. Use every opportunity as a learning point: ask questions, share your ideas, learn from others. That’s the only way to keep growing.

irene charnley shehive joburg
Find voices you trust. Keep them around you

Again, as women we have this tendency to want to shoulder all our burdens ourselves and fight and toil to get the answers we need. But Irene, as successful as she is, shared a key insight, “You can’t go through this journey alone. You need to find your angels and let them help you out along the way”.

Irene talked about the importance of having mentors to guide you by offering advice and a fresh perspective. Also of importance is being a role model yourself to someone else who is a bit behind you on the same path.

And as a sign of putting your money where your mouth is, Irene offered to share her email and phone number with all the ladies in the room. She promised to be available to mentor anyone who felt they could benefit from talking to her.

At #SheHiveJoburg Irene Charnley offered to be a mentor. See what else you missed out on Click To Tweet
Be a value-add. To everyone. All the time

For a minute, stop and think about you. What is it that you bring to the table, to your business, to your community that no one else does? What is it that you do differently that makes you so special?

Irene reminded us that we all have gifts that we should be nurturing. It is up to us to bring these gifts with us to every relationship or partnership. We should start to view entrepreneurship as a way to add value to what is already out there.

Build sensible relationships, sensitively

Last but not least, Irene talked about the important of relationships. Of cultivating the right relationships, with the right people at the right time. On the journey to success, we must strive to do our best to listen and learn, and to truly understand where others are coming from so that we might know how to best serve them.

Irene ended her talk on a powerful note with a statement which I believe will resonate within everyone in the audience and anyone connected to the She Leads Africa community, “You as women will be the ones to make a difference in leading fundamental change on our continent. This is what She Leads Africa means to me, and I hope to all of you.”