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Nozuko Mayeza: The strength of will to succeed needs to be constant in any businesswoman’s mindset

[bctt tweet=”After spending 7 years in banking, Nozuko Mayeza figured it wasn’t for her” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] Women are generally underestimated simply for being a woman, hence the belief that we cannot perform like men in their work environment.  However, given the equal opportunity as men, we see that many women perform wonderfully in their careers and becoming successful as entrepreneurs. Nozuko Mayeza is one of the few South African women breaking glass ceilings and navigating her way through male-dominated industries successfully. As a woman of great business sense with a passion to see her business and other small businesses succeed, Nozuko also trains young women on how they too can break through in any industry. Nozuko is the founder of Tulsawiz Logistics (Pty) Ltd which has operated in the supply chain sector for several years. Nozuko also has her eyes set on expanding her horizon with her successful strategies that have gotten her far. SLA contributor Neo Cheda met Nozuko through a mutual friend who introduced us a few years back and was attracted to her as most strong women are attracted to other strong women! Nozuko gladly took up the opportunity to meet with Neo and to share her story of how she has risen and continues to soar and overcome societal norms and tribulations that try to hinder successful people from exercising their personal power. So, why logistics? Well, after spending seven years in the financial services industry, banking to be precise, I figured this was not for me. From a young age, I had always wondered why there was heavy traffic and so many trucks on the road and what they were on about. I then realized that logistics permeates every field, be it fashion, technology, construction, science and more. There were opportunities waiting for someone with my kind of passion and skills set in logistics. My current role spans client relations, managing diverse stakeholders, finance, and connecting with industry experts. This is what I enjoy. How did you begin your journey? There is a lot to learn from men in terms of how they do business –everything from their work ethic, confidence and their strategies to solving problems. A male friend of mine after attending a networking event, introduced me, to logistics. He mentored me and taught me all about the business dynamics until I acquired my first contract. I even worked as a subcontractor for him until I eventually landed on my feet. [bctt tweet=”Nozuko Mayeza: There is a lot to learn from men in terms of how they do business” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] You’ve been making the headlines and I recently saw a TV interview of you. Tell me, what has driven you to succeed? It’s mostly about following my passion and proving to myself that I can be more. I attribute the greatest lessons in my life to the hardships I endured along my journey and credit my mother for my tenacity. Born and raised in a village called Ndakeni/Ntlenzi in Eastern Cape, my twin sister and I had to juggle a home run shop and take turns with the younger siblings. Since then I have been business savvy and pushed to find ways to make things happen. My success in this field was born from life’s hard lessons. I chose to learn “how to be better” from each one and never quit on myself! It takes a lot of courage and with no money and finance, I had to hit the ground running. Getting big contracts is extremely difficult, but the trick is to never give-up. I was not received well as a woman in the industry but my strategies helped a lot. How is it being a single mom with a high-powered career? Though this can all be very challenging, it’s important to find ways to integrate work and life. I don’t approach it as though someone else was meant to help me parent my child. I’ve taught my son total independence, he knows I won’t make it to all his rugby matches etc, and he is cool with that. Whenever there is an issue (teenage problems) I find a solution quickly to avoid escalation. What advice do you have for women considering a career in logistics? Logistics is an exciting and challenging career choice that brings with it a lot of rewarding relationships and lifelong customers. I have witnessed first-hand over the last six years the growth of women in the industry and seen their roles continue to strengthen. Hopefully, in the next decade the term “a man’s field” will no longer exist in supply chain management. I am very passionate about mentoring and helping other women discover and exercise their potential and at the moment I have a few ladies I mentor as they start their own businesses! Society needs more entrepreneurs to eradicate poverty and make the world a better one. The main challenge however, is the lack of skills in demand, funding, and basic knowledge. This is where I step in and freely provide any knowledge to powerful women as I walk them through their path and start-up phase. [bctt tweet=”My success in this field was born from life’s hard lessons – Nozuko Mayeza” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] Any other highlights to date? I recently traveled abroad for a business trip which enabled me to form partnerships with international companies. This was an experience which has made realize how far I have come. I also write and have co-authored a book entitled “Share Your Story, Vol. 5”. Also be on the lookout for my new book titled “Plan Your Walk and Walk Your Plan” which should be published by December 2017. Tips for emerging female entrepreneurs: Dedication- Know what you want and go for it. Network often Keep pushing- Quitting is not an option Get a mentor- I credit mine for contributing to my business success Failure is never an option and the strength of will to succeed needs to be a constant factor in any businesswoman’s mind-set. Nozuko Mayeza If you’d like to share

