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Head: Real Estate Finance Debt Solutions Management, Corporate and Investment Banking
Why is “Why she leads” important?
I come from humble beginnings where female role models in business weren’t visible. Leadership visibility is necessary to encourage young people to aspire and be courageous in their own lives, despite their circumstances. “Why she leads” is an opportunity to elevate the visibility of female leaders. African women, in particular, must play a meaningful role in their own emancipation, whether in a boardroom, classroom, at home or elsewhere.
“Aim to be exceptional at every task and demonstrate your worth through actions. Always act with integrity, own your failures, find the silver lining, never miss deadlines, and make sure you look good doing it.”
What have been the biggest contributors to your success?
I’m blessed with a supportive mother, and a supportive husband who understands my career drive. Maintaining a positive attitude, focus, resilience, and hard work have also been crucial for meeting my goals and achieving success. And aligning with good mentors or go-to people. Success also comes from being who you really are, being authentic and not just a version of yourself – it frees you to focus on the big things and not sweat the small things.
What are the challenges that women leaders face, especially in financial services?
Unconscious bias – a nurturing leader could be ‘too soft to get the job done’, while being assertive and decisive could be ‘too bossy’. Bias fades but it requires a demonstration of resilience and positive outcomes. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg sums it up well: men are given opportunities based on potential, while women are given opportunities based on what has been delivered. That needs to change.
What is the value of mentorship in the workplace?
Mentorship is a virtuous circle – all of us need mentors and we should offer mentorship and guidance to those coming up. The right conversations at the right time, can be highly impactful and influential. All leaders should be responsible for nurturing an abundant mindset and influencing the development of strong future leaders.
How can male corporate leaders foster and grow women leaders?
Male corporate leaders have arguably the most impactful role to play in enabling gender equality in the workplace. They should take intentional steps to create equal opportunities for women to succeed and thrive in the workplace – from the moment a woman enters the workforce, way before she assumes a leadership position and regardless of her personal life. It’s about finding the best people (male or female) for the job, so our organisations thrive.
What would you say to another woman thinking of changing fields because her industry is male dominated?
Be guided by your passion and don’t relinquish your power as a woman or a professional, because anything worthwhile takes sacrifice and patience. Be aspirant, push yourself forward and be courageous – be an example.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome?
I don’t believe I have, but there was a time when some opinions about my style of leadership or delivery affected me. Thankfully, I took some advice on board, and learned that not all opinions matter.
What advice do you have for young women starting their careers?
Be kind to yourself and those around you and find your balance early in your career. It’s controversial but I don’t believe in having it all. If you try to be the best at everything, you end up being mediocre or burnt out. Accept the choices you make to progress your career, enable your life with support (not guilt) and outsource the little things.