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.
Popularly known as Miss Manjo on the Twitter streets, Theodorah Manjo is a digital marketer and online influencer with a thing for helping the unemployed better themselves.
Her timeline exudes positivity and humility and through her social media content, her passion for guiding and assisting the unemployed through knowledge sharing and upliftment is hard to miss.
In this interview, she talks about building and maintaining a brand online and how to put your best foot forward with your CV.
You are essentially Twitter famous, how do you get to 63k+ followers?
I came across a cool social media team called The Hand of Sas (now known as HOS) about two years ago and it was like having an online family. We spoke about everything social media, online etiquette and how to have an “online voice”.
I learned how to speak to “strangers” in a familiar way, showing my personality and allowing people to be a part of my life even when they didn’t know.
I started falling in love with the aspect of being able to reach & speak to people in provinces I have never been to, and it expanded to Africa. I’m now part of a team called #AfricaTweetChat where we discuss all things digital media with people from all corners of this continent. It makes me so happy!
Building a brand really starts with being relatable, following and talking to people and understanding that everyone will always be “strong” behind a screen & you shouldn’t take what people say online to heart because you WILL break.
Don’t be reckless, if you say something online, make sure that you will be able to stand by that even 6 years from now because once it’s out there, somebody has already screen-grabbed it.
How do you use your influencer status to continue to build your brand?
It is all relationship building, making connections and again, being relatable to your audience. The biggest thing is being true to what your story is, you are either a food enthusiast, a budding entrepreneur, an artist or a student going through the motions.
People follow you because they can ‘relate’ or they can learn from you and enjoy your content.
I have always been vocal on unemployment, social media characters/influencers and how to conduct yourself online. Through my content on those topics, people got to know what makes me tick.
Yes, my content varies – I have jokes, I have rants, but most of all I engage with my followers. I want to know what other people are busy with, what makes their day and how I can connect with them NOW so that later, we can have a meaningful relationship.
It has proven to be amazing and I have met & befriended a lot of wonderful people online.
Hmm, what a thought-provoking question. What’s my story? I want to be able to reach and teach at least one person a month, at least ten people in a year. I want my presence online to be relevant and make sense. It’s not about me, it’s about us – how do WE get better at this life thing together?!
Celebrate yourself. Are you happy, are you giving and are you helping someone be a better version of themselves? – These are my heart notes to myself daily.
What is your strategy for online brand preservation?
Think ahead! I want to be big in my industry, I want kids one day – will what I put out there make my future baby girl cringe? Will it result in me having a meeting with my CEO about being too expressive? If questioned about what I tweet personally, will I be able to look at the person in the eye, and stand by what I said without quivering?.
I am still a person at the end of the day, things make me angry, people make me angry but what will this mean for me tomorrow morning? Is this who I want SA & Africa to think I am?
Practice what you preach or change your speech. And sometimes, there is beauty in silence!
How did the passion to guide and assist the unemployed come about?
I started working at a recruitment agency while I was in between jobs. I only stayed three months because my spirit didn’t really agree with how recruitment worked in this particular place and also, I am a creative so I felt like I was boxed.
The whole trend was that they would find people already in employment and headhunt them when in reality there are thousands of people who are unemployed and have the right skills.
Through my frustrations of not finding candidates for my roles, I created a Facebook page and I wanted to explore a medium that had a lot of “word of mouth” but with individuals who may not all be employed, and that was how “I Need Someone Who…JOBS” was created on a Tuesday afternoon, without my team leader knowing.
It was a risk in that I would probably get kicked out of my job or receive a warning, but my gut didn’t let me down; I was ready to fight for this cause even if meant I would have to be moved to an admin position due to disobedience.
This is where I discovered just how much heart I had for those who were unemployed, because a month ago, I didn’t know where to look for a job, nor did I have the means to, but thanks to friends and connections I was lead to this place that has allowed me to change potentially thousands of South African peoples’ lives.
When one reads a job advert, what are some of the red flags to be mindful of?
Company name and the grammar: Most things will stand out like using small letters at the beginning of a sentence or addressing names with small letters, sentences that use “WhatsApp language”.
