Research from Harvard Business Review*, found that men and women benefit from different types of networks. While men need to be central in their network, women prefer to have a close knit group of females as a network. In my experience men naturally form networks at golf clubs, socially and with fellow workers. Women, on the other hand, find it harder to form networks, and therefore end up lacking in terms of an effective network when looking for new job opportunities or a place to find support.
At Phoenix Empowering, we offer services of Coaching and Leadership Enablement to both men and women, but also have a special focus on Women’s Networking. The aim is to provide a platform for women to network, share ideas, support one another and for entrepreneurs to share their service offerings so that we can collaborate and have woman supporting woman.
Our first event was held on 10 October with the theme of “Women Reinvented”.
We had a panel of women sharing their stories of reinvention that was inspiring and uplifting for the audience. Many commented on how authentic the panel were, and they left us with new ideas and thoughts as take-aways:
1) Mpumi Hlomuka-Peme is a technologist and sees herself as an agent of change. She faces unconscious bias in the workplace as a young black female in a male dominated industry. She counters this by arriving at her clients and projects well prepared, and delivers her message in a confident, compelling way that brings value to the client and her organization. This leads to success and takes steps towards changing the perceptions of those around her about women in the IT industry. She is a mentor and inspiration to many young females.
2) ZuZanna reinvented herself after many successful years in the corporate world. She is now the proud business owner of Zuzanna African Warehouse — a health food company born out of her passion for food. She shares the secret of her success:
– Know your customer
– Know your product
– Understand your routes to market.
She is constantly reinventing her business and in Covid times she registered as an essential service and started to take orders online and do deliveries. She also now opens her Deli on a Friday morning and has a market at her home on the first Saturday of each month, in addition to selling online, at other markets and other outlets.
” The best way to predict the future is to design it.”
3) Maureen Baird, also a Corporate Expat, now runs a successful pottery and ceramics business. She suggests offering additional services to your core offering. For example, she offers pottery classes in addition to glazing and firing services. In Covid times she started to restore antique ceramics, when her traditional services went quiet, which has grown into a flourishing enterprise.
4) Last, but not least, Deirdre King shared her interesting story of multiple re-inventions from studying law, to a career in film, to running her own communications agency. She then moved on to work for amazing brands: as the Head of Marketing and Communications for Africa for Walt Disney, the Head of Brand Experience for Nandos, and now as the MD of Jacaranda FM, a role she started during lockdown.
Deidre inspired many people with the way she remains open to new opportunities. When she joins a company, she immediately identifies a successor and begins to train them for her role. This makes her happily redundant after some years and free to move on to new and exciting opportunities.
Deirdre suggests we “collect gold” as we go through life – noticing what is around us, taking it in and being present.
We then had Rays of Hope sharing with us the meaningful work they do in Alexandra, especially in relation to gender-based violence (GBV). We had a brave survivor of GBV share her story with us. In response, we were able to contribute to the work they are doing through donations.
This was followed by a spring brunch where the attendees networked with old and new friends and colleagues. I am pleased to say that the networking and collaboration has continued beyond the event, as women support women and new connections are formed and developed.
Please join us on this journey and look out for future events, by connecting with us via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or our website: www.phoenixempowering.co.za.