The first Session of the Series, opened with a reading by Poet Sitawa Namwali (Betty W. Muragori) from her poem, Say my name. Betty has a degree in zoology and botany and is happily married with three children.
The Chief Guest at this Session was Betty Radier, CEO of McCann Erickson. Soon after Sitawa’s poetry reading, Betty started her presentation with a dramatic opening, appearing dressed in industrial safety gear. She made the point, by getting rid of the gear and reappearing as a beautifully dressed lady, that women do not have to go out of their way to prove their competence. They can still be feminine, beautiful and efficiently competent in whatever career role they chose.
Betty Radier’s presentation was made by quotes, carefully chosen to demonstrate common stereotypes, common reactions to them, and the woman’s choice. The very first one pointed out: No matter what your age, religion or status in life, what we are made of mostly is unlocked potential.
Some of the main points from the presentation included the following:
- Understand who is reading your image. This will help you to present a convincing and capable persona.
- Work on your image presentation. A woman’s image is watched more than a man’s.
- Do not use femininity as an excuse for mistakes, failings and weaknesses.
- Unlearn the socialisation of femininity when in controlled situations. Do not fulfil the stereotypes; emotional, high-strung, irrational etc. Business is business.
- Network to build your business contacts, to fulfil your obligations, to learn more about the trends.
- Learn to verbalise. If we do not like something we can learn to address and vocalise it.
- Work extra hard for visible results. Stay connected to the smallest details.
- Plan. Do not allow circumstances to bog you down.
The women present were able to participate at various points of the presentation, highlighting their own experiences, and the processes that have helped them to prevail.
Elizabeth Mwaura, who is Head of Operations at EMS, explained, “I recognised my potential and chose to move to an environment where it could be unlocked.”
Susanne, a musician said, “Knowing what you want is the Key.” She stressed on strategy, focus and a definite plan.
Nyokabi pointed out, “Things might go wrong. Criticism will come up. Challenges will present themselves. Always remember that it is not personal, it is just business.”
Betty Radier closed the discussion by reminding the ladies present that;
Illiteracy is not marked by the inability to read text, but by the inability to unlearn, relearn, unwrite, rewrite, unread and reread skills, choices and life paths.