By Prisca Sam-Duru
It is assumed that a woman is not paying as much bills as men. But if I bring to the table the same knowledge and competence as a man, should I not earn as much as a man?”
Those were the words of The CEO, Entod Marketing, Mrs Iquo Ukoh who was the facilitator for the March edition of leading energy company, OVH Learning and Development Series, held recently in Apapa, Lagos.
While the monthly series was designed for OVH staff for the purpose of knowledge sharing and skills development, the March edition was held in commemoration of the International Women’s Day, with the global theme: Press for Progress as its central focus.
Bringing her wealth of experience to bear, Mrs Ukoh gave practical advice to the all-women audience on work-life balance.
Considering the high rate of divorce cases which has so far forced many women to slow down on their ambitions to attain very high positions in life just to keep their marriages, Ukoh enjoined women who desire certain degree of fulfillment in their career to work on personal branding.
With her years of experience as a corporate woman in a lead position at Nestle, Ukoh is well acquainted with the undermining factors of contemporary women who are ambitious in their careers. Citing her personal experiences, she was able to educate her audience on how best to secure both their jobs and homes.
“If you don’t have a supportive husband, it can be challenging. It is about humility…be good listeners and supportive to your husbands both emotionally and financially. Ensure you prepare the minds of your husbands in case of any career change,” she advised.
As a way of encouraging women to keep aspiring for greater heights, she advised the married women not to allow their domestic affairs dampen their career especially given the hardship in the country.
“Women must plan their families. As a career mother, rather than make excuses, we must first find strength and be able to manage our time well. Workplaces want excellence and wouldn’t oblige to excuses,” Ukoh said.
At a time when so many women have turned breadwinners in their homes, Ukoh frowned at the prevalence of gender imbalance in payrolls and promotion.
And as a way out, she told the women to be prepared for advancement in their careers by putting down their career vision, re-skilling as well as regularly engaging in self-marketing.
Emphasising on the need to seize the opportunity presented by the internet, Ukoh charged women to pay attention to their online professional profile, pictures and comments because the online platform has become the first port of call with many employers when assessment is made. In addition, she harped on mentoring. Noting that, “belonging to associations helps a lot. Its easier to be mentored by another person you’ve known.”
The CEO, OVH Energy, Mrs. Olaposi Williams explained the rationale behind the monthly learning series and why the last edition was specially dedicated to women.
“We try to get everyone to participate so we ask at the beginning of the year: what would you like to see the organisation do for you? At the end, we agreed on mentorship.
“Every year, the International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world. So, we look at all these significant days in the world to bring about empowerment and development even if it is not just the women. For instance, we celebrated the Valentine’s Day. We went to the schools that are close to us and shared gifts in the spirit of love. So International Women’s Day is just one of those days that we celebrate.“