Taking command: Meet Kenya’s first female marine pilot, Elizabeth Marami

elizabeth marami she leads africa

At only 27 years, Elizabeth Marami is charting the path less travelled and breaking gender barriers that have been in place for so long. Her courage would see her swim away from the waters of comfort to take up a comprehensive and challenging course in navigation and become a marine pilot. Intimidating and authoritative would be the ideal requirements for her job. However, Elizabeth has a warm personality, petite physique and is soft spoken for a person whose main duty is to take ‘command’. You have the name pilot in your job title, does that scare you? I do not often introduce myself as a marine pilot. It was just recently that I just found myself doing so. I believe it must have leaned more into the fact that I was talking to someone who inspires me and made me feel comfortable saying it. I am just Liz. What influenced your choice of career? I didn’t want to be ordinary. I wanted to pursue something that would challenge me. So when I heard about a scholarship, I could not resist the temptation to apply. The scholarship would have me leave Kenya for Alexandria, Egypt to study navigation. The selection process was very competitive and I couldn’t believe it when I was awarded. I had another offer to study law at the University of Nairobi but my mind was set on navigation. What comprises navigation studies? The degree course takes 5 years. On completion you get certification from a UN body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). There is also a mandatory requirement of 18 months of sea time for every rise in rank and additional channel training at Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). I’m currently at second officer level. When I joined the training I was one of 2 female students, the rest were men. The training is very extensive with classes running late into the evening. I never had a typical college life of fun and socializing. You are now a marine pilot; describe a typical work day in your life I am a second officer in command. Foreign ships coming to the Kenyan territorial waters are not allowed to navigate on their own and have to have a Kenyan pilot meet them and help navigate. By doing that, you are taking ‘command’. I understand you are the only woman in your workplace. What are the dynamics? Do you prefer working with men as opposed to women? Our workplace is predominantly male. Small things such as bathrooms —where we have separate bathrooms for the male staff and the rest for general public— goes to show the gender disparity that is in the maritime industry. Yet the real struggle is not about the bathrooms but so many other key policies that keep away women from the sea. There is gender imbalance in staffing and training. Consider that women in the maritime industry account for only one or two per cent of the world’s 1.25 million seafarers, according to the International Labour Organisation. The men I work with are great; they encourage me and push me towards achieving my goals. Actually, working with men has helped me understand women better. The men in my workplace affirm, encourage me to be more assertive and don’t compete against me. This has helped me look at women not as competition, but team players in the same frontier. If you weren’t a marine pilot, what would you be doing? I would be working in the fashion industry. I would want to build an international brand that showcases African fabric and authentic designs. Tell me about your blog? Is it an escape from the unwavering tide in your career? I have always loved writing and fashion. Running my blog keeps me normal. I get to wear beautiful pieces and get photographed —which is a world away from my job. Sometimes I wish I could run this blog anonymously and that way I would be able to write about the deep-rooted issues of my life. You wrote extensively about rejection on your blog. Would you comment on that? We were 9 students who were awarded the same scholarship, 8 are male and 1 is female. Part of our course requirements is practical skills in form of 18 months of sea time. All the men in our class have successfully secured sea time on board ships since been offered the opportunity. I have been rejected by various companies in my quest to meet the board requirements for 18 months of sea time so that I can graduate to a captain, 1st in command. My applications often come back with rejections based on my gender which can be very frustrating. Companies are afraid of getting into sexual harassment (legal) suits so they prefer not to hire women. The blog gives me an off-my-chest platform where I can share my frustrations. I have however learnt to be patient. Good things come to those who wait. What does your family feel about your career choice? My family is very understanding. They have been very supportive. It’s only when I started my initiative, ‘Against the Tide’ that my dad became a little concerned. Be on the lookout for the official launch of this initiative. Tell me more about the initiative Against the Tide is my own initiative to see a reasonable gender balance in the maritime industry. Although in its infancy, I want to advocate for policies that favour both genders and allows for equal opportunities in access to opportunities in the industry. I also intend to mentor young girls into believing in themselves and having the courage to get into the profession. I have been speaking to students at various schools about the importance of believing in themselves. You met the President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta. How was it like? The most impressive thing about meeting the president the second time was that he remembered me from the first time we met. On this instance, he commended me on our work before

Twitter Chat with Olebogeng Sentsho: The importance of women owned businesses in male-dominated industries (Oct. 20)