Method of contact: The biggest one is the fax. Who still uses a fax? Why would a company email you just for them to ask you to respond via fax?
Contact…: “Contact Miss Mary or Mr. Victor” – nobody addresses people with a Miss or Mr and ‘first name’.
What are your top 5 tips for putting together a CV?
Keep your CV clean, check your grammar & punctuation
2. Make sure you put your role, company name & time spent there
3. Bullet point all your duties, don’t be brief. In place of ‘admin’, say ‘took minutes at meetings, facilitated in budgets for company events, scheduled and arranged meetings etc. If you don’t sell yourself, who will?
4. References – make sure your references KNOW that they are your references; make sure they will speak WELL of you. Do not put your manager who was trying to get you out, you will never find a job. Rather find another senior person who worked with you to vouch for your work ethic.
5. Only add relevant things to your CV. Some people like to add hobbies, my hobbies of dancing will not add value to an Accountant position. So why put it in?
For people with no experience, what should be highlighted on a CV?
Make your personal summary (two to three sentences right at the top) tell the employer about your capabilities.
Add what skills you have and how they will assist in the advertised role. Align your skills with the job spec.
Add achievements, community work – this CV will be more of personality, skills, and traits rather than of your experience.
How do I best present my experience?
Don’t shortchange yourself, if you worked with your account director aligning strategies as an account manager, that is a skill & experience you would want people to know about.
In your comprehensive CV, make sure you detail the IMPORTANT aspects of your roles in such a way that a promotion in your next role is an obvious step up.
Most if not all recruiters will search via keywords, so include the important terms to be found easier.
What are your top tips to keeping a job
The biggest tip is basic and biblical, whatever work you do, work with EXCELLENCE and you shall be rewarded. It may not be in a week, or a year – but one day you will be grateful that you always gave your 110% even when you felt that nobody appreciated your efforts.
You should also follow the following tips:
Have a learning spirit.
Volunteer to help. Even those tedious admin duties, do them and do them well. The more you learn the greater you will be when you get to the next level of your career.
Never talk about your work/colleagues on social media. It becomes messy even if they aren’t on your platforms, people are connected.
Vumile Msweli is an international speaker, renowned coach 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.
Vumile has worked in Europe, Asia and across the African continent for reputable multinational institutions including Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank and Vodafone.
She is an award-winning businesswoman who has received honors such as the Women’s’ Economic Forum’s Woman of Excellence Award, named 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media, the Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans.
Vumi has also been awarded the Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category. As we celebrate women’s month in South Africa, Vumi talks about what she’s learned from globetrotting and her driving force to start her business.
Tell us about your experience studying in various countries and how its helped you
I am a vehement advocate for education and its ability to transform lives. I also believe that traveling is one of the best educations you can give yourself.
The combination of expanding my worldview through both formal and informal learning by studying in different countries has been invaluable to be me. It helped me realize how I am a global citizen with proudly African roots.
Living abroad also shifted my thinking to want to excel at a global level whilst keeping my local values. I also learned that where I was born doesn’t define where I belong.
How did studying in West Africa change your perspective about business and career?
Being an African, one tends to think of the entire continent as home but West Africa definitely has an energy like no place on earth. There are a palpable entrepreneurial spirit and an optimistic view of taking control and accountability for your life as a pose to making excuses as to why you aren’t where you could be.
The competition is also very tough, you look at Nigeria and realize that the population of Lagos alone is half the population of my country South Africa.
There are also some infrastructural challenges such as energy but no one sits around waiting for the government to resolve these. Everyone gets on with it and takes it upon themselves to excel despite these challenges.
Being in West Africa imprinted in me the importance of a diverse revenue stream, the importance of being able to sustain oneself in a cash economy as a pose to being enslaved by credit for survival.
West Africans exude an apologetic confidence for their existence, their desires, and the pursuit of their dreams. Being surrounded by a culture like that leaves you no choice but to walk with your head a little taller, work harder and make no excuses as you toil towards your own goals.
