Watch: Women show plenty of mettle in leadership

Some of the speakers and organisers of the 2017 Women in Leadership Conference, which took place at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre, on August 8. From left: Ilse Immelman (from SSI), Charlene Lamb (On Spot Communications), Charlene Lackay, Yvonne Mfolo, Dr Janine Joubert, Susan Quist and Dr Feroza Mansoor.

Presented by Shared Services Investment (SSI), the conference took place at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, on August 8.

This annual conference, now in its sixth year, addresses the challenges women face today in the corporate world through an examination of the real-life experiences of successful South African women.

The theme of the conference was “Resilience”, which focused on the leadership value of resilience for organisational and individual longevity.

It also created a platform for women in leadership to come together and engage around issues of diversity, gender equality and collaboration.

The 2017 conference featured seven stellar speakers who focused on a range of fascinating topics related to the theme.

Dr Janine Joubert was one of the speakers who highlighted that resilience is not only something we dig out of our pockets when we are deeply hurt but we need it to survive.

“Resilience is about overcoming obstacles but is also needed to achieve your dreams. If we were not supposed to have dreams, what is it for, then?

At the Birchwood Hotel for the 2017 Women in Leadership Conference are (from left) Zodwa Pakade, Princess Celenhle Dlamini and Tsakani Maswanganyi.

“We need to ask ourselves: ‘Are you chasing your dreams or are you a quitter?

“The number one enemy of resilience is ‘comfort’. Breaking out of the prison of your comfort zones is incredibly agonising and painful, but you can take small steps to move forward. Small steps escalate into bigger things, allowing you to let go of the fears that are holding you back,” she said.

Joubert encouraged women to prosper in all aspects of their life, including health, finances and their souls.

Princess Celenhle Dlamini gave her keynote speech as she spoke about her journey of resilience in navigating her life as a woman, mother, entrepreneur and her current role as chief operations officer at the Ubuntu Institute.

Some of the women who attended the Women in Leadership Conference, at the Birchwood Hotel are (from left): Gugu Yalo, Letitia Matthews and Carin Engelbrecht.

“When we speak about resilience, three things come to mind which are, recover, return and keep going.

“So how do we recover from a setback? After any major setback, be it related to your health, relationship, professional career, or any other, it is important to always remind yourself that you matter.

“Ladies, when this period in your life settles in, focus on yourself, build yourself up, pep talk yourself into recovery. In my 10 years of being in business, I would say I have had a combination of eight good years and two bad years.

Yvonne Mfolo is the executive head of public affairs at Kumba Iron Ore – Anglo American. She was speaking at the Women in Leadership Conference about keeping it real as women.

“How I have conducted myself during those two years is what is keeping me standing here today. I have experienced almost hitting rock bottom,” she said.

The second aspect she shared was returning to a position of strength.

She said once anyone has experienced a certain discomfort in their lives, you are left shaken, scared and scarred, but it’s how you deal with the lessons that returns you to a position of strength.

“During my recovery period, I now do not panic as I used to. This is simply because after you have been through a couple of weak moments, be it in your personal or professional career, you begin to appreciate the small stuff.

“I seem to have a method to these madness periods. When I realise that I am heading towards a downward path, I first reach out to my Bible, then within my tribal council I select whom will more than likely provide the best comfort and advice for whatever it is I am going through.

Susan Quist currently serves as the corporate services group leader for the Cummins Africa Middle East Area Business Organisation. She spoke at the Women in Leadership Conference about why it is important for women to be intentional about developing their career journey.

“Instead of curling up under the blankets and wishing the world would shrink away, I deal with the situation head on, knowing that I may lose some but more than likely will also win some,” she said.

Lastly, she spoke about focusing on the art of keeping it going. She highlighted that accepting that not everything will always go your way is what enables you to keep going.

“During my years in corporate and entrepreneurial journey, I have repeatedly heard the saying that women pull each other down in the workplace and women do not support each other.

“In fact, I was also one of those people who used to say this; however, in spite of all this all my projects have had strong and bold female targets.

“Whenever I engage clients I seek out the female in the room or the females I can lean on to drive my business agenda, simply because it’s important to realise that whether we want to believe it or not, if we are in the presence of a room full of gender opposites, we need to stick together,” Dlamini said.

Other speakers included Elaine Jacob, Susan Quist, Yvonne Mfolo, Gilan Gork and Dr Feroza Mansoor.

Media personality Charlene Lackay was the vibrant master of ceremonies at this event.

Ntombikayise Sibeko

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