Six women who have achieved Goliath-slaying feats in business say younger female professionals don’t have to go through the uncertainty, pitfalls and rough times they endured to reach the top of their trade.
They are combining 100 years of their corporate experiences to mentor upcoming professionals and business-savvy women. It is to boost the boardroom chances of women in a corporate Ghana still wired to think leadership is a masculine word.
Enter six MDs: Airtel’s Lucy Quist, Barclays Bank’s Patience Akyianu, Nestlé Ghana’s Freda Duplan, Unilever Ghana’s Maidie Elizabeth Arkutu, CEO of the Business & Financial Times Edith Dankwa and Managing Consultant, Feniks Ltd Pearl Esua-Mensa.
These women have cracked and broken the glass ceiling. Patience Akyianu is the first Ghanaian female MD of the Barclays Bank Ghana. Freda Duplan is the first Ghanaian and woman to be appointed Managing Director of Nestle Ghana. Lucy Quist is the first woman to head Airtel Ghana. Edith is a force in business media industry and Pearl rose to great heights as Deputy MD of UT Bank.
These six coaches on the touchline of business endeavours have vowed to provide mentorship, point out the pitfalls and inject self-belief in women. And there are lots of research screaming the need for women empowerment.
Feminine ambition is often doomed and drained out of a professional woman within two years of working in the corporate and entrepreneurial world, one research says.
But it wasn’t research that brought the six women together. It was dinner. Edith Danquah explained “we were invited by Maidie Akrutu to discuss a community that allows women executives and entrepreneurs to share experiences.”
Lucy Quist was philosophical about her motivation for joining forces with her achieving colleagues. “Every woman needs her three friends”, she referenced U.S First Lady Michelle Obama’s words.
“One who walks ahead, who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we've cleared the way.”
The women who were on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday agree that women at the very top are fewer than desirable.
“It is very lonely up there,” Edith Danquah revealed why they have come together to form Executive Womens' Network or EWNTREE.
The aim is pretty simple: “We want to get as many women into very senior positions as we possibly can...it is really about how to get women in executive roles in this country”, Lucy Quist summed it up.
Already close to 30 women have signed up to understand the ropes of corporate Ghana. Do women have to act like men to be considered for leadership? Should the weight of parenting crash the hope of corporate glory? What about the new genre of entrepreneurship -‘momtreprenuers’?
"We really are hopeful and confident that EWN will become the place where you need to go and really ask what do we need to do to get women higher up there", Airtel MD betrayed emotional attachment to women empowerment.
They will be launching the network on Tuesday,19 April 2016 at the Labadi Beach hotel where the six will engage women from 6pm to 8pm. Prospective members can register online to join EWN by visiting www.ewntree.com. Conferences are lined up within the year.
It is turning out that the dinner that inspired EWN, may well prove the defining moment in gifting the careers of ambitious women a lifeline.
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