women owned businesses olebogeng sentsho

Women have been making their way through traditional male professions for a while now. The latest industry to be tackled by women is mining. How is this move affecting the industry and the pioneering women that have decided to take it on? Join us Thursday Oct. 20th for a twitter chat with Olebogeng Sentsho, founder of Yeabo Mining, a 100% black-woman owned business that focuses on waste management in the mines and also offers administrative and financial services related to mining. If you’re a woman looking to break into a male-dominated industry, a swag-assisting man knowing how to support women in these initiatives or just curious about boss women in South Africa, then you should definitely be a part of the chat. Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SheHiveJoburg to ask your questions and participate in the discussion. Topics that we’ll cover: Why male-dominated industries need more women The perks and set-backs of an all women owned business Challenges of being the only woman in the room How to reduce gender imbalances in more industries Advice to women trying to break into the industry, and men who want to help them Twitter chat details Date: Thursday Oct. 20, 2016 Time: 8am NYC // 1pm Lagos // 2pm Joburg Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SheHiveJoburg About Olebogeng Sentsho Olebogeng Sentsho is a serial entrepreneur with interests in mining. She is currently the Founder and Head of Operations at Yeabo Mining, a strategic waste management company with plants in and around Limpopo. Olebogeng studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Business Administration. Mrs Sentsho is also the Founding Chief Executive officer of the newly founded Mining Innovation Initiative of South Africa: a non-profit organisation of businesses and individuals in mining and mining services. MIISA works to promote, enhance, innovate and improve the mining climate in South Africa by catalysing innovation and promoting thought leadership and mining development to the general public, protecting the rights of mining businesses, and assisting these businesses to improve their sales and profits while actively enhancing their contribution to the communities in which they exist. A recipient of the inaugural “Outstanding woman in Mining Award” at the Youth in Mining Business awards, The Head of the Mining and Technical Engineering Services Sector at the Progressive Youth in Business Organisation and a panelist at the recently held “Youth in Mining Procurement Transformation Summit”, Olebogeng is passionate about investment, the African economy, mining and socially responsible business practices. She believes that a more structured and Afro-centric approach to mining will grow the African economy and enable Africa to benefit from the minerals it rightfully owns. Olebogeng believes in the dawn of Africa’s secondary economy driven by industry and the green economy.”    

Chido Munei: Don’t be afraid to do things your way

”Few women work in mining, technology, transport and the construction industries, even worse is that fewer women are CEO’s of large companies. I often have people asking me how I ended up in a male-dominated industry, I just smile. They wouldn’t have asked me that question if I was a man.” This what my friend, Chido Munei said when I interviewed her about her role in construction. I wanted to know about the challenges she’s faced working in a job that many consider to be for men. Chido studied architecture at The National University of Science & Technology and currently works as a senior architect for a top internationally-recognised architectural firm in Johannesburg, South Africa. Architecture requires a lot of dedication and hard work. This coupled with the inflated egos of men in school caused some of Chido’s friends to drop out. Chido talks about the important of women being as vocal as men and asking for what we deserve. What made you choose to study architecture? Originally, I chose it because I always admired it as a very creative profession. We spend most of our lives in buildings, you know. The fact that you could have something that you’ve designed in real life and people admiring it everyday was appealing. I figured it would be a good career option because the opportunities for business and the pay-offs are quite fulfilling. What’s more, at the end of the day you are creatively satisfied and proud of your work too. How did you make it as a woman in a male-dominated field? Does your gender have an impact on your performance? One of the biggest challenges for me was breaking the perceptions that certain jobs are for “males” because they require skill sets which are more associated with men than women. I believe the confidence to complete my degree in the first place is what helped me get ahead. Most of my male classmates had inflated confidence levels that I found intimidating. Majority of my capable female friends dropped out because of fear of the challenges and intimidation. Another thing that I’m really proud of myself for is how successful I’ve been at working and negotiating my way up. It can be intimidating to ask for a promotion or raise in the first place. But, I’ve been so determined that my hard work has paid off and got me to a senior architectural position. This has empowered me and given me the courage to conquer regardless of how male-dominated my industry is. So NO!, my gender has not hindered my performance in any way. You too can do this, ladies! What advice would you give to women trying to break into a “male-dominated” field? First, make sure you know and understand your field well. Competition is tough, and to be a success you need to market yourself and your brand well. Get as much experience as you can, both in the office and from construction sites. Education is not just that which you receive in school, but the skills and knowledge required of an architect is broad. I’ll advice the following; Take the initiative and be assertive: Don’t be afraid to do things your way. Believe in yourself, and in doing things your way to get your ideas out there. Practice your emotional intelligence skills because developing a thick skin and sense of humor will help get you further. Speak out and ignore the stereotypes: If you take this personally, you wont go far. There will always be people that will try to pull you down but learn to hold your head high, and just be who you’ve got to be. Men can be very vocal about what they want and we need to do same. Make it clear that you know you deserve what you’re asking for. Network, support and share ideas with other women: Surround yourself with both men and women, who are smarter than you. Participate in women forums and groups. As women, we should provide ongoing support, understanding and opportunities and in the process make new friends too. Empowering each other helps us build personal success stories in such industries. Engaging with people who inspire you, helps you develop confidence and self-respect. Get a mentor: When you have someone who encourages you to reach your full potential, you have the best business teacher and friend in the world. You can learn a lot from those already doing great things.