Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Vice Chairman at Alibaba Group, Joe Tsai; Regional Manager, Middle East and Africa at Dubai International Chamber, Khalid Al Ali; and CEO at McDan Group of Companies, Dan Mckorley, were among the esteemed speakers at the recently concluded International Woman Leadership Conference in Dubai (TIWLC).
Hosted by Nigerian business leader Ibukun Awosika, the conference held its second edition last week (March 29 to 31) at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City, with the attendance of leading women business leaders, career professionals and entrepreneurs across Africa and the Diaspora.
Themed “Against All Odds”, the 2nