On the strides women have made in their careers so far.
Women have come a long way, in one generation, from our parents’ generation; where teaching & nursing were the main options. Today, even internationally male-dominated fields like piloting and political leadership have women at the helm. Going to show, that great strides have been made in opening most careers to both genders.
What this year’s theme, ‘balance for better’ means to her.
It means recognizing that as human beings, specifically women, we have various needs and that Gods purpose for our lives is multi-faceted. We need to balance these different areas to feel healthy and deeply fulfilled. For her, these are broadly spirituality, relationships, work, fitness, diet and hobbies.
What’s her idea of a power woman? One who manages to successfully balance -and thrive, in love and care for herself, her family, her work and her community.
Which Woman she can think of who makes her wonder: “How does she do it?”. “There are very many women I admire…but when I drill down, there are few who I think have achieved the balance that I consider ‘ideal’. I caveat my next statements with the fact that God has a plan for each of us, and there are things that are well beyond our control. However, one woman I admire, and think has achieved “my ideal balance”, is Joyce-Ann Wainaina. She also happens to be a good friend, so I know some of the reality behind media coverage. She was the first African Woman Regional CEO for Citibank. Recently she was promoted to a new global role – Head of Global Subsidiaries Group Sub-Saharan Africa. Citibank has been her only employer and Joyce-Ann has diligently worked her way up, at one point making a difficult decision to leave Kenya and some of her family members for a couple of years; on promotion to her first CEO role in Zambia. All this while being a supportive wife, sister and friend to many, raising three children who are thriving, and making time for herself and her own hobbies, such as producing honey, and wider community goals. An inspiring superwoman by my definition.”
What did she dream of doing as a little girl? All she knew, is she wanted to be in a career that made a direct positive impact on people’s lives. “I thought at first a doctor, but that was quickly ruled out after a short internship at a hospital. I wasn’t tough enough.” Instead, she went into education, followed by Human Resource Management. Now, she helps people make property investment decisions, or manage their property assets, to maximize the value they receive from them.
Challenges women face in her sector. “A few years ago, I transitioned from employment in a corporate professional services environment to running my own real estate agency – Realty Plus Limited.” The real estate sector is a fairly gender balanced environment, but in the spectrum of activity, men still dominate the development and consultancy space; while women are more engaged in agency services – property selling, letting and management. I wouldn’t say we encounter any specific challenges as women, apart from the usual traditional biases/attitudes that exist across all sectors.”
Would you say enough is being done to promote women in the workplace?
She feels that most progressive employers provide equal opportunities for both genders to advance in the workplace; while recognizing & accommodating some personal priorities of their team members. Seeing as women’s special needs often revolve around their homes and young children especially soon after childbirth, she likes initiatives such as flexible working hours or opportunities to occasionally work from home. She feels more could be done around availing private spaces for lactating mothers.
What would she do to mentor the next generation of power women?
“I think in our generation, the focus was heavily tilted towards gender equality and women advancing in the workplace, boardrooms and the political arena. The results are evident and there is still room for more. However, I feel the messaging did not adequately address how to balance those advances with the other natural desires of women; marriage, motherhood and self-care through the different seasons of womanhood. It is possible to do well at all these things, but it would be helpful to be guided from experienced women on the general ideals and requirements of each, and how to manage them all simultaneously.”
Her advice to a woman starting out in her industry.
Although there are many players in the industry, there are some key gaps in meeting customers’ needs. Knowledge of your strengths and proper research is critical in understanding how to deploy your skillset to fill these gaps.