What prompted you to start your business – Hesed Consulting?
I found myself having coaching conversations with friends and acquaintances on various career-related topics and soon realized that I had acquired some niche knowledge.
Especially around accelerating my career, what seemed to me to be a simple strategic career or finance play was a non-discussion amongst my peers.
I thoroughly enjoy seeing people transform through a shift in perception. Marianne Williamson aptly said: “ a miracle is a shift in perception”.Certainly, I wanted to be a part of that miracle.
Vumi is truly a teacher at heart, I love sharing what I have learned. So the look on someone’s face as they utter “I never thought of it that way before” and then proceed to change the direction of their lives because of that conversation gives me great joy.
Being a part of that sacred space of sharing tools and experiences that help my clients leapfrog their learning and accelerate their careers and businesses truly makes my heart sing. That’s what prompted me to start Hesed and it’s the reason why Hesed is still in existence 6 years later.
At Hesed, we work with individuals and entrepreneurs to accelerate their careers and businesses. We do this through workshops; training; coaching and consulting. We have a pan-African approach; global exposure whilst remaining locally relevant.
I guess what makes our team rather unique is that we have executive experience across sectors so we understand the pressures of both corporate and entrepreneurship. Also, many of our teams have worked and lived in different countries and continents.
That cultural richness allows for diversity in thinking when tailor making solutions for our clients.
How did you go from being a trained accountant working in an international financial institution to a becoming an international speaker and accelerator coach?
I had the scholarship to study my Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting Sciences but soon realized after completing that it definitely was not my passion.
Actually, I recalled working at an Investment Bank early in my career and instead of focusing on the financial audit work I was assigned to found myself in the customer care department worrying about clients. I was more concerned about the organization’s strategy and operational ability to service them better.
Needless to say, my career shifted towards being people-centric and that has never changed. It just expanded to their strategies for success and how they can operate better in their careers and personal lives.
How valuable is it to be African and think global?
I often say I am a proudly African global citizen. Thinking global allows us to elevate our standards; fast track our learning; bring international best practices to the continent whilst expanding our reach to the whole world.
Thinking global in my opinion should not be in exchange for our what makes us African. Being African allows us to see the world through a certain lens and more often than not have a shared experience such as valuing Ubuntu; a tangible sense of community, a rich heritage, and culture.
This is an advantage for us because selfish capitalism is no longer sustainable as a means of doing business. This is an opportunity for the whole world to bask in Africa’s rising.
Who are your mentors and what life lessons have you’ve learned from them?
Lillian Barnard taught me that femininity and executive power are not mutually exclusive that being feminine is a power within itself.
Sindi Mabaso-Koyane has taught me that there is indescribable joy in being of service to others. By asking how you can serve allows you to rise to the occasion of fulfilling your purpose.
Buyile Ngcobo reminds me constantly that being my most authentic self is the fuel to propel me to my destiny.
How do you set goals for yourself? Do you use a one year, 5-year plan, or the traditional vision, board?
I am a very visual person so vision boards work well for me using images and words to draw experiences to me is one of my favorite things.
In my bedroom, my vision board is framed and is actually one of the first things I see when I wake up. My vision boards offer inspiration for me as I pursue my goals and lofty dreams.
You are constantly building networks across the continent, how does this translate to business for you?
Not as fast as you would think. I am a big believer in genuine relationship building. People can very often sense if you are coming from a transactional place or being authentic. This may be the slow route but people do business with people.
So I take time to really get to know the people I engage and in turn, they get to know my heart, energy, and personality. Thus they have the ability to vouch for not just a brand but a woman they know and trust.
You’ve been to 50/51 countries in the world. Where was your favorite place, and why?
This feels like a trick question! I like different places for different reasons. I enjoy Bali, Indonesia for the simplicity and warmness of its people who will share their last cent to make you feel at home.
I enjoy Lagos, Nigeria because it’s insomniac energy inspires the entrepreneur in me to dream bigger and work enthusiastically towards my goals.
