In a world where women professionals are still underestimated and underpaid, six of South Africa’s top businesswomen share valuable advice and guidance for women professionals who want to take their professional careers to the next level.
Don’t let imposter syndrome get you down
According to Veronica Moleele, CEO of Penquin Advertising Agency, self-doubt is a major barrier many women professionals face when it comes to successfully running a business. Finding a way to navigate those feelings while staying focused on your objectives is key to taking your career to the next level.
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“Don’t let imposter syndrome get you down. You are smarter and more capable than you will ever allow yourself to fully realise,” Moleele shares.
“We are so quick to judge ourselves and compare our progress or success to others. My advice is that you need to think of yourself as your only competitor. You know what you are doing, and you will do it the only way that you know how – which is ultimately the best way for you. Don’t listen to nay-sayers and don’t diminish your greatness.”
Never underestimate the power of communication
It has been said that communication is one of the most critical skills in the workplace and according to Deirdre King, managing director at Jacaranda FM, it’s a skill that will help set you apart on your professional journey. This has become a more difficult task as many still find themselves working from home.
“I find that the distinction between communication and connectivity is even greater now that we work remotely,” King says.
“Impromptu chats in the corridor, the weekend stories, or connecting through hobbies and children, (or in my case animals) used to be how we connected at the workplace. I’ve learnt to communicate proactively, often, and to everyone digitally.
“You have to work harder to create those one-on-ones, basically leaders need to invest more time with their teams deliberately. Share openly, be vulnerable, show your humanity, assume goodwill, stay close (through the myriad of virtual workplace tools), support colleagues, and hold each other accountable.”
Fill in the gaps
When working your way up the corporate ladder or when venturing out on your own, success often comes with filling in gaps. For Manuela Dias de Deus, managing director of One-eyed Jack and brainchild of the DStv Content Creator Awards, discovering her niche helped her create one of the most impressive entertainment marketing agencies today.
“If you see that niche, take it – and put everything behind it,” Dias de Deus says. “When I started One-eyed Jack, I’d just moved to Cape Town so I had very few contacts to lean on. That meant I had to really put myself out there to network and build relationships. That hard work at the beginning has meant that we’re still here, and stronger than ever, 11 years later.”
Being deliberately efficient is a game-changer
In business, professionals tend to underestimate the impact being efficient has in propelling you forward. According to Kriya Gangiah, owner of Kri8tive Media, it’s one attribute that has helped her become successful in her industry, and it’s something that she believes every professional should take to heart.
“This applies to everything that you do. Whether it’s replying to a client’s email or completing a proposal, efficiency and being efficient is what sets you apart from the rest.”
Gangiah explains that being deliberate with your time and output will help streamline every process in your working environment. “If you get things done quickly and right the first time, it allows you more time to focus on other areas of your business. In addition to this, applying this advice to your personal life supports the way in which you work in your business and together they really complement each other.”
As the world keeps changing and evolving, so does the business landscape and the way one does business. To be successful in your respective field, keeping tabs on new developments within your industry and in the general business sector will be vital.
“Stay curious. Learning, listening and being teachable is important in your journey to discovering your full potential,” Thando Makhunga, managing director at Sheer Publishing Africa shares. “Be comfortable reinventing yourself,” she adds. “Expect change and expect to grow and evolve while staying true to yourself, your values and integrity.”
For many women, the biggest hurdle to overcome is getting the ball rolling. This is why the biggest piece of advice Rethabile “Retti” Ramaphakela, creative director at Burnt Onion Pictures, can give women entrepreneurs and those who are debating taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is to just start – even if that means failure.
“Wherever you are, just get going. Know that it won’t be easy but you have to start somewhere,” Ramaphakela explains.
“When we started Burnt Onion Productions, I was still working full time for another production company, but just by getting the process started, I was closer to my dream. Also, know that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s taken over 13 years for us to get here and we are only getting started.”
Ramaphakela adds that writing down your goals is the first step to achieving them. “Set out a blueprint for what you want to achieve. A dream is just a dream without the steps to achieve it so set up goals and give timelines and deadlines so you are always actively working towards something,” she says.
“Write it down. Plan it. Do it. The blueprint becomes your roadmap for what you want and how you want to go about achieving it.”