Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Can women have it all?

Can women have it all?
July 15
20:17 2017

About six months into my Job as a Business Development Manager at a manufacturing firm, I was summoned by my boss to report for an exhibition, with samples of our products. It was around 12 noon on a Sunday. I hadn’t even had my bath nor cooked a meal. My baby was very ill and I was in a state of dilemma. I stood up, baby in my hands, and a fresh problem in sight to speak to my husband who was in the living room.

“Honey, hmmmm.. my boss just called me now that I have to report unfailingly for an exhibition at Yaba. I am totally confused.” This was a new job and I had every intention of proving my mettle. Here I was also saddled with the responsibility of a sick baby; and a young family. I was totally devastated. My husband shoved the laptop on the chair. The fire emanating from his eyes was consuming. And for the first time, I knew I was in for a tough one.

“Well, I won’t ask you not to go, but please take the baby along. Don’t leave him with me. Maybe today, you will decide which is more important to you, your career or your family?” By this time, I had worked for about seven years, and this was the first job that demanded my weekend at odd and will. He stood up and left the room. I held my baby close and couldn’t fight the tears; every drop was a boulder. The words of my boss and that of my husband hit each other in my head. I looked at my baby and fear gripped my heart. He was very pale and weak. Should I just go to the hospital? I was very close to the highway before I realized I had wandered away from home, completely absent minded. It was the blaring of the hoots that nudged me to reality; baby in my hands, my hair in disarray and flip-flop on my feet. I picked my phone and after several calls and parley, the sales/delivery team attached to my office offered some respite. The exhibition was a success and my boss was happy. With a cocktail of feelings, I decided that day to rethink my choices vis-à-vis my value system.

This is the situation most women find themselves as they progress in their career. Balancing the home front, career and many other things such as their health, spiritual demands, social appearances and others are the realities of being a wife-mother with a career. And the question has always been “Can women have it all?” Last week at our maiden edition of “Leadership Exchange” the Schlumberger Women breakfast meeting hosted us, WELEAD ( – Not-for-profit initiative aimed at building female leadership capacity across Africa, to learn a voice to this prevalent issue.

The low number of female leaders at the top testifies to the fact that the leadership pipeline leaks off female talents at the higher rungs. Why aren’t we surviving in throng? We studied the impression and reaction of three leading women: Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo in her popular video says “Women can’t have it all……. the biological clock and career clock are in total conflict………Women only pretend to have it all…..”; Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first women director of policy at the state department, New York wrote in Atlantic Magazine (2012) that Women can’t have it all. Few years later, she present a slightly different narrative which also includes that Men can’t have it all either. The third woman, Cathy Engelbert, the CEO of Deloitte says “Yes! Women can have it all….especially if you define your own All”
One of the biggest issues with this popular work-life balance is the fact that leading women, who are currently holding the baton, are stretching it out to upcoming female leaders with very conflicting and confusing narratives. One of the underlining factor in our agitation for gender equality is for women to have equal opportunity to reach their full potentials; But, have women themselves internalized this equality and balance? And in this agitation lies the absolute desire to have it all- Eat your cake and have more. It is a choice between eating two club sandwiches from both sides of the mouth or taking a delicious bite and intermittently taking a sip of the coffee to wash it down. The moment we start looking at having it as a process built in sequence and not a simultaneous equation that must be resolved en meme temps, we will be bold to say “Yes! we can have it all – Bread-Bed-Board. But you may also want to probe “Why aren’t we having it all?

Fear- Most women are afraid to take the bold step into leadership role, they say No, even before they are ask. Professional qualification and mental readiness– Most women are completely lost in their day-to-day home/family demands that they do not remember that relevance and consideration for certain strategic roles requires continuous re-skilling and up-skilling especially in the VUCA business environment where knowledge expires as dispensed. (3) Family Demands. (4 )Health – Many women (and also men) religiously take their car for servicing but do not have a regular medical checkup? (5)Poor Women friendly work environment etc.

At WELEAD, one of our major focus is to build female leadership capacities and we know that if there are pockets of successful female leaders, then there must be a recipe to it. What do the happiest (Happiness is a choice) and most successful women do differently? “How can we have it all?” becomes the most appropriate question to ask.
Renew your Mind: Yes, we can have it all! Accept that as your truth.

Define and Re-Define your All: Your all is not the numerous mundane activities you do. To re-define your all, you must discover your purpose in life. What are you called to do? Is it in tandem with your value system? Which of your strength must you up-play to ensure you achieve it? Make a list of your current activities, strike out the fruitless time wasters. Everything you are doing must dove-tail into your “Purpose” in life

Ignore the Balance: Yes, you heard me! Our definition of balance is Perfect, and it simply does not exist; hence our frustration. Be genuine in your intention and strive for fullness. If you can’t make it to your child inter-house sport, don’t kill yourself over it.

Switch Caps: Mother, Wife, Daughter, Entrepreneur, Trainer, Author, Content Strategist and the list can be endless. Be flexible enough to take these different roles with a positive attitude. After all, variety is the spice of life, relish in the beauty of your different yet complimentary roles.

Get a mentor: Look for women who have succeeded in their leadership quest. Ask for their recipe for success and hit the market and shop for the ingredients.

Re-Invent yourself: There are so many routes to the same success story. If your current track is taking away your shine, seek an alternative route. You may change Job, switch career, get back to work after a career break, decide to become an entrepreneur etc.

Establish a Coping Mechanism: There must be a way out of trouble every day. Educate your support network – nannies, cook, your mum, husband, cousin, PA, chauffeur on how to work with you successfully. Equip them to perform optimally.

Marry Right, Marry Rich: When we talk about right and rich, we are not talking perfect and money. We are referring to complimentary attributes and wealth of knowledge. Any man who cannot stand your little success today will not make a good husband.
With God, all things are possible for them that believe. But Remember, it is not about Perfection, Be Genuine!


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Social Comments


  1. Simili
    Simili July 16, 16:50

    Wao! Having women how are hardly thanked for their efforts & sincerity to better lives,truly a whole lot even before they start are disputed,what we see is a group of mediocre. Defining your all and a mindset that believes in it, I strongly believe is a way forward.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Chibuzo
    Chibuzo July 22, 21:47

    You are doing just good. How do I get trained in any of this package?

    Reply to this comment

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