Felicia urges women to be 'brilliant'

2009-04-03 00:00

NETWORKING, information sharing and amazing stories of triumph in business is what this year’s Women’s Empowerment Conference, held at the Sinodale Centre yesterday, was all about.

But Felicia Mabuza-Suttle was no doubt the “wow factor” at the gathering, organised by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB)’s women’s empowerment desk, with Absa as the main funder.

Mabuza-Suttle was the driving force behind South African Airways (SAA) employing black pilots and attendants; the airline’s greetings in Zulu, Afrikaans, Sotho, in addition to English, when flying with SAA; and the change of colour you now see on SAA airplanes. These were all changes she faciliated as SAA’s vice president for corporate affairs.

She is a founding member and shareholder in a billion-dollar investment company. She is a businesswoman, a multiaward winner, an internationally acclaimed talk show host, motivational speaker and bestselling author. There is just no way of capturing Mabuza-Suttle’s extraordinary journey. And if you think she must be a fake, the women from the City of Choice that attended the conference will tell you they appreciated her openness, humility and most of all, her love for her country.

This was reinforced by the fact that Mabuza-Suttle participated in the conference for free, having cancelled another invitation in New York, which had come earlier.

“My husband will tell you that my people come first. He always tells me that the first day he met me he knew he would be second. It is not an act, it is real,” said the mother of two, who claims that South Africa is her mission.

Mabuza-Suttle urged women to find their passion by not hiding their talents and brilliance behind a fear of being critised. She affirmed women’s value to one another and the need for women to support one another in the corporate world.

“Don’t allow for another woman to be defamed in your presence because tomorrow it will be you.

“Blowing [out] another person’s candle will make the room dark, but it won’t make yours shine any brighter,” she said. “Read success stories of other women. That is why I take time to hug you and take pictures with you because I believe that if you can get that close to me, you can get there.”

She promised to engage in empowerment projects with women of the city in the future.

Women: City Conference draws major partners

MANDISA Zuma-Jostrey, the portfolio manager for women’s empowerment at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business and the Women Empowerment Conference, said this conference was their best by far.

“Looking back from when we started three years ago, we are improving and the conference gets more powerful. It is now all up to the ladies to go out there and make things happen.”

She said the conference hopes to strengthen relationships with women whose focus is empowering women and make women aware of opportunities available to them.

The conference touched on issues of finance, exploring franchise business opportunities, and national and international trade opportunities, which were presented by government sectors and women who have made their mark in business.

Zweli Mkhize, the MEC for Finance and Economic Development and leader of government business, was also present to highlight the opportunities for small business enterprises in the country’s current economy and how women can be well-positioned for this.

The Witness, Gagasi Fm, the Office of the Premier and the Msunduzi Municipality were also partners in the conference. — WR.


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