Corporates must make a deliberate effort to accelerate the development of women and appoint them to senior positions, says KG Bako, the Managing Executive: People and Culture, at Absa Corporate and Investment Bank. Bako says this will inspire young and up-coming women professionals to have people to look up to. She feels it is time there are more female chief executive officers and others in C-Suite positions.
“I am passionate about women empowerment so I always make sure I am fully hands on when it comes to these matters. I mentor and coach a number of young women professionals, both at CIB and externally. I believe sharing personal stories of our professional journeys does open one’s eyes and empowers them with tools to choose from when faced with challenges. I believe those of us who are in the top have to create a path for the young professionals,” Bako says. “Having someone as your voice in key decision making forums is key and we need to see more and more women being sponsored.”
She narrates her own experience rising up the corporate ladder, where she faced challenges with gender-based stereotypes, where there were perceptions one could not perform at a certain level simply because you were a woman. “So most of the time, you are finding yourself having to repeatedly proving yourself and working twice as hard as your male counterparts in order to gain recognition,” Bako says.
She believes your immediate supervisor can have a significant influence on your career growth, because they are the first point of reference when you face work challenges. But it is not always that easy, especially if you are a woman. Being told you are not ready for growth or new opportunity is one example, when you are denied growth opportunities deliberately, Bako says.
“When I engaged my boss at the time, I was very clear what I wanted; I had done a self-assessment, so I knew I was ready. When the response was no, not this year with no explanation, I had to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they don’t know or have all the information required for them to make an informed decision,” Bako continues.
“I decided to write a motivation with all the facts (no emotions) that led me to believe I was ready and that changed their perspective.”
Bako says one should take personal charge of their career growth as no-one is going to do it for you. She says: “Surround yourself with people who will take you forward. Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. As Oprah Winfrey said, don’t fight them; just find a new way to stand.”
Bako holds a degree in Social Sciences from Wits University and also a Master of Business Administration General degree from Henley Business School. She believes her career choice was natural because from a young age, she has always been caught between the love for numbers and people.
“The more I worked with people, the more it became clear where my passion was. When my plan of becoming a Clinical Psychologist was not realised there was no better place to nurture the love for both worlds than being a Head of People and Culture in an investment bank,” she says.
Bako admits many people struggle with striking a balance between work and family, particularly as they rise up the corporate ladder. She believes it requires understanding and concerted effort from all role players; from the employer and the culture within the organisation to family members involved.
READ MORE | The Laws Of Impactful Banking
“Firstly, the employer has to be deliberate about an inclusive culture they create to ensure women are able to have work life integration. Secondly, the culture you create at home has to align to your ambitions to excel professionally. The family set up has to support this, understanding there will be days when you have to put in long hours and someone has to take care of household chores,” Bako says.
“With technology these days, you don’t have to be physically in the office to do your work. Not only is the ease of accessing your emails, but you can join meetings using technology, again this speaks to the culture of the workplace. Once you have both worlds set up to enable your ambitions, the main role player is yourself,” she says.
Bako advises that one has to be clear about their plans and know who forms part of your support structure, at home, work or socially. She believes these structures become useful while you also find time to take care of yourself, mentally and physically.
“Make time for physical activities, whether it’s the gym or yoga class whichever works for you. We need to do a better job in putting ourselves first on our To Do list. It can sometimes be self-inflicted; we need to get our priorities in order and organise ourselves better,” says the mother of three daughters.
Her advice to young women is “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you will be quickly and inaccurately be defined by others as Michelle Obama said.”
Invest in Rwanda, A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership
Advertorial by Rwanda Development Board
Since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rwanda has risen from $752million to $9.5 billion in 2018, and the GDP per capita has grown from $125.5 to $787 during the same period. Due to Rwanda’s internationally recognized universal access to healthcare policy called ‘Mutelle de Sante’ life expectancy has risen from 29 years in 1994 to 67 years in 2016. Inflation has fallen from 101% in 1995 to 1.1% in 2018 and Rwanda has jumped over 100 places in the World Bank Doing Business Index, today ranking 38th globally and 2nd in Africa.
Furthermore, with the 9 Year Basic Education policy, Rwanda has seen the average expected years of schooling rise from 6.2 years in 1995 to 11.2 years in 2017. These numbers, both the increases and decreases, are not merely statistics on paper, they reveal a people who have taken the reins of destiny into their own hands. Following the defeat of the genocidal forces by the Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels led by now president, Paul Kagame, many highly qualified development experts believed that the fabric of Rwandan society was irrevocably torn asunder. Over one million people had been killed in less than 100 days, over 3 million had fled the country to refugee camps in Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC (then Zaire), the national treasury was looted and there weren’t even pens and paper in government departments.
