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#SalutingIndustrySuperwomen | Week 2

In case you missed last week’s post, this Women’s Month, we’re celebrating and saluting the formidable women within the BBF Safety Group who help shape and contribute to the safety industry.  They opened up about the challenges they’ve faced in a male-dominated industry and how they’ve overcome them.

Here are this week’s featured BBF Safety Group Superwomen:

Sharonessa Kemp- Senior Supervisor

  • What has been the highlight of your career journey?

Being promoted to a Senior Supervisor.

  • What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced, being a women in a male-dominated industry?

My greatest challenges have been overall inequality and a lack of acceptance.

  • How have you overcome these challenges?

I had to work twice as hard to gain respect and feel like part of the team amongst men.

  • Why are you so committed to the industry, despite these challenges?

I’ve been in the industry for almost 25 years and have grown such a deep passion for every aspect of my work. That is what drives my commitment.

  • Why do you think it’s important for more women to be part of this industry?

I think women have been so influenced by media and opinion and as a result, often think that big, important job titles are only for men. We must change our mindset, set bigger goals for ourselves and go for them – any women can achieve anything in life.

  • What message do you have for other women facing challenges and obstacles in their career journeys?

Believe in what you want so much that it doesn’t have a choice but to materialise.

Virginia Qobo – Production Coordinator

  • What has been the highlight of your career journey?

I’d say it’s been overcoming challenges to get where I am today. When I look back and see how far I have come, I feel that there is nothing impossible, there’s nothing that a woman can’t do. When you say you can do it, you’re right. If you say you can’t do it, you’re also right. You must go for it and believe you can.

  • What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced, being a women in a male-dominated industry?

There have been many challenges along the way. Times when you don’t feel as accepted as men or as respected. But whenever I see a challenge, I see an opportunity. And that’s when I prove to myself that I can do it. There is no challenge that we as humans, and as women cannot overcome.

  • How have you overcome these challenges?

Staying strong and positive is what’s helped me overcome these challenges. You must face every challenge head-on, go the extra mile to overcome them and find the lesson in every challenge.

  • Why are you so committed to the industry, despite these challenges?

When you do something that you don’t like, you won’t do it right. I love what I do. I treat my work and my workplace as though it was mine – how I would want to treat it and go the extra mile if it was my own business. I don’t treat my work as though I’m only here for a salary. I want to have a positive impact on everyone I come in contact with.

  • Why do you think it’s important for more women to be part of this industry?

This industry is about helping others. The more you help others, the stronger you make them and the stronger you become yourself. I think that women in this industry have the power to inspire other women – to help them be stronger. I think women often think differently to men or have different ways of doing things. If they work together, put their minds together, I think women and men can add a lot of value and achieve anything they want to.

  • What message do you have for other women facing challenges and obstacles in their career journeys?

Women must go out there and not be afraid to join a male-dominated industry. Not everything is easy, but everything is achievable – you can do it. You are strong enough to do it. You must push yourself to reach your goals and your potential. Whatever a man can do, a woman can do.

I believe women can do it even better than men. (laughs)

Samantha Dewraj – Credit Control Supervisor

  • What has been the highlight of your career journey?

I have a lot of highlights at BBF. The most exciting one for me is being a part of a team and organisation that’s so dynamic and diversified in what they do, not only does the business focus on its key customers, but also works to grow its SMME partners. It’s exciting to be a part of an organisation that’s really going to great heights.

  • What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced, being a women in a male-dominated industry?

Change. I think a lot of people are very old school, so changing the way that they do things and changing their mindset is a big challenge. In the industry, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and more innovative ways of doing things and of pleasing customers. Often when you suggest a new way of doing things, people aren’t always very receptive to change and it’s often met with resistance.

  • How have you overcome these challenges?

I try to give my team enough training and be a mentor to them and guide them in what is required. I think it’s important to give them coaching and counselling, to upskill them and give them the tools and support they need to overcome these challenges related to changes in the organisation. As an individual, I’m very motivated – you can’t motivate your team if you aren’t motivated yourself. I try to benchmark myself against other industry leaders in terms of how I support my team to make sure I’m always at the top of my game and that they are benefitting as much as possible in the long term in their careers.

  • Why are you so committed to the industry, despite these challenges?

I really do believe in the brand. The best part about my job is that I get to interact with people at different levels and departments. I love seeing the huge talent pool that we have amongst us and I believe that, through using the strengths of our people, we can really grow and thrive as a company, which is really exciting.

  • Why do you think it’s important for more women to be part of this industry?

With more and more women joining the workforce in South Africa, I think that having more women in this industry is important to understand and cater to the specific safety needs of women, and can also give us – as a business – a competitive advantage. After all, who knows women better than women?

  • What message do you have for other women facing challenges and obstacles in their career journeys?

The best way to predict the future is to create it. You’ve got to persevere, push yourself and upskill yourself – feed your mind. You’ve got to constantly keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry, what’s happening around you. Stick to your guns and go out there and achieve your goals.