#WomensMonth: “We must push ourselves to discover our full potential”

Origin: Supplied. Lynne Africa, Chief Financial Officer of Konica Minolta South Africa

This is the message from Lynne Africa, Chief Financial Officer of Konica Minolta South Africa, a division of Bidvest Office.

Her challenging yet rewarding role sees her straddling finance and technology while using her skills to ensure the company’s financial operations.

She isn’t shy about broaching the topic of working in a male-dominated environment and is generous with her advice for women in finance looking to move up the career ladder.

“I believe my role is still very masculine in many industries. While our company has done – and continues to do – a lot to promote deserving women, into senior and even technical roles, the industry can still do more.

“There is not enough of a female presence in the office automation and technology industry. There are a lot of bright female minds in the industry, and I think it’s up to senior management to nurture their skills and talents, and give them the opportunities they need to grow further and prove their potential.”

In a quest to solve this problem, Konica Minolta aims to support and empower women in the workplace by offering technical internships on an annual basis.

The 12-month Certified Technical Support Level 4 apprenticeship program for young BEE candidates, ages 18-25, combines a structured learning component with hands-on work experience.

“Women who apply for these internships are assessed on the same basis as men,” says Africa.

The apprenticeship programs, launched in May 2012, have since been in high demand. They are available to young men and women and have nurtured and developed fantastic talents.

“We’ve had great success with female intakes so far.”

Improving people’s lives

“For Konica Minolta South Africa, these learning programs and their contribution to B-BBEE go far beyond bragging rights; they are about empowering and improving the lives of individuals and communities in South Africa,” adds Africa.

These programs promote equity and inclusion.

“Women with the required qualifications have the same opportunity as men to enter the industry. Some graduates have been hired by companies in the IT sector while others have found permanent employment with Konica Minolta, its branches and its dealerships.

“Evaluation for promotion is done on the skills and performance of individuals and this process is no different when evaluating men or women, thus giving everyone an equal chance for promotion,” says Africa.

Anticipate, think big

Africa’s hope for future generations of women in her field is for more and more women to believe and invest in themselves and their careers, and her advice to rising young women in the financial sector remains true to advice she would give him when he was younger: “Be more confident in your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself first, others will have a hard time believing in you too.

“Always persevere and do not settle. Hard work always pays off; I am the testimony of it.”

But as financial industries do their part to transform their workplaces, women should ultimately make their voices heard, Africa points out.

“Too often we find brilliant women of extraordinary potential sitting in roles where they are overshadowed by a male counterpart.

“A woman shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and seize opportunities when they arise. Very often, women do not apply for leadership positions because they doubt their abilities.

“I believe we are just as capable as men and should push ourselves to discover our full potential by raising our hands when opportunities arise.

Get community support

Last but not least, Africa speaks to the importance of women surrounding themselves with the support and inspiration of a community of strong and capable women.

“I am lucky to have precious friendships. These women take the form of friends and family, and they have each played a part in my growth and success, some of them are still in my life and they continue to encourage and support me on my journey. .

“Two of these special ladies have passed away, but I hold their memories, their lessons and their roles very dear to my heart.

“My two daughters are also the driving force behind me. They are the reason I never give up! I hope my testimony will encourage them to reach greater heights, just as my late mother’s testimony did for me.

“I watched and admired her strength growing up and whenever I face obstacles I think of her and the strength she represented in the face of many adversities,” says Africa.

“She never gave up and so neither did I.”

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