Mentorship & networking crucial to empowering Africa’s women


“Networking is very important because we sometimes find that women don’t always support women. One of the things we really need to do is within our network, if there’s something that comes your way and you know the right person to do it, you must forward it on,” said Saint Gobain’s Lisa Reynolds at the Women in Energy conference.

“On mentorship, if I look at my career, my mentors were male because there weren’t females to be mentored by. But I also encouraged men to mentor females because that brings this understanding of each other, and how everybody thinks and works. Mentorship and networking is very important.”

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Reynolds further stated that while women can be leaders wherever they are and in whatever they do, they must also encourage one another to aim as high up the corporate ladder as possible.

“People have said recently, ‘Why is there this big push on women encouraging women to come into this [sector]’. If you look at our industry, you always say there’s a lot of older, mainly, men in this industry with the skills, the knowledge, the expertise,” she said.

“We have to build up that expertise, that knowledge. How can we do it if we’re not encouraging 50 per cent of the population to be part of this? Let’s make the playing ground equal so that when you start your career, [and] you have aspirations to get to a higher level, you have got an equal opportunity.”

Heloise Nel, an executive committee member of SANEA, echoed this and added that women at a senior level have a pivotal role to play in pulling up more junior females into an organisation.

“On the flip side, if a senior female criticises the performance of a junior female, the men and other people in the room who are doing the performance review of that person see it much more harshly,” she explained.

“The senior females in an organisation play a critical role in pulling up other females but also in pushing them down.”

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The conference, which aims to develop African women leaders to create the continents energy future, took place on Monday at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.