Be firm but fair; don't lose focus; try to learn something new every day; and read, read read.
These are just some of the lessons learned by three exceptional women who have climbed the career ladder. August is Women's Month, and three of Shoprite's movers and shakers shared their journeys, as well as advice on dealing with challenges.
From casual to climber
Hazel Nzama grew up in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal. When she was a child, she wanted to be a chartered accountant.
"I started at OK Bazaars as a casual cashier during weekends and school holidays. I learnt at a younger age to be independent and to be a disciplined person," she says.
"Shoprite Checkers bought OK and our store changed to Checkers Umhlanga Rocks. That is when I changed my mindset and started looking at my job as a career."
She was very inquisitive and always keen to learn. When she finished matric, she registered with Unisa towards a Bcompt (Bachelor of Accounting Science) degree. In her second year she dropped out for financial reasons and became a trainee manager.
"Since then I had to hit the ground running and I never looked back," she says.
She admits that the gender issue has been a challenge.
"Sometimes, I would give instructions and be ignored. This does not only happen with the opposite gender, but females would also ignore me," she says.
"It has to do with a woman in power and some people are still backward because of the culture shock. You have to humble yourself when you deal with people and they will respect you, that is how I was raised. Be firm but fair and don't lose focus. Stand up for yourself when you are right."
Photo: Hazel Nzama
Passion and purpose
Chantal Syce is Shoprite's group talent and resource manager. She was born in Cape Town and is a qualified HR professional with over 20 years' experience.
Though the workforce and perceptions have changed dramatically over the years, there are still disparities that remain between the sexes, in her view.
"So many women would have experienced the gender pay gap, stereotypes and the glass ceiling syndrome still holds true in many sectors," she says.
"I've always been in a job that had a purpose for me and that I was passionate about. Where that was lacking in any job, I would reinvent the role by seeking more challenges and additional responsibilities."
She fundamentally believes finding a job you are passionate about is the key to success. Her advice to other women in the corporate world is to grow, develop, and empower yourself through academic development and consistently increase the depth and breadth of your skills.
"Read, read, read, read. Find good role models and allow yourself to grow through constructive feedback. Never let anyone define what you can and can't do; except yourself," says Syce. "Cultivate the habit of listening. Be curious about what goes on, not just in your area, but in operations outside your department or division and business and industry."
Kimberly Soobramoney is the divisional financial manager of Shoprite Gauteng. She was born and raised in Durban and is now living in Gauteng.
"I am not afraid of taking on challenges. I enjoy learning and I try to learn something new every day," she says.
"I started my articles with Shoprite as a trainee accountant. During this time, I worked in various departments and divisions within the company. This gave me a broad view."
She is responsible for the administration and finance of 114 supermarkets and 53 liquor stores.
Her advice to women in the corporate world is that, as long as you set goals for yourself and you are willing to work hard and have a positive attitude, there are many opportunities for anyone.
Photo: Kimberly Soobramoney