From the glass ceiling to the glass cliff

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Woman stressed at her desk. Images: Getty images/Gallo Images
Woman stressed at her desk. Images: Getty images/Gallo Images

Joining a new organisation in a demanding season can be an opportunity to showcase your skills, and be part of a team that brings about positive change. Other times though, starting a new job when a company is going through a turbulent time can make even ordinary work responsibilities seem formidable. Sometimes, what seems like a wonderful opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder is actually an ascent that leads you to the top, and pushes you over. 

When such a situation occurs, specifically involving a woman being called in to “save the day” at a time of crisis, it’s called a glass cliff. This is what some say happened to Nhlamu Dlomu, who was appointed CEO of KPMG South Africa in May 2017.

The firm was in the midst of scandals that saw it lose contracts with major clients. In an attempt to repair its image, the entire leadership team was replaced. For the first time in its history, KPMG had a black female CEO – this during one of the worst times the organisation ever faced. 

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