Prague, the Czech Republic for its architectural beauty makes me feel like I am in a painting.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa because it’s my home. From the breathtaking valley of a thousand hills, it’s rich history to its warm beaches all year round to my mother’s cooking.
What drives Vumi?
Leaving a legacy drives me. It was sagely said that we die twice. Once when they put you in the ground. Second when they utter your name for the last time. It’s that second death that drives me what can I do in life to make life easier for the next person that the impact of my existence may be felt long after my body is in the ground.
What’s the one advice you’d give to your younger self?
Vumile you are enough.
It’s unbelievable how enough you are. You are God’s child, definitely one of his favorites. Your destiny is larger than any of your wildest imaginings.
So go ahead and be the fulfillment of your wildest dreams you can imagine yourself to be.
If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your story with us.
A lot has been said about women entrepreneurs in Kenya.
Women have distinguished themselves and we have trailblazers like Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Industries, Flora Mutahi of Melvin’s Tea, Gina Din Kariuki of Gina Din Communications, JudithOwingar of AkiraChix, Lorna Rutto of Eco posts, Ruth Mwanzia of Koola Waters, Shikha Vincent of Shikazuri and Michelle Ntalami of Marini Naturals to name a few.
Entrepreneurship is mainly about business skills, determination, resilience, networking, and social impact. Women are working their way into this area and are slowly but surely making headway.
A lot of focus and support has been given to women entrepreneurs through grants, training, access to finance and favorable government policies like Access to Government Procurement (AGPO) to name a few. More women are encouraged to participate in this sector.
Women in the corporate world have an uphill task to get their place and break all the glass ceilings. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, in her book LEAN IN, gives insights into what the life of a woman in corporate America is and how to maneuver it.
According to Fortune.com, there were 27 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies as at January 2018. How about corporate Kenya?
I admire women in the corporate world because apart from the normal barriers they encounter and overcome, boys club mentality, patriarchy, high technical skills, experience, glass ceiling mentality (Gender stereotyping), sexual harassment, inflexible working conditions and integrity.
The corporate world is harsh and cutthroat. The impact is mostly measured in terms of PROFITS and PROFITS. Only recently have corporates embraced a wider scale to measure the impact of CEO’s to include social impact, teamwork, employee innovation and customer retention to name a few.
This shift gives women a chance to shine as their natural skills of collaboration and teamwork are an asset.
Entrepreneurship is forgiving on the requirements of higher education and experience. A person with a basic education can quickly become a business mogul. However, in the corporate world, experience and education have a lot of weight.
The current trend to consider leadership, softer skills and strategic leadership has made it more accessible for women.
Due to gender roles and social pressure, many women in the past were not in a position to access higher education and therefore did not get promotions to enable them to rise up.
Currently, women are taking up chances to improve their education hence giving them more edge to compete in the corporate world. Experience is a matter of time; men had an advantage of this. In the last 20 years, women have proved that given a fair chance they too climb the corporate ladder right up to the top.
Why do we need women in CEO positions?
People in the corporate world manage a large amount of money and direct how it is used. Gender diversity has also been proven over the years to increase profits and performance of corporations.
Therefore, further inclusion of women has been proved to attract talent in the boardrooms where innovative solutions are created. Invariably more women-friendly products and policies emerge from companies that are managed by women. After all, women are 50% of the consumers of products and services.
The simple fundamental reason why women should be in the corporate world is that it’s fair and inclusive to do so.
In Kenya, we have many distinguished ladies at the helm of corporates and organizations. This has increased recently, but to date, only 2 women lead corporations listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange i.e. Maria Msiska of BOC (until 2016) and Nasim Devji of DTB Bank. We can do better.
Here are examples of Women CEO’s in Kenya:
Jennifer Ririais a pioneer of women in CEO position and has been holding this and similar positions in the microfinance and banking industry for 20 years. She is the CEO of Kenya Women Holdings that has a subsidiary Kenya Women microfinance Bank which is a leading bank for women entrepreneurs. She is a Ph.D. holder and has a Degree and Master degree as well.
