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National Women’s Day in South Africa | A spotlight interview

Capitalise Aug 09, 2022

Every August South Africa celebrates Woman’s month - the “strength and resilience of women and their contribution to society and South Africa”. This year, Women's day is being celebrated on Tuesday 9 August! 

This public holiday commemorates “the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition” to pass the country's outdated laws that involved population segregation. 

In celebration of this month, we’ve been talking to Victoria Kulugomba, our Partnership Manager living in Cape Town. To give us an insight into her life navigating her career in South Africa.

Victoria grew up in a small tight-knit neighbourhood called Chigumula, located in Blantyre, Malawi. She lived there for 26 years before moving to her home now, Cape Town.

In our interview, we discussed her love for excursions, swimming and DIY projects. And then delved deeper into her experience working in tech as a female, how she has seen the role of women in South Africa change and how she's finding becoming a working mum in this industry. 

Learning about the challenges of different individuals and the unique experiences that women face is a powerful level of insight for every business. To help us explore diversity and offer equal opportunities that let every person, gender, race and age thrive in their professional and personal lives. 

Let’s dive in and meet Victoria!

 

Hey, tell us about how you got into tech?

Victoria started her career in account management, with her first job being an account relationship officer in a South African bank. She later went into account management in a SaaS company and that’s when she knew she really enjoyed the world of the tech and partnership management 
 
Victoria explains “It wasn’t until I landed my first role as a customer success consultant that I knew my passion actually lies in training, onboarding and implementation.” 
 
Although Victoria has had a very successful career, it was interesting to look back and see how she has seen the role of women change in South Africa. Describing how more than ever, she is seeing women becoming more confident in their careers, speaking out more and learning to find their voice. 
 
“Women are learning to not be afraid to speak out and raise their hand - to be better seen and heard” says Victoria. 
 

How do you balance work and family?

Victoria gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last year, meaning she’s been navigating her new career path as well as her new role as a working mother. 

Research shows that women can tend to face a different set of challenges with regards to social identity, stigmatisation and discrimation within each stage of the employment cycle. From hiring and career advancement to family-support policies. So, it was great to hear that she's found a flexible work routine that enables her to be around her daughter for all the “little/big everyday milestones”.

“It is an absolute joy being there for your child, working from home makes me very grateful.”

However, Victoria mentions that “being a mom is challenging on her own well-being as it brings with it an extra layer of more challenges.” Highlighting how finding an employer that understands, values and makes flexible adjustments for her new role has been instrumental in her ability to excel in her career. 


 
What helps you maintain your work/life balance?

Juggling different aspects of life and new responsibilities can be a great source of stress for many employees. So, we ask Victoria how she has been maintaining her work/life balance, and her tips and tricks for others looking to get a better grasp. 

Victoria explains that she creates a daily routine that works for her and makes sure she sticks to it! 

“I set my priorities and to-do’s at the beginning of every morning. My work is important to me but so is being a present mom and caring for a little girl. I always make time for our mommy-daughter routine like bath time before I report for work, lunches are spent together and I always prioritise our bedtime, regardless of what my day/work has been like.” 

A great piece of advice to help women in similar situations make priorities when it comes to their busy days navigating various life responsibilities. 

 

What excites you about the future?
 


“Top of my list is watching my little one grow and seeing what type of person she will eventually mature into” says Victoria. “I’m excited to see myself realise my goals and dreams. Excited for what surprises lie along the way; the wins, the new experiences, The sky's the limit, the future can shape into anything and I’m here for it all.”
 
An incredible answer from Victoria, which highlights her confidence, “can-do” attitude and optimism for the future. 
 
Many women may not have this same outlook around the globe. CIPD found that in some businesses there exists a ‘motherhood penalty’, “where working mothers face disadvantages in the workplace with regards to perceptions of their competence, dedication and aspiration”. 
 

Who would you say inspires you?
 

Victoria delves into her inspiration from Sarah Chisanje-Kambilnya, a gender Program Officer with Oxfam in Malawi. “She is an advocate for women and girl’s empowerment as well as gender equality. The work that she does fighting for women rights in Malawi is truly inspiring. 
 
She recently launched a girls education project aimed to improve secondary (high school) completion rates amongst girls in Malawi. 
 
She is currently implementing a project on gender based violence prevention in Malawi.”
 
She continues to describe her own mother and how she has inspired her personally to always help others. “My mother was a stay at home mom and in my pre-teen years she launched a feeding program that she would run from our family home. This program ran for several years.
 
Every afternoon she fed 30+ children that came from underprivileged families. This program was completely self-funded, until this day I have no idea how she managed to keep it up for years by herself without any financial assistance and being a stay at home mother that was not making much income but one thing she taught me was the no matter how little you have - you can use that to make someone’s life a little easier.”
 
“No matter how little you have - you can use that to make someone’s life a little easier.”
 
She goes on to explain how she has vivid memories of herself running around and playing games with those children her mum would be supporting. “She provided a safe space for children in our community to meet, play and also go home with full tummies.”
 

What is your best tip for women in the workplace?

Women empowerment, diversity and inclusion

 

Listen into our brand new podcast as we talk to Ella to learn more about diversity, equality and inclusion within the workplace. She talks about unconscious bias and invisible privilege to give you an insight into the work she does in creating empowered working environments.  

We also talk to Sophie Compton as she dives into what we’re doing at Capitalise and the benefits of our Women Network in creating a positive community that improves our collaboration and morale. 

 

Listen in here. 

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