Speaking to members of the Australian chapter of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) in May last year President Kagame was asked this question, “experts say that a turnaround from a cataclysmic event such as genocide is supposed to take a century or at least a generation, how was Rwanda able to do so in only twenty years”? President Kagame mentioned the main aspects of the Rwandan turnaround; thinking big, having a vision, refusing to get stuck in the status quo, believing in, and having faith in the vision and, lastly, making sure that the journey is inclusive by bringing people in and creating possibilities for them to make their contribution.
Rwanda does not have the usual ingredients for economic transformation. It does not have a wealth of natural resources such as oil or diamonds, it is landlocked, it has one of the highest population densities in the world. However, Rwanda has a will to build a better, more prosperous nation.
What Rwanda did was put together a development plan called ‘Vision 2020’. This plan envisioned a Rwanda that was middle-income and knowledge-based. With a GDP growth rate which was dominated by double digits over the last 10 years, we are reaping the fruits of the ambitious plan.
One of the fruits is the emerging MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector. Who could have imagined that 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda would become home to one of the most iconic and most expensive buildings in Africa, the KCC (Kigali Convention Center)? The KCC, a venue that includes a five-star hotel and conference facilities that can host over 5,000 delegates, will this year host, among other world class events, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). To date, KCC has hosted the African Union Heads of State summit, the Transform Africa summit as well as a myriad of regional and international events and conferences.
The KCC has not been the only such ‘out of the box’ investment that the Government of Rwanda has made to create value where no one expected. A decade or so ago, the Government insisted on building the country’s very first five-star hotel, the present-day Kigali Serena hotel. Our development partners baulked at the investment, saying that there was no need for such a high-end facility. The Government, believing in its vision, went ahead and built the hotel thereby creating the anchor accommodation facility that opened Rwanda to the opportunity of becoming a regional destination for business travel and MICE. The country now has five 5-star hotels and more are opening up this year. Furthermore, high end accommodation establishments have opened their branches across different parts of Rwanda. To create the ecosystem that a vibrant MICE sector needed, the national carrier Rwandair was established, investments in skills and capacity building were made and the private sector was encouraged and supported to invest in the sector.
Because the Government refused to take a laissez-faire attitude to the development of the MICE and the overall tourism sector, investments that we have registered in the sector as the Rwanda Development Board have totaled $1.5 billion since the year 2000. Hotel rooms have increased from 623 in 2003 to 14, 866 in 2018, tourism revenues have jumped from $131 million in 2006 to over $300 million with MICE tourism revenue numbers growing from inconsequential numbers in 2000 to $55 million in 2018. We expect that all the numbers will grow by at least 10% per year and projections show that the tourism sector will be worth $800 million by the end of 2024.
This might seem ambitious, but we believe in our vision and we are actively working towards fulfilling it. That is why we partnered with different partners, including but not limited to Arsenal FC and Paris Saint Germain, English and French football teams respectively, to market Rwanda as a destination for tourism, MICE and investment. That is why Rwandair is increasing both its fleet as well as its destinations in Africa, North America, Europe and Asia and that is why we are currently building a new international airport in Bugesera, on the outskirts of Kigali, in partnership with Qatar. In addition, we have taken an active role in building an Africa that freely trades with itself through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACTFA) and internally we have reformed both our business environment and visa regimes.
The business community has followed our lead. Last year, we registered over $2.4 billion in investments on the back of over 8% GDP growth. Leading global businesses such as Volkswagen, Motorola Solutions, Andela and Radisson today provide jobs to young Rwandans graduating from global institutions of learning that are based in Rwanda such as Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to the recent opening of the first smartphone factory by Mara Phones; companies including Volkswagen (in partnership with Siemens), Ampersand, and Safiride are also rolling out environment friendly transport solutions through electric vehicles and motorcycles on the street of Kigali and other parts of Rwanda.
When we tell businesses that Rwanda is the right place to invest in, we are confident that they will find the right environment to thrive. Why? Because we built that environment.
Mr. Zephanie Niyonkuru is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Rwanda Development Board. The Rwanda Development Board is a one stop shop for investors, bringing business registration, investment promotion, tourism, ICT development, SMEs, human capacity development, privatization and specialist agencies under one institution.
