To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, CIPS asked women in procurement in Africa for their insights on topics ranging from the biggest challenge they've faced to their biggest inspiration.
Jennifer Atanga Akongbota, supply chain manager at Coastal Development Authority, Ghana and CIPS West Africa Congress representative
Maryanne Karanja, supply chain professional
Faith Mashele, head of procurement centre of excellence at Nedbank, South Africa and chairperson of the CIPS Gauteng branch
Colette Yende, procurement executive at Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, South Africa
Julinda Garus-Ôas, procurement manager at Namibia Water Corporation
Lomakhosi W. Magagula, senior public procurement capacity building officer at Eswatini Public Procurement Regulatory Agency
Joy Njau, group head of supply chain – subsidiaries at Equity Bank Group, Africa
Ayanda Nteta, director at Pula Research and Consulting Services
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?
JA (pictured): “The constant struggle against prejudices just because one is a woman. You constantly have to prove your worth before you are recognised or valued.”
MK: “My current challenge, as a seasoned, mature and well-established corporate leader is the ‘double bind’ women in leadership generally face. I am either perceived as too ‘strong’, too ‘forthright’, simply because I am a woman leader. Oftentimes I sense the need to increase my ‘likeability index’, to achieve my goals.”
FM (pictured): “Being a woman in leadership has not always been easy as one has to constantly work twice as hard when compared to male counterparts.”
JN: “Developing strong enough boundaries and enforcing them every day of my life is an essential skill.”
Who has inspired you?
CY (pictured): “My father for his wisdom, his calmness, his teachings and love.”
JG: “My parents have greatly inspired me a lot. They allowed me to follow my own path, especially my father through his open mindedness about life and positive outlook to keep thinking of the best, his continuous motivation, love and care. I’m forever grateful to have them in my life.”
LM (pictured): “My mentor, Tom Tagoe. Tom boosted my confidence in the procurement field and motivated me to become one of the very few women who are qualified in my country. He literally unleashed the drive to finish the CIPS course and to eventually do my Masters.”
JA: “Stella Addo, CIPS Ghana country manager.”
What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?
AN (pictured): “The advice I would give to my younger self is to never lose your voice. In the spaces that I operate, the female voice is not encouraged. It is often silenced. This makes it even more challenging for those young girls, like I once was, to break those barriers.
FM: “You are human and you are bound to make mistakes. Therefore, when you make mistakes, dust yourself off and look at what other options and avenues are available. Change the plan if you must but keep going.”
MK (pictured): “Overthinking drives fear of change, fear of standing out and it fans ‘imposter syndrome’. The advice I would give my younger self is not to overthink what you will be and do at a particular age. Embrace who you are and be courageous. You are in control, you are in the driver’s seat.”
CY: “To choose my battles wisely. I used to fight everything I did not believe in and later learnt to listen more before exhausting myself in unnecessary battles.”
What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?
JN (pictured): “Some of the most powerful leadership traits I admire in women are where they are leading by example and especially in stressful times such as these. If leaders can uncover the lessons of dealing with fear, they not only become adept at navigating their organisations through tough times, but they also become sources of inspiration to those around them.”
LM: “A successful woman is one who finds contentment in supporting other fellow women to succeed in their endeavors. I deem a good leader to be one who allows her subordinates to be innovative, to take initiative and supports them in any way possible.”
AN: “A good leader is an aware leader. One who is not afraid to challenge the status quo and be challenged. A good leader is a leader for women. One that creates those spaces for women to thrive.”
Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?
JG (pictured): “‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do. It always seems impossible until it’s done’ – Nelson Mandela.”
MK: “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
FM: “Be the type of energy that no matter where you go, you always add value to the spaces and lives around you.”
What do you #ChooseToChallenge?
JA: “I #ChooseToChallenge the notion that women should play the second fiddle. Women can also lead or become leaders for others, including men, to follow.”
FM: “I choose to challenge the narrative that women don’t always support other women.”
AN: “I #ChooseToChallenge that female voice… let it be heard.”
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