COVID-19 has brought specific challenges to female leaders in the travel and hospitality sector in terms of balancing private/family life with a new set of complexities, and being workplace leaders in a time of upheaval.
Melanie Humphries, Regional Head of Investec Bank in Pretoria, asked a few top female leaders for their views on the challenges they experienced and how it sparked critical conversations and the opportunity to rethink roles.
Drive a new narrative
CFO of Lanseria International Airport, Mpolaheng Mohlopi, has found the current period to be liberating for female leaders. She said the unprecedented situation had allowed conversations regarding working conditions to take place, which would not necessarily have happened in the past.
She said the time had been ideal for collaborating and learning from fellow women in leadership roles. “This pause has been necessary in that we can redefine and make sure we lead the process of the new normal.”
Female representation is key
Representation matters in the context of women, according to Senior Director of Finance for Africa and Asia at Boeing Capital Corporation, Lereece Rose. “When women see other women in phenomenal roles, they're able to mimic that behaviour more easily and they find the strength and the courage to carve out their own distinct path.
“For me, it's really important that we know that in leading, these women ensure exponential empowerment of other women and I feel that we should use our platforms to dare a little in our own spaces so that we can encourage other women,” said Rose.
Rewrite the rules
Country Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa Airbnb, Velma Corcoran, said women had been disproportionately impacted by this crisis, which comes from them tending to shoulder most of the parenting responsibility. “Now is the opportunity for women to come together, to rewrite the rules and to rethink our roles.
“One of the exciting things that's emerged from this is that female leaders in various parts of the world have managed the crisis far better than their male counterparts,” she noted, citing Germany’s Angela Merkel and her data-driven approach, and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern's empathetic rationality. “I really believe that there are a small number of female leaders that have emerged as a benchmark for what competent leadership looks like in these turbulent times.”