Business breakfast panellists and GSB&L

Leadership development in the workplace, women leaders innovating the global space and women equality and the gender gap were some of the issues discussed at the recent Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) Business Forum aimed at celebrating women in leadership.

The business breakfast meeting themed: “Celebrating Women in Leadership – Dynamic, Inspiring and Nurturing” saw academics, postgraduate students and members of the business sector being addressed by a panel of phenomenal women leaders comprising of Ms Rochna Kaul, Chevron South Africa’s General Manager of International Products; Dr Hope Magidimisha, a Lecturer at UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies and the first Black woman to be awarded a PhD in the Discipline of Town Planning as well as eThekwini Municipalities Head of Communications, Ms Tozie Mthethwa. The discussion was facilitated by Ms Mpume Langa, Regional Head of Absa Private Banking and Regional Chairperson of the Businesswomen’s Association.

With 22 years of working experience with 17 of them being outside of her home of India, Kaul boasts a wealth of experience in global leadership including being actively involved in the work of the California Leadership Forum for Women in leadership. Hence her presentation focused on how women can innovate themselves in their quest to become global leaders.

‘As the only woman leader in a team of 85 people I learnt early in my career that it is not about age or gender but it’s about adding value to my organisation,’ said Kaul.

‘As women we are unique and we need to celebrate that we bring different skills than men in the workplace. Globally speaking, the only way I have been able to occupy leadership positions all over the world is by understanding and adapt my leadership style to the culture of the environment. I don’t see myself as a woman in the workplace, just a problem solver who ensures that the company is successful.’

Magidimisha spoke on the importance of living your dreams by recounting her life experiences of how although her family and community did not understand her passion for town planning but it did not deter her from pursuing her dream.

‘During my research, I noted that most journal articles in the Town Planning Discipline are written by people from overseas and I decided that I will change this hence I now have an article published. As women we need to be innovative and provide solutions rather than complaining about the problems,’ she said.

Mthethwa spoke on the need for women driving the agenda for Durban especially since the city is about to be led by its first female mayor.

‘The city’s problems are not only the municipality’s problems and we need women to use their unique traits to move our city and families forward. As universities, business and government need women to come forward with innovative ideas to make our vision of a carrying and livable city a reality,’ she said.

In his address, GSB&L’s Dean and Head Professor Theuns Pelser challenged everyone to work together to contribute to leadership and development to ensure that women flourish in the workplace.

Thandiwe Jumo