Michelle Sanipati is the HR manager for Suva based business process outsourcing company, MindPearl which started operations in 1999, and opened in 2009 in the Fiji Islands, provides contact center services to some of the global iconic brands. Michelle says lack of childcare facilities is a factor holding women back from joining the workforce. She wants to see more women in positions of power. Her advice is: define your goals and go and achieve them.
Q. What do you enjoy about your job?
There’s lots of diverse nationalities. You don’t have to travel far to see them they’re right here on your doorstep. It’s a good environment where you get to share and experience each other’s culture and talents.
Q. How many staff does Mindpearl employ and is there growth ahead for the company?
We have just over 1000 members of staff. We’ve come a long way starting with 30 to 40 staff. As the years go by, we have a lot of good clients coming through the door. There are also more students and graduates we employ which is good for the business and the economy.
Q. Do you see that there can be a lot of jobs created through call centres such as this?
Yes, absolutely. The call centre focus has shifted from just speaking on the phone to many different channels. You now have social media and chat functions which creates more job opportunities, back office functions and team leader roles, quality and management positions become available which is great for employee development.
Q. There was a lot of talk about the Pacific region having the potential to create thousands of jobs in IT related industries. Do you still think that’s possible and what’s stopping the region from achieving that?
Yes, to invest in the region, there should be more flexible policies, supportive programs in education and training for call centre jobs and packages to support the development of BPO.
Q. Is the line of women more suited to women?
Well 60 percent of our employees are women and over 20 percent of our management staff are female.
Q. From what I’ve seen female management across the Pacific tends to be quite low – would you agree?
Yes, there are fewer women in top positions and when someone gets there it’s a big achievement. There are so many bright, innovative ideas that women can contribute improving the quality and performance standards of businesses.
Q. Are you optimistic about the outlook for women in the workforce in the years ahead?
It’s difficult to say as everyone is different. But change is happening as women come away from the traditional perception of housewives. Things are getting more expensive and cost of living is high which in future, more women will join the workforce.
Q. How to make other women succeed?
One needs to put their goals first and know where they want to be in life. My motivation and strength come from having a very supportive family and it is important to have family support in your line of career. This is how I can pursue my passion for my job.
Q. Do you think a lack of childcare facilities in countries like Fiji hold women back from fully participating in the workforce?
Absolutely, you could say that lack of childcare facilities or the businesses that offer good quality child care services are too expensive for working mothers. Most women resort to family to look after their children while they work, the other reason holding women back when it comes to child care facilities is putting trust, safety, security and nutrition in the care of these centers. Childcare centers also need to be regulated by government as in Fiji many offer child care facilities but just a few have good quality standards.
Overall, what would you say is the biggest obstacle for women in terms of the workplace, and how can it be overcome?
I’d say it would be getting more women into management positions in work places. In government, we need to see more woman in power.