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.
What does mentorship mean to you?
Mentorship is about service. It is giving of your time, skills and expertise in service to others for their personal and professional development. It is providing and facilitating direction so that others can find themselves through you.
What made you decide to serve on the board of AFETT?
While my professional journey has just begun, I do believe, however, that as a female and a professional I can grow and develop my expertise through networking. Interacting and volunteering with other professional women has both encouraged and supported me on my journey. AFETT has provided a platform for me to meet strangers who have not only become some of my greatest supporters but have been indoctrinated into my extended family. Through our programmes, membership meetings, annual university bursaries as well as our signature fundraising event, Suit Me Up, to be held this year on October 5 at City Hall in Port of Spain, I have come to appreciate that I am part of an organisation that values women and promotes and supports all women from the start of their professional journey throughout the development of their careers.
What issues are most important to you as a female professional?
I wear several hats as a professional. I teach, I write, I am an attorney and I am an entrepreneur with three other businesses. The most important role for me, however, is that I am a mother. I remember having to take my daughter to client meetings while she was six months old and having to cancel court appearances and client appointments when she was ill. While I am not a single parent, I can relate to the many challenges and difficulties of having to balance a career and family without compromising self. As a female professional, the most important issues for me are not just understanding that the landscape and the criteria for female executives have changed within the last five years, but also that we need to create a society that acknowledges the advancement of women with families. A workplace and a culture that promotes a holistic approach to parenting and family life where women are not burdened by the pressures of having to wear so many hats while trying to carve their individual space.
What advice would you like to give to an aspiring executive?
To always remember the why. That the road to self-development and professionalism is a challenging but rewarding one. Setting small goals every day and surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people will encourage and support you along your journey. So, even when you feel like it, don’t give up. The journey is not over. Your story is not yet written.
Do you think it's important for female executives to have good, strong mentors to guide them on their journey?
Female executives serve as an essential part of our socio-economic environment and this is why I believe that strong, positive guidance and mentorship is needed from people who can speak from positions of knowledge, positions of truth and positions of understanding. Having a mentor as a female executive is not just important but it should be mandatory for all women seeking to grow and develop in any sphere.
Why is that?
To share from my personal experience, the importance of having many strong mentors throughout my life has allowed me to persevere. There are times that I have had to make huge sacrifices and suffered moments of hopelessness and depression because I honestly felt that my life had not been going right. I still have brief moments of trepidation when making decisions that I know will change my circumstances. Having someone to speak with for advice and venting purposes has allowed me to keep focus and put things in perspective. Having strong, positive, experienced people mentor and guide me has allowed me to remember my why. Why am I sacrificing and enduring all these challenges? Because I want to be the kind of woman that my daughter feels inspired by. Why am I involved in so many youth-focused and female-centred activities? Because I want to be a woman from whom my daughter can learn. Why am I so nervous about the many life-changing decisions that I make every day? Because I want to be a woman who has created a strong and sturdy foundation that shall shape the legacy of the many generations to come.
Enjoy your journey!
AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation 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 director of research and public advocacy, Jeane Warner. 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.