Women’s success secrets

Gillian McAinsh

A POWERFUL group of 170 businesswomen shared support as well as strategies in an afternoon led by 10 top achievers – many nationally acclaimed – last week in Port Elizabeth.

The second Women of Substance seminar, organised by Michelle Brown and Dr Bridgette Gasa, saw dozens of award-winning businesswomen sharing the secrets of their success in an afternoon workshop held at St George’s Park.

Although national business leaders such as Wiphold founder Wendy Luhabe and NMMU chancellor Santie Botha were two of the power figures on the podium, all 10 group leaders gave inspiring feedback.

“Our vision is to see Women of Substance grow, and we are raising the bar this year,” said Gasa. “In South Africa we are faced with many social ills, and we talked about what we can do to change the face of society.”

Fellow organiser Brown cited the commonalities of being women in business: “It doesn’t matter if you are pink or yellow or green: all women face the same challenges.”

Gasa and Brown assembled a “dream team” including Dr Amber Anderson, HR executive at Coca-Cola Fortune; Jacky Buys, head of the Cape Region for Rand Merchant Bank Global Markets; Nosipho Damasane, chief executive officer of Richards Bay Coal Terminal; Dorothea Moors, board member and shareholder of Gutsche Family Investments; Nomkhita Mona, chief executive officer of Safcol; NMMU deputy vice-chancellor for institutional support Dr Sibongile Muthwa; Urmila Soni, director of Burmeister, De Lange and Soni Attorneys, and Yvonne Themba, corporate affairs director of Shanduka Group and chair of Shanduka Black Umbrellas.

Along with Luhabe and Botha, they led 10 groups which discussed career and life challenges such as:

  • Working women not taking enough “me” time;
  • Work and life balance;
  • Being a woman in business in a male-dominated environment;
  • Empowering other women, instead of falling for the PhD (“pull her down”) syndrome;
  • The importance of planning;
  • Personal goals;
  • Confidence;
  • The importance of a mentor;
  • Partnering with men;
  • Accepting help with dignity; and
  • Personal finance.

Over and above these, the diversity of individual groups ensured a range of topics was covered.

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