– Zephanie Niyonkuru
Africa’s Top Employers 2020
Top Employers Institute is the global HR authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions. For over 28 years, our firm has been dedicated to accelerating the impact of people strategies to enrich the world of work through certification, benchmarking, and connecting Top Employers around the world.
Through our HR Best Practices Survey, we enable organisations to assess and improve their workplace environment. Recognition through our programme helps companies become elevated as an employer of choice. We certify organisations worldwide. We recognise Top Employers based on a global four-stage programme governed by a strict standardised process. The leading-edge international research we conduct each year determines whether an organisation meets the required standard of excellence for Top Employer certification.
Africa’s Top Employers for 2020 were officially announced in November last year at the annual Top Employer’s Certification Dinner. A record 230 organisations officially registered to participate in the 2020 programme, 210 organisations spanning 32 African countries and 23 industry sectors were certified throughout the evening. 96 organisations will now carry the South African certification, while 114 Top Employers from 31 other African territories will carry their country specific certification. Top Employers Institute also recognised 17 continental Top Employers who have achieved certification in 4 or more countries.
Billy Elliott, Top Employers Institute Regional Manager: Africa, says that the certification provides employers with an important quality metric that enables them to position their brands more effectively in the attraction, retention, and engagement of top talent. “The Top Employers Institute is not just about certifying Africa’s Top Employers. We have seen a progression of HR in Africa over the last few years, and it is our role to empower and advance people strategies across the world. We are driven not just to certify but to benchmark and connect outstanding employers around the world,” he said.
These are organisations of the highest calibre, continuously working hard to create, implement and advance their people practices. This group of Top Employers provide an outstanding workplace experience, empower employees, and make the working world a greater place.
Read more about Africa’s 2020 Top Employers in the Forbes Africa supplement [HERE]
Have you got what it takes to be a Top Employer?
Visit www.top-employers.com/en-ZA/get-certified for more information.
BOSS X Meissen Capsule Collection Inspired by The Big Five
Johannesburg, 6 December 2019. BOSS celebrated its holiday capsule with an exclusive event on the 4th of December in Johannesburg.
Two internationally recognized German brands BOSS and Meissen came together for the first time. Inspired by Meissen’s celebrated Big Five figurines, a groundbreaking new collaboration united the two brands’ shared passions for quality, design and creativity.
The Big Five collection, designed by sculptor Maximilian Hagstotz, features the African lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, each decorated with a monochrome pattern placed to emphasize the animal’s characteristic traits.
These majestic creatures, depicted in an angular style inspired by traditional African wooden sculptures, are the starting point for a unique capsule collection of BOSS Menswear and Womenswear. The fashion capsule collection includes both casual and formal pieces for men and women, all in a monochrome palette of black and white.
To honor this special capsule and collaboration, BOSS and a local franchise partner SURTEE Group hosted an exclusive dinner just in time for the holiday season, with a special guest in attendance – the founder of Elephants for Africa organization Dr Kate Evans.
Guests, dressed in black and white, were greeted by a life-sized white Meissen elephant statue with elegant black and white canapés and black martinis awaiting them. The sophisticated evening had everything from the food, to the décor, drinks and dress code following the monochromatic theme. The charismatic Mark Bayley and former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss kept VIP guests entertained as co-hosts.
The evening culminated with a private performance by South Africa’s much loved Mi Casa.
Subscribe to Forbes
Yara Shahidi On Why Gen Z Shouldn’t Underestimate Their Power | Success With Moira Forbes | Forbes
Invest in Rwanda, A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership
Rivian: Tesla’s Newest Rival | Forbes
Where The Medium’s The Topic And The Topic is Topical
Get Set Mo!
Special Report4 weeks ago
As Angola Accuses Billionaire Isabel Dos Santos Of Fraud, Her Empire Begins To Unravel
Health4 weeks ago
Cure For Counterfeit Drugs?
Focus3 weeks ago
Djibouti: Strengthening Africa’s Passage To Prosperity
Featured3 weeks ago
The Top 5 Emerging Crazy Tech
Brand Voice6 days ago
Invest in Rwanda, A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership
Woman3 weeks ago
Female tech entrepreneur helps SMEs automate their human resources
Brand Voice3 weeks ago
Africa’s Top Employers 2020
Woman2 weeks ago
Africa’s Most Dynamic Thought-Leaders, Industry Game-Changers And Icons Of Social Activism Set To Feature At The Exclusive FORBES WOMAN AFRICA 2020 Leading Women Summit