Women of international repute who gathered at the just concluded Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) Annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference opined that women have unique potentials to reach the peak of their careers if they position themselves and take up opportunities.
In Nigeria and some other African countries, women have been founding almost missing in various leadership positions especially in management and politics where men are mostly dominant.
During a panel discussion at the conference, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Aishah Ahmad, urged women to explore their potentials by identifying several opportunities at workplaces and beyond what is defined in their conventional job roles.
Ahmad said younger women who are aspire to greater heights in their careers must not see job roles as job roles, rather as opportunities to make greater impact in workplaces.
She said the journey to becoming the Deputy Governor of the CBN was not achieved as a result of envisioning or imagination, rather a step by step process of hard work at any previously held positions.
“I didn’t sit down one day and said to myself that I was going to be at the CBN. At very job I did, I put in extra effort. I didn’t perform my tasks for the sake of performance, I was determined to getting results and making impacts.”
Continuing, the Deputy Governor recalled that building relations and identifying gaps were also two of the major pointers to the present career success.
“Once I notice that a particular skill is missing, I make sure that such gap is being filled.” I was constantly improving and filling the gaps, she said.
In a keynote address by the former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, she said era of stereotyping women as mothers and teachers has ended because women are beginning to catch up and have the same aspirations with men, however, stressed the importance of role modeling and mentorship by successful women leaders as a gift to the next generation in nation building.
She noted: “We need to recognize that we are all equal in capacity and ability, whether male or female. When we have equity and equal opportunities, our economy will grow stronger; our society will progress, and our people will be inspired to work to achieve full potential”
“There are still barriers against women that we need to pull down, we must allow the courage of our convictions, passion of our causes and our collective strengths as women to inspire us to be politically involved and to birth more female political leaders.”
According to the Managing Director at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, changing the mindset of women and letting them know that there is no harm in stepping into leadership positions is important.
She said it is imperative that women see career as a dynamic venture rather than a position that puts them in a box. “Women need to capable of doing a few things by letting the spirit of focus and determination set in,” Usman said.
Giving her account on how she was appointed as the Managing Director of NPA, she said some of the stakeholders had underestimated her capabilities for being a young woman heading one of the bourgeoning parastatals in the country.
“Today, that is not the case. I was appointed and the story has changed because I proved them wrong. It’s not about being a woman or a man, it’s about being responsible and to perform as a leader,” she said.
Usman argued that more opportunities need to be given to women both in the political space and at various corporate organizations, adding that it was important to be at par with the men.