As we usher a in a new board, we decided to get their thoughts on what it means to be an executive woman and what it means to serve as a leader and a champion for women and girls in the ever-changing landscape of the workforce.
The Enabler: Questions with Sunita Gopaul, Director Fundraising, AFETT 2019-2020
What does Leadership mean to you?
To be a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be running or managing an organization, department or an agency. Once you have been given the responsibility to take the leading role in any group, situation or even within your family then you are the leader. How you choose to use this role can either build, destabilize or demoralise those under your leadership.
Good leadership means doing what is best for ALL stakeholders involved. It is about inspiring and motivating your team to realize their true potential and doing so with humility and authenticity. It’s also about empowering, developing and equipping others with the necessary education, training and opportunities to be the best version of themselves. Leadership certainly doesn’t mean bullying others, disrespecting the opinion of others or feeling threatened by others. Leadership is also about being charismatic and courageous enough to lead by example.
Where would you like to see AFETT in the next 10 years?
AFETT is a wonderfully structured NGO with formal guidelines and regulations. I am extremely impressed with the extent of work which would have gone into setting up this NGO. Such systems certainly make the entity more accountable to its membership and stakeholders. Over the years AFETT would have hosted countless empowerment and educational forums of women; grant bursaries for well deserving young ladies and hosted monthly programs and meetings.
For instance, Suit Me Up, which is its signature annual event was designed to enable women to purchase good quality and gently used clothing for the workplace.
This NGO has indeed been doing its utmost best to support worthy causes in keeping with its mandate as a platform for making women winners.
All I can hope for over the next ten years is our ability to sustain all the fantastic work and even expand on the work and programs currently being undertaken.
It would also be great to see a continuous growth in its membership and of course to solidify our position as a leading impartial, credible and powerful voice for women’s issues and other matters which impact on the nation’s socio-economy.
What made you decide to serve on the board of AFETT?
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, once said: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college education to serve. You don’t even have to make your subjects and verbs agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.”
I have always admired the work, camaraderie and the objectives of AFETT. As someone who finds personal fulfillment in enabling women and young women to find and use their voice and talents to make a positive difference in their work and personal life, I felt a sense of duty and obligation to serve on the Board and support our current President as she leads us into another year. A life without service for me would be a poor one.I would encourage any young professional or entrepreneur to be part an NGO such as AFETT to get a taste of service to others.
What advice would you like to give to an aspiring executive?
As a young woman entering the c-suite for the first time my advice would be to first believe in yourself and your ability; stay committed to always learning more about the field. Be humble and while you may feel uncertain or even intimidated by others and the environment it is ok. We have all been there and it’s part of the learning process. Find someone you think you can trust and learn as much as you can from them.
Always have a positive and cheerful attitude. No one likes to have a complainer in the office. The way you present yourself to others in the office and the persons you interact with is extremely important. This also adds to your level of confidence. When you look the part, you act the part. Most of all, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Do you think that it is important for female executives to have good, strong mentors to guide them on their journey?
This is highly recommended of course! Having a strong, inspiring and knowledgeable mentor can certainly assist any woman with accomplishing and achieving her career goals and to find success at a faster rate. A mentor can provide guidance and give solid advice and support even after set-backs. The right mentor will also keep it honest and real with you. They can show you the areas to be improved upon and not hurt you in the process. When you are feeling fearful or making excuses a mentor can talk you through the fear and help you through the process.
Closing: We are all a work in progress no matter our age. Live, love more and laugh out loud
AFETT is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today’s response was written by AFETT Fundraising Director, Sunita Gopaul. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at (868) 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at email@example.com.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, meant strictly as advice and guidance, based upon their experience and expertise. In no way are they meant to be legally binding upon AFETT and or its members, servants nor agents.