Here’s to #Women: Celebrating those leading and taking their industries forward
In South Africa, August gives us the opportunity to celebrate women who are often the unsung heroes and driving force behind brands, businesses, families and beyond. This celebration is also an opportunity to hold up a mirror and ask: What is being done to address the challenges women face within organisations? Are we doing all we can to support young women with education opportunities?
Along with acknowledging the continuous strides made by women in various industries; the tough questions must also be asked, to reflect, debate and find practical solutions on the best way forward.
Mobiz asked 4 remarkable women; a few clients, and one of our own staff members who affect positive change in the industry, to share their career stories. We wanted to hear their perspective on policy and leadership, and how they’re moving things forward for women within their own organisations.
First up is Rochelle Knock, MultiChoice Executive who has never backed down from any challenge.
As Executive Head of Customer Value Management, Rochelle heads up a department that drives customer loyalty and retention. "We’re pretty much nurturing the base. DStv is countrywide, we are in people’s homes, so it’s quite a fulfilling role for me.”
It took many turns in the road to find her way to her current position, telling us that, “Initially, I wanted to become a scientist. And I did!”
But after working in the industry for quite a few years she realised academia wasn’t for her. “I wanted something more fast-paced, and in business as opposed to research; something I think is a calling to be fair.”
She’s thrilled at the opportunity to now mentor and help others, and mentions at the start of a career one's focus is on establishing yourself as reputable. “Having largely accomplished that, the next step is looking at what I can do for others, and what I can impart.”
We asked Rochelle a few key questions
- What qualities are essential to being a good leader?
“Leadership is inherently about other people and getting the most out of them. And that’s hard to do that when you have no feeling for others. Often as a leader, even if you’re not the person doing the work, the buck stops with you. You need to be comfortable with being responsible and accountable for things that aren’t necessarily your own.
Rochelle believes that empathy and accountability are key when it comes to good leadership. “Both are important skills to master, as effectively it just becomes more of that as you move higher and higher from a leadership perspective.
- How do you feel different genders are represented in your industry?
“I think gender parity is a lot further evolved in the broadcasting industry than other industries. This doesn’t mean it's by any means perfect, or where it should be. However, it's quite deliberate and I can definitely see purposeful strides being taken to keep that momentum going from a transformational perspective."
- What actions can companies take to uplift female employees?
“Addressing the issue should start at grass root level, with deep focus on educating young ladies and providing them with the opportunity to pursue their profession of choice. We need to ensure that young women are educated, and not being forced to not attend universities or do more traditional women’s roles. We need to send our girls to school and send them to study, the same way we would do with our sons.
In the workplace, I think it's around setting policies in place to ensure any biases are corrected. Most organisations have a pyramid, with a lot of women in junior roles, but they’re not filtering through to the top. Let's make sure we have programmes to support women who potentially would have hit a glass ceiling or get them involved in conversations that wouldn’t have necessarily involved them."
- Are you or your company supporting or partaking in any causes or charities for Women’s Month?
“This year, our own teams are going through what could be the most trying times within their careers. We’ve taken the decision to celebrate our own women – the victories they’ve had, their multi-faceted natures and tenacity, and introducing our “Queens” as we call them to our own teams."
- What is next for you in your career?
"I still find myself to be growing and for me it’s not necessarily about the title or next position – it's about moving on when you don’t feel like you’re growing anymore.
Right now, I’ve had a terrific year, we’ve launched rewards and five new products and services, so I feel quite challenged. It’s just about finding out how we improve and how do we evolve. From a personal perspective, I know the challenge will present itself when I'm ready.”
Having started out her career with an internship at the Lewis Group, Chelsea Fredericks is a Digital Mobile Specialist who has a passion for all things marketing.
“Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I changed my mind as I grew older, but I still hold mini-concerts for myself at home!”
It all started where she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree through TSIBA Business School. “I had a digital marketing module, where I learnt all about and fell in love with online marketing. There are endless learning opportunities within the field and plenty of room for growth. It’s vibrant, dynamic, and I get to explore new trends daily. My work is always different and exciting.” says Chelsea.
“Being a good leader means being open to different perspectives and views." She also believes one of the most essential things a leader can do is treat people with respect and empathy. “It allows leaders to build and develop relationships with those they lead.”
In support of growing and enabling future leaders, Chelsea shares that the Lewis Group urges women to take a seat at the table. “They support women when they have a great idea and give recognition where it is due. We are encouraged to pursue opportunities at any level of the corporate ladder. Lewis is also supporting a Dignity Care package for 1000 women to celebrate Women’s Day 2021."
Her message to young women is simple: “The only person who can stand in the way of your success is you. There will be challenges, but don't let them deter you. Fuel your own desire and be yourself rather than who others expect you to be. Build relationships, learn from others, and most importantly, assist others on your path.”
Innovative leader and Mobiz’ Key Accounts Manager, Jennifer Wu is committed to leadership and developing people.
Upon asking what she wanted to become growing up, Jennifer has a surprising answer. “Growing up I always admired performances of Trapeze Artists.”
Nowadays, she finds herself on a very different kind of tightrope, leading a Key Account Management team at Mobiz: “I keep energised through collaboration, the opportunity to influence someone to grow in their career; finding ways to solve a problem or overcoming a challenge to winning.”
Jennifer believes the recipe for effective leadership has a few essential ingredients. “It necessitates integrity and influence, lateral thinking, interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and respect, and importantly, staying humble. I can also highly recommend leaders reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Rocket fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters.”
Diversifying leadership, accepting, and embracing individuality, are some actions Jennifer feel companies can take to uplift female employees.
“It’s vital that companies make significant investments to women-focused charities, contributing to causes in raising awareness during the celebration of Women’s Month in August. Amongst ourselves it was great to share triumphant stories celebrating our staff and female clients on our platforms.”
A big next step for Jennifer is the opportunity to expand and demonstrate more leadership skills. Tom Peter said: “True leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.”
Lastly, we spoke to Jessica Hampton, marketing coordinator and wearer of many hats at JD group.
“I take on many roles, in that I do the Mobiz SMS campaigns for Incredible connection, Hifi Corp, Russells, Rochester, Bradlows and Sleepmasters.
Furthermore, I do all the digital marketing coordination for the furniture brands that fall under JD Group; creating online content, sending out email campaigns, organising content for their social media pages, and reporting on analytics. I also work closely with the HR department, to support with sending out internal wellness communication and imagery.”
Growing up, Jessica had many careers she wanted to explore. However, one thing she knew was that she loved working with people and understanding why they behave in a certain manner. This has led her to her career in marketing.
“I knew I would get bored of a business degree, so I decided on marketing, knowing this would lead to working with people.” She excelled at her degree and upon graduation, took the leap of faith to apply for a temporary job as digital marketing coordinator. “It’s been 3 years and I still continue to learn and love it!”
For her, a good leader offers support and creates learning opportunities when team members make mistakes. "A good leader should also be passionate, determined, honest, a team player and build up others.” Jessica highlights that the JD Group value their female employees and go out of their way to host events that uplift women, including a self-defence class for all female employees.
“Some of the charities we work with is the Do More Foundation, as well as the Rise Against Hunger Foundation. We’ve also been part of the Santa shoebox initiative to collect hygiene products for girls in need.”
The future holds exciting prospects for Jessica as she hopes to still learn as much as possible her role. “I work towards taking on more brands’ digital marketing, to expand my retail understanding and experience.”
To all the phenomenal women out there, not only within our industry but from all walks of life: here’s to you! And as Brene Brown puts it: “Have the courage to dare greatly!”