Be Smart And Innovative To Survive In This Era
Zamzam Nawate is the Officer in-charge of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the Kenya Utalii College. She confirms that even fathers have a role in molding their daughters into women of power; and further encourages women to overcome imaginary barriers since all they require is to be all-rounded in terms of technical and soft skills, coupled with excellent performance
How did you start off your career, and who inspired you? My dad was a renowned businessman in Western Province, with many businesses ranging from transportation, construction and auto-repair. I was my dad’s favorite and confidant and he initiated me into the family business at a very tender age. I spent my weekends and school holidays in his office helping with bookkeeping, inventory control, and letter writing, as well as reading the Taifa Leo newspaper to him and his friends from the first page to the last. Reciprocating his love and trust pushed me into the IT world to help him work smarter.
As I worked for my dad, I realized how important it was to reciprocate trust. My dad trusted me with his business and he always involved me in critical decision-making.
To avoid disappointing him, I always ensured I was in the know, and had all the facts concerning his businesses. This meant being very friendly to all the workers and being very organized. I ensured all business records and transactions were kept well for accountability. Before leaving for school/college, I would select and train one of the workers to continue doing my work, and they never disappointed me.
Too much paperwork and figures made it necessary to automate my dad’s business, hence, my interest to study Information Technology (IT). Before I officially joined college, my elder brother, who was a programmer with Kenya Breweries then, also contributed to my falling in love with IT. He would allow me to go with him to his office and help him input data to the system. He also helped me develop my first-ever inventory control system for our dad, and it became the talk of the village. My father brought all his Asian friends to me for their bookkeeping, letter-writing, and designing of invitation/business cards. Amazingly, this made my father invest in a desktop computer for me and this was quite expensive then!
As a female leader, what has been the biggest barrier to growth in your career? Surprisingly, my gender has never been a hindrance, but rather, an advantage. I work best in the company of men, and I have never allowed myself to be intimidated by them.
Do women in your profession have a hard time getting jobs or promotions during the Covid-19 era? Covid-19 has promoted the use of technology, due to the working remotely and social distancing health protocol, and this has opened up ICT jobs. On the other hand, ICT is fundamentally a hands-on job, thst is why it is perceived as a man’s job. To succeed, a woman has to work extra hard. Some cultures are also frustrating to women, especially where men find it difficult to take instructions from ladies, let alone work under them. Relief on the other hand is that the IT profession is result-based, and consequently your output will always market you for positions and promotions, irrespective of your gender. All that ladies require to make it in the profession is to be all-rounded, in terms of technical and soft skills.
How can women achieve an equal future in a Covid-19 World? Covid-19 actually came to break many barriers. Most women who have made it in IT are very smart, and to survive in this Covid-19 world, one has to be really smart and innovative.
I advise my fellow women to identify the gaps created by the pandemic and fill them. Today, women have more reasons to be best housewives as well as working-class by adopting remote working and working from home. All we require is to get organized, plan our time well and give excellent performance.
Gone are the days when women had to stop working or take long leaves of absence, just to start a family. We can work smart from the comfort of our homes as we take care of the children and husbands. As children grow, they start helping in accomplishing our work targets, because IT skills are the easiest to learn and adapt to.
Any career opportunities for women post Covid-19? Actually many. Just to list a few, one can be an e-tutor, office assistant, business analyst, you-tuber, home care and organizer, carry out e-commerce on apps and internet coaching.
Career advice to young women entering your profession during the Covid-19 world? Break the imaginary barriers and work smart. What men can do you can do better, be it networking, software development, MIS, IS, data communication, business analysis or intelligence. Identify your strength and specialize on it.
One recommendation for HR leaders to help promote women in the Covid-19 era at the workplace. Look at the individual as well as team performance when it comes to promotions. In addition, HR leaders should offer women job flexibility and facilitate them to work from home. You may be surprised how much a woman can do from the comfort of her home, if well-motivated and facilitated with remote working tools, and away from office intimidation.