The term ‘new normal’ will definitely mark the year 2020. This has been a game-changer kind of year for everyone. Some for the worse, others for the better. One thing is for sure, all of us have had to make some kind of adjustment.
Amid all the adjusting, there are women winning big and flying the Kenyan flag high. Three Kenyans have been listed among 17 exceptional individuals and corporates to be recognised during the 5th African Business Leadership Awards ceremony. The editorial board of the Africa Leadership magazine has picked Rebecca Miano, CEO, KenGen as the winner in the African Inspirational Business Leadership Award Category. It’s a big deal.
Rebecca Miano is the first female CEO to hold that position at KenGen since 1954. She rose through the ranks, working in various capacities from 1988 having started working in the energy sector as an assistant legal officer, one of the lowest positions possible. The pandemic seems not to have dimmed her shine in any way.
In an episode of Life in Isolation on Standard Digital Videos, Standard Group’s Multimedia journalist Najma Ismail interviews Rebecca on dealing with the new normal as she speaks on how women can work on positioning themselves to confidently sit at tables where decisions are made and their input matters.
How have you managed to balance between motherhood and innovation during this pandemic?
All my children are grown up now but you know, a mother is always a mother. The restriction on travel resulted in me spending more time with my children. That’s a good thing. As for innovation, this season has necessitated change. There is no way of going round it. We have to continue finding new and better ways of working and living. I have been encouraging my staff to be innovative.
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This is the best time to be a leader. Leaders are tested best during times of crisis. That is when their potential is unveiled best. It is also a time to be empathetic, understand what your staff is going through and offer inspiration as well as hope. Finally, one of the most important traits of a leader is trust. When the people you are leading are able to trust you then you can surmount the crisis better together.
You have shattered many glass ceilings. Do you think you have managed to attain these fetes because you had a good network from the onset?
Networking is important, but is not sufficient. It rides best on competence and confidence. No one will assist you reach your goals or get further if you do not work on becoming good at what you do.
In the middle of a global crisis, how would you advise women to stay on top of their careers, remain relevant and become indispensable?
It is high time that, as women, we cease waiting for things to be handed down to us on a silver platter, as affirmative action. We have to present ourselves at the table, look out for opportunities and offer ourselves to serve in those opportunities. We cannot do that if we lack competence in our areas of specialisation.
Then, we have to be courageous enough to present ourselves and pursue possible opportunities. There is a little voice that keeps telling women, “That is not for you. You cannot make it.” We need to break that little voice and slay it.
We also need to work on our leadership skills because we have to sit at the decision making tables. Work on all aspects of leadership including emotional intelligence, that way, what we have to offer is holistic and balanced all-round.
We should look up to those who have gone before us. I am a product of great mentors. Observe mentors, see how they live their lives and approach those you can to help hold your hand.
What has the pandemic taught you?
This season has taught me many things. But I’ll dwell on the one that is my biggest lesson; adaptability. Before the pandemic, life was very predictable. There was a rhythm to things. No one saw this coming; life turning upside down. The changes, however, have introduced a need for us to evolve.
Adaptability means that I can bring out the best in me even in times of a crisis. It has taught me that it is possible to live a full, successful life in the midst of a crisis as long as you hold other people’s hands and you win together.
Have the will to keep a positive life. Without working on mental strength, you will go down. Keep the hope regardless of whatever comes your way.