I must confess that God provided and surrounded me with male bosses and colleagues who were more of family than work mates. Interestingly, I grew up in a large family where men dominate but in an atmosphere of competency and respect for productivity.
My mother was my role model and as a top civil servant who rose to the pinnacle of her profession, I saw her in herbest moments, taking critical decisions. I saw how she waded off bullying and pressures from ‘powerful’ male superiors. Through the University where I studied engineering, I was heads up, navigated through pressures from lectures and class mates who sometimes wondered what inspires me.
I know someone would want to know if there was male harassment or sexual intimidation. I was a tomboy, a dashing young lady who was usually modestly dressed but I also had this natural instincts of keeping my male colleagues focused on the job. It is the same outside the corridors of academic pursuits and the same in the work environment. If you must survive like I did, meeting your operational expectations must be key. At NIWA, and growing through the ranks, I push myself and my team beyond measure. No excuses associated with being women is allowed.
Having established that I am willing to go the extra mile, to sacrifice my comfort and other fanciful externals, my male bosses and colleagues were also challenged to assist and provide me necessary support to deliver on my mandate. There were also challenges from the women folks.Some who want you to be their gossip mates and so on but I really don’t thrive in the murky waters of office gossips and politics. I deliberately built walls to discourage distractions from my gender group on issues inimical to the job. I chose productivity above self consciousness and pity.
In the marine engineering world, you must work like a soldier, focused, determined and sacrificial. You must be intrepid, adventurous and a goal getter. This is what separates you from others, it is also what counts in our environment! No dulling as they say on the streets!
Managing home and career is also a part of leadership survival. I am a bit worried that our young female professionals wait on culture and not hard work to propel their vision. I am still learning from my male bosses. I even learn from younger ones working under me and the rule of thumb is to deliver and deliver before excuses!
If as a woman you are not ready to work beyond the confines of established rules of engagement, office hours for instance, then the system, will pass you by and will hardly reckon with you at the place of recognition.
Credit: WISTA Nigeria