No longer ... a man's world: women take on the reigns of the business world Jacqueline Price is the CEO of Labour Investment Holdings in Namibia. Labour Investment functions as the business arm of the Namibian Union of National Workers and has investments across a number of Namibian industries. She sat with Rob Parker to talk about being a CEO, gender and the work-place and the importance of having a mentor.
Article Type: Interview
Subject: Chief executive officers
Pub Date: 05/01/2012
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: May, 2012 Source Volume: 24 Source Issue: 1
Persons: Named Person: Price, Jacqueline
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 294725610
Full Text: Q: Women are taking the reigns of leadership more and more often? What do you attribute this to?

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Women are no longer stepping aside for men in the business sector. Our confidence in ourselves has increased substantially, with more women claiming our rightful place in the leadership arena. I learnt during my business studies, that women leaders are much more effective than men at influencing people at the workplace. We get people to do their best, because we tend to have our finger on the pulse of our employees. We make it a point to determine an entire story behind the story, unlike some male leaders who resolve issues by jumping to a resolution immediately, without taking the time to determine the reason for the problem in the first place. There are also some women employers who are not concerned for the well being of their employees, but not as many as you would think. Through research and by speaking to people on all levels I found that men find it difficult to bond with their employees. Men need to tap into the strengths of their female counterparts to hasten their success in business. Men have a lot to learn from women in business and if this were to happen, empowerment on both ends would be achieved.

Q: Do you, or did you ever, have a mentor guide your success?

Believe it or not, the first mentor in my life, outside my home was a man, David Smuts. He offered me my first job at the Legal Assistance Centre in 1988 and helped me believe in myself. He often said to me that I would make a good lawyer and encouraged me to continue my studies. I have to say too that my mom spent her entire life believing in us, her children and our abilities. I feel that what Dave Smuts did was reiterate what my mom had been telling me all along. It's just that as my mother, I thought she was just telling me that because I was her child. I began to really appreciate her support after her death, and Dave Smut's confirmation of her words helped motivate me even more to become who I am today. As a mentor Dave did his best to make a difference to all people who crossed his path and continues to do so today. I never did tell Dave what he did for me. But I do try my level best to emulate is mentorship style with people I interact with, as I believe that we all have a role to play in making a difference, wherever we find ourselves.

Q: An What are some of the challenges still faced by women in business today?

Women's abilities are outrageously underestimated. The challenges women face are tremendous because they are outnumbered in the boardroom. Their reasoning differs, which men don't seem to appreciate and often don't take as seriously as they should. I remember when I started my position as CEO at LIH someone commented jokingly'that people are of the opinion that I slept with one of the LIH Board members and that's why I have this position. I do not take such comments lightly because women have to work doubly hard to get where they are, and I think people do not realize the struggles women endure both inside and outside the workplace, particularly as leaders. This however, makes us better leaders because when we do reach the top, we would have done so through sheer determination and persistence. I believe the biggest challenge women face is learning patience during this process of change. To be patient with men, and ourselves, as change in our favour is inevitable. We need to understand that people's mindsets cannot be changed overnight but that setting examples with our abilities and hard work will catalyze this change. That is for sure!

Q: Is there pressure on women CEO's and business leaders to prove they are just as ruthless as the men?

There are some women who pressure themselves into thinking that ruthlessness is proof that they are just as good at business as the men and can thus survive the business world. They do not need to do so, because as I said earlier our reasoning differs from that of men considerably. Being ruthless does not work, whether for women or for men, as new business schools of thought emphatically stress. I also think that there is a difference between being ruthless and clarity about what you want. Nobody will cross any leader who knows what she or he wants and does not compromise on their set principles. For men, this is seen as normal, but for women this is seen as ruthless.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced when becoming CEO? (and how did you overcome them?)

Taking LIH forward, expanding its portfolio. I am now working on instilling a fully fledged marketing plan to really get LIH in the minds and hearts of investors, locally and internationally. It was tough being a new face and entering the business world after working at Parliament for a decade and NGOs before that. Forging forward with all I have is how I managed to overcome some of the challenges along the way. I believe in LIH and its objectives. I may one day be long gone from LIH, but my loyalty and commitment to its endeavours will always be at the forefront. The success of LIH means the success of the workers of our country. This is immense and meaningful from whichever angle you may analyse the purpose of LIH.

Q: Your company, Labour Investment Holdings (LIH), at the moment, only has female employees. Is this by design or is it random?

It was certainly not by design. I interviewed a number of people for the vacant positions, including men. I was looking for the best people for the job, and the best people happened to be women. If I find a man who meets all the requirements for a specific job, I will definitely appoint him. I'm still looking.

Q: What advice would you like to give to a young businessperson?

Continue building on your dreams and your dreams will build you! Work hard, never lose sight of your goals in life and never allow failure to stop you from reaching those goals. It is called failing forward. A failure entails one step back and at least three forward. We are here on earth for a purpose. The most successful people in this life are those who are serving their purpose and those are the people who undertake their work with passion and dedication. Go for it, the world is at your feet waiting for you to explore it and find your purpose!

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