Stella Njunge: CEO of Sanlam Life, part of Sanlam Kenya Group. She has over 15 years’ experience in the insurance industry, a CPA(K), CPS(K), and holds a degree and masters. Stella also has over 16 years’ experience in Insurance.
Catherine Karimi: CEO of APA Life part of Apollo Group a leading insurer in Kenya. She has 18 years’ experience in Insurance industry, a degree, postgraduate certificate in Actuarial Studies, and is a member of Chartered Insurers (UK).
Rita Kavashe: is the CEO of General Motors East Africa, Kenya with 35 years’ experience working at GM. She has a degree and postgraduate certificates and rose through the ranks.
Phyllis Wakiaga:is theCEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers. She has a law degree, Higher Diploma in Law and Human Resource Management, Master Degrees in International Trade and Investment Law and Business Administration.
There are many more female CEO’s in Kenya. The common items in their profiles are EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE. This is a true testament that education is an equalizer.
Given equal opportunity and based on merit, women can excel and are excelling in the corporate world. Girls need to be encouraged to plan their career path early to help them reach the top CEO positions to bridge the current gap.
I look forward to more women taking up the CEO roles and reducing the barriers to getting there.
Got an article you’d like to share with us? Share your story with us here.
This means, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.”
Currently, it’s women’s month in South Africa but I think the party shouldn’t start and end there. The month should celebrate and honour women in our entire continent, This should include women who are powerhouses and moguls, whether in communities and the business world.
Let’s talk about some history. On August 9, 1956, thousands of women marched to Pretoria. It was to fight for their rights to freedom of movement without documentation, referred to as passes, along other segregation laws. In commemoration of women’s rights today, questions still remain debated over the role of women in society. This especially concerns women in positions of power. Six decades later, women continue to fight. This time, we fight a different fight.
Evidently, we have MotherlandMoguls who carry a dumbbell with one hand and a mine of gold in the other. Today, we want to celebrate not just the woman in South Africa, but in Africa. She is an instinct-driven entrepreneur, who will be featured on Destiny Magazine, Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman and the likes. She is on her way to becoming the leading lady of a nation. She has a vision, creates networks and positively influences other young women.
Now, let’s take a look at 6 young women killing it in South Africa:
Mpho Khati of Indlovukazi is a vibrant woman who celebrates herself through modelling. She invented the word ‘thick-thighing’ as a plus size model and is also an Instagram influencer.
Mpho’s to watch for.
Palesa Kgasane is a young lady in her early twenties, born in cape town and raised in Bloemfontein. Amazingly, she’s the curator at Mzansimoodboard, a writer, and creative director.
She also designs her own clothes.
Khanya Mzongwana (aka Yulu Ishii)
It is said that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and she makes it her business. Khanya, the foodie entrepreneur, is called the queen of pop-up restaurants.
She’s the co-owner of Off The Wall pop-up restaurant. She is also a recipe developer and food stylist.
Panashe Chigumadzi is the author of Sweet Medicine. She’s also the founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine, a black feminist platform for young black women coming of age in post-apartheid South Africa.
Also, Panashe is a storyteller interested in the narratives of black and African women.
As a television and radio broadcaster, Tumelo started locally with a woman’s programme called Sistas on Soweto TV. She moved to being a news anchor at the SABC.
Now, she’s gracing the worldwide screens with being an international news anchor and correspondent for Russia today TV.
Lumka Msibi is a 25-year-old qualified and international award–winning Aeronautical Engineer. She’s a global speaker and Entrepreneur from Soweto in South Africa.
Regardless of the system in places that may hold women down, Lumka rises above limits. She creates the most compelling content, business industries, and communities. Commendably, this woman rises above societal pressure that dictates what a woman shouldn’t talk about.
Here’s the thing
A woman alone is success personified and she matters. She is not a statistic but she creates ground-breaking statistics. The stereotype that women are catty and always fight each other is old and needs to go.
As women, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we’re flawless. We need to create circles of support platforms to generate a revolution of power among sisters.
Now, Motherland Moguls, be your own kind of woman this month. Your career goals and strategies are valid. Start improving your business, and yourself! Kill it and make your entity your mark.