Firms That Give Women Opportunities Excel
Jacinta Nzioka-Mbithi is the National Coordinator / CEO, Kenya National Convention Bureau. She gives re-assurance that there are still lots of career opportunities for women in this Covid-19 era due to their ability to easily multitask and to take new challenges head-on.
How did you start off your career, and who inspired you?
I was inspired into tourism by my uncle who worked as a Mountain Guide on Mt. Kilimanjaro. He would come home with guests and share spectacular photos and videos that would keep you yearning to visit and get to see for yourself. The mountain’s beautiful rain forest, snow-covered peaks, the shira plateau, the colobus monkeys and the zebra- colored rocks among others. One time, he took my parents for a tour to climb the mountain and they talk about that experience to date.
I developed great interest in tourism and pursued a degree course in Tourism Management. I got to know about Kenya Tourism Board upon its inception and by then, I was an intern at the Kenya Wildlife Service. It sounded exciting and I kept in touch till I completed my studies and eventually joined the organization as a volunteer and later got employed in 1999.
As a female leader, what has been the biggest barrier to growth in your career?
I may not call them barriers, but rather, challenges. Earlier on in life as a young mother, wife, and career woman, it was tough to balance and find time to self-develop, network and grow. My job also entailed a lot of local and international travel, away from my workstation. God’s grace has been sufficient for I have been able to successfully focus on both fields, giving me a sense of self-satisfaction.
Do women in your profession have a hard time getting jobs or promotions during the Covid-19 era?
I think the Covid-19 era has been tough for all; not just locally but internationally as well. Women, especially those who had established Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) in tourism have been forced to lay off staff, if not a complete shut-down. In Government, we have had to work from home and this has consequently slowed down some programmes. However, women have an advantage for they can easily multitask and take head-on new challenges to create opportunities and in fact, majority have innovated and re-engineered their businesses to suit the current situation.
How can women achieve an equal future in a Covid-19 world?
Women require to be given equal consideration for the stimulus programmes, as well as, in re-training to adapt to the new norm. They should further innovate and focus on new opportunities and niches.
Any career opportunities for women post Covid-19?
Lots of opportunities. Digital presence in tourism is a big opportunity. I have seen Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises as well as Tour Operators focus on marketing their products on these platforms and adequately sustain their businesses. Just like in any other business, women must also find a niche. Those in academia and policy-making, have an opportunity to grow in the areas of consultancy and coaching; since they are up to speed with trends and can support business re-engineering.
Career advice to young women entering your profession during the Covid-19 world?
There is never a good time to start anything. The pandemic should therefore not be a discouragement to any woman interested ingetting into tourism business. Let your passion drive you into the industry to self-develop, while bearing in mind that this service sector is about relationships, and your attitude to service delivery.
One recommendation for HR leaders to help promote women in the Covid-19 era at the workplace?
Corporate that have focused on giving women equal opportunities in leadership have succeeded. Just focus on diversity (gender, race and also age) as it brings out the best of the mix. Make your work environment friendly to women, lets learn that flex hours are the way to go because we have learnt to work from home. Therefore, push for performance and not necessarily presence at the workplace; where possible.