How the women ‘broke the glass ceiling’ at Series 4
It was the 4th edition of the Women’s Conference and this year, the theme was ‘Breaking through the glass ceiling’.
The day began with a clear weather; it had been raining for a while so you can imagine the joy in my heart when it didn’t rain at all on this day. Yes, it was a public holiday but that didn’t deter the invitees from streaming in.
One after the other, the speakers began to arrive and in no time, after few minutes of exchanging pleasantries among themselves in the executive room they were kept before coming into the venue, they all moved into the hall and after the opening prayers by Adeola Azeez, chairman, WIMBIZ, the event started proper.
First to speak was Oge Modie, MD/CEO, NOI Polls. Oge is indeed a typical example of someone who achieved all she has because of hard work. Steadily and surely, she shared about her challenges but also gave six tips on how a woman can break the glass ceiling and summarised it all saying, “Women must learn to discover themselves and what they carry within. You do not need to walk in another person’s shadow; find your way of breaking through that glass ceiling and also engage in positive politics, it is healthy and not a taboo for the female gender.”
Next to speak was Oby Ezekwesili, the former vice president of the World Bank for Africa. She spoke like a mother that she is and her brilliance is what we have all come to agree cannot be compromised. She is indeed an embodiment of knowledge and when she spoke about ‘breaking through the glass ceiling’, she opened up another angle to it and we all kept nodding our heads in respect to her brainpower and high level impartation. Coming from a humble background never deterred Oby from getting to where she is today. She admonished all women to have a vision. “When you identify your vision, you will know the problems you are called to solve.
Though the Nigerian woman may experience societal challenges, yet, she must find her voice because she has all it takes to make history,” she said.
It was time to listen to Hafsat Abiola-Costello, founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), and special adviser on Millennium Development Goals to the Ogun State government, Nigeria. A woman with a gentle spirit and intelligence that money can never buy, I reminisce on her effortless depth of understanding and I conclude it is unrivalled. For Hafsat, “A woman must be able to balance work and family, she must never mix it up. Time for family should not be compromised because after all said and done, family will always remain. Women must believe in themselves but must also see beyond their gender. You get what you get because you are qualified for it irrespective of your gender, though to an extent women are given opportunities in Nigeria but more can be done.”
She added, “My mother was and is still a positive influence over my life because she taught me to be strong and she held firm to her beliefs. A woman must be strong in mind, not necessarily given to much words but must act from a place of understanding, purpose and relevance.”
Though she was physically absent, for more than 30 minutes we all heard from Florence Seriki, managing director, Omatek Ventures plc, as she reeled out her personal experiences to us through Skype. I must admit that there was not a single hitch during the course of her speech and question and answer session. In the words of one of the participants, “She practically showed us how she has broken through her own glass ceiling and proved her worth with the live hitch-free transmission of her speech. A true engineer she is!”
According to Florence, “There comes a time when you are left all alone and there is no one to help you, you must not give up on yourself or your dreams; you must continue to persevere because at the end of it all, you will smile. Anyone who says going into business is void of challenges has spoken a lie. Yes, there are challenges but you must use them as your stepping stone to greatness.”
The final speech was given by Lindsey Oliver, international commercial director, Bloomberg Television, who was the keynote speaker for the day. For Lindsey, it is about understanding your strength and weaknesses. “As you climb the ladder, you must be able to decipher what is important and what is urgent. Be confident in yourself and your abilities, find your area of expertise and carve a niche for yourself in that area.
Be so good at it that you become a reference point of contact. You have to make yourself relevant in the order of things so that when you speak, people listen to you because you speak from a place of understanding and not necessarily gender. There are people you must do away with, they hinder your progress; identify them and keep off or else they may deter you from reaching your goals or breaking that glass ceiling,” Lindsey said.
I knew series 4 was going to be brilliant but it was much more than that as we all had a fantastic time and enjoyed one another’s company. It was a time to listen, network, learn, write and, of course, enjoy sumptuous African and Intercontinental dishes.
I am looking forward to the 5th series already. Did I just say 5th? Whao! It feels just like yesterday, yet by next year we will be 5? Already? Now, that is something you don’t want to miss. So for now, I can say see you next year and meanwhile, go and break that glass ceiling. Yes, you can!
By: KEMI AJUMOBI
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