Pioneering & Risk-Taking: Interview with South African Wendy Luhabe
Wendy Luhabe co-founded the first female-owned company to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (Women Investment Portfolio Holdings). She has led corporations and provided leadership on corporate boards. She became a social entrepreneur and author, receiving global recognition for her results and impact.
When it comes to pioneering and risk-taking, Wendy Luhabe isn’t an only example, she’s an expert.
I was told before I met Wendy that she freely shares and supports all who seek her council. When Wendy and I sat down this week to discuss the keys to success for women around the world, I learned that her reputation was true. I was especially inspired by two constants she’s maintained throughout her career:
- An unwavering dedication to increase the economic participation of women.
- Building her success by making the development of those around her, her key priority.
I’ve captured her key insights and advice to aspiring professional women, below:
The path to success, for women, lies squarely in their ability to take the road less traveled and to take risk along that journey. It doesn’t matter if what women do works or not. By its nature, the very act of stepping out in a new direction is already a contribution to the advancement of other women.
The path to success, for women, lies squarely in their ability to take the road less traveled and to take risk along that journey.
Women have the responsibility to pioneer or model a new way of being for other women. Just by virtue of their example, women pioneers give other women permission to venture out and blaze another new path.
On Permission and Pre-Qualification
Women don’t need permission from anyone to venture out on the road less traveled and they don’t need experience. Men don’t wait for permission and often embark on ventures with no prior experience. Women can do the same if they would just allow themselves to do so. The ramifications for doing so are inconsequential.
On Breaking the Mold
Society conditions women to confine themselves to traditional paths and traditional roles. But, we cannot blame society. Instead, we should blame ourselves and the way we parent. Parents are primarily responsible for shaping their children. If we want women to take risk, to strive and to advance, then we should raise our girls with those expectations.
Don’t expect to have much support early in your new venture. In the beginning, you will be on your own. You will need to rely on your own passion, sense of adventure and commitment to support and sustain you until you achieve success or have a breakthrough. Difficulties and deceptions are often fostered by those wishing to discourage those who don’t have experience. Don’t let them disrupt you.
Rely on your own passion, sense of adventure and commitment to support and sustain you until you achieve success or have a breakthrough.
I’m surprised to see senior, successful women not make the advancement of other women a priority. I still don’t see enough senior women take advantage of their positions and power to reach out and help other women. It seems as though women in organizations still perceive that there are limited opportunities for women and that they somehow still need to compete with other women for the few roles at the top. This is not typically the case with women entrepreneurs who don’t feel the same sense of competition with other women and are more likely to collaborate with and promote each other’s success.
For women to advance we must all build bridges between each other and our work.
Follow Wendy on Twitter.