At the tender age of 19 I got my drivers license, I would have loved to have gotten it at the age of 18, but my father wasn’t keen on it.
There I was navigating traffic in my township, trying to find spaces between taxi drivers and using the horn when to show my displeasure.
The reaction from most people would always be shock and amusement over this ‘little girl’ who firstly, could drive, when in my context not many women drove back in those days. Secondly , I found time to challenge taxis on the road. Little did I know that this would be an effective metaphor for my life in the corporate world.
As a woman on the road to a C suite role you come across many moments, when people see you as a little girl out of place. Inevitably you have to find your voice and navigate through, it is never easy, but it can and is being done more often now than ever before.
In isizulu it is said ‘ Indlela ibuzwa kwabaphambili’ meaning “You ask the directions to your destination from those who have travelled ahead of you.”
For this reason I want you Miss 20 something to take a short cut to your destination.
The best career advice I ever got was not about work but about how my work will fit into my life. My older sister told me as a woman with a career you need to decide your career strategy early on. You may want to have children, if you do you need to decide where they fit in your career plan. I thought it was odd advice but decided to work with it anyway.
If you have kids early on you may get left behind by your high flyer friends as they will have capacity that you wont to drive career goals. If you wait too late you might never find the time to have them so make family decisions based on what you want not what the job demands because the job will always demand.
In the boardroom l observed that many women don’t have a voice, not because they don’t have anything to contribute but because they feel they need to give their views only when asked.
When you are given a seat at a table, own it in full, own your voice and share your perspective more often than not it is not an angle most men have thought about but if it’s a good idea they will listen to it.
Don’t be afraid to unleash your voice and let it be heard especially if it’s something you feel passionately about.
Speak for your work and don’t expect it to always speak for you.
Women are the most committed and diligent workers and tend to be deeply hurt when the rewards associated with their efforts are not recognized. If I had a R1000 for every time I have heard a woman say I will let my work speak for me I would be a Gupta.
Your work is impressive yes, but speak about it and tell people what you, also tell them the expectations you have. Men speak directly about their salary and bonus expectations whereas women tend to be coy and secretly resent unfair treatment.
Finally, I want to tell you that authenticity is all that and then some, don’t try be a guy cause you aren’t, you are better than that. In the world of work diversity is an unapparelled asset bring your feminine side to the boardroom table and be you.