A Focus on Women: Be the Change You can Be

 

“Go out there and be the change that you can be.”

That’s the advice from Ashika for aspiring women in the workforce. Ashika says her job involves providing support, coaching, and development to the corporate services teams which includes Human Resources, Learning and Development, IT, Finance, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Workflow and Strategy, and Facilities and Administration teams. It’s a role she describes as challenging and exciting at the same time.  She says she has seen significant changes for women in the workforce over the past decade.

Q. Throughout your career have you noticed any change in terms of working with women or the amount of women working in this industry?

During my career, I have observed a huge shift for women in leadership roles.  If you take me back five years when I was in an earlier senior leadership role, I was the only female in that position in the companies for which I worked. At the company where I am currently employed, sixty percent of the senior leadership are women. It’s impressive to see so many women striving to push boundaries and removing barriers.

Q. What do you love about working in your sector?

This is an interesting industry to work in, and we have an open culture in our company. The culture motivates and encourages people to take up roles with us particularly because of the flexibility, and work life balance for team members. This balance creates more options for those with dependent(s), and other commitments. Our company promotes equal employment opportunity and workplace diversity. Promoting diversity in the workplace underpins our commitment to equal employment opportunities and respecting team member’s unique attributes. The focus on team engagement motivates me and others to bring the best of ourselves and reach our full potential.

Q. What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome in your career?

Previously as I moved into more senior roles it was quite challenging being the only female in the senior leadership team, and also being new to the industry - such as telecommunications and later manufacturing. I had to learn new products and technical knowledge to value add to the organisations I joined. When I was working at a Resort juggling studying and a full time role was a challenge. It required making return trips from Sigatoka to Suva on a weekly basis to attend evening classes.  They were difficult times, but I didn’t lose momentum, and continued to complete what I had set out to achieve.

Q. What have been the main ingredients that have contributed to your success?

My determination and belief that all goals are achievable. I practice continuing education, as learning is key to remaining current, and on top of the game at all times. Throughout my journey I have had mentors, who have guided and shaped my career. Networking and other similar forums are a great platform to share ideas, and at the same time learn from others. Whilst at times you may fall, it is important not to be complacent, or give up. Speaking up and expressing my views, and opinions - not being afraid to challenge the status quo, ultimately brings about greater results and outcomes. Lastly, I don’t shy away from new ventures or challenges.  

Q. What advice do you have for other women working to build their career in country?

Go out there and be the change that you can be. Believe in yourself, keep upskilling and be open to learning from others. Develop a personal brand, as this self-awareness of what you want to be known for will aid you in building a successful career. My personal brand is I’m very determined, results-driven, innovative and enthusiastic in whatever I set out to do.

Q. How do you think companies in Fiji can encourage more women in the workplace?

Companies can have policies that support women, and equality across the board. Apart from being an employee, women play critical roles in their households and communities and they encounter numerous challenges in their lives. This could further support women to effectively contribute to the organisation, community, economy and country.

W orking with groups such as International Financial Corporation (IFC) to tackle and find solutions to issues related to childcare and assisting those that are affected by domestic and sexual violence can be a huge help. Being willing to take part in pilot projects with a focus on bringing about change. I understand it’s not possible for all businesses and may not be the best option for everyone, but looking to find alternate solutions that can be effective and raise standards. Look to modify workplaces to accommodate all genders and providing support where possible. This will allow individuals to have the accessibility, and flexibility to excel at their work adding value to the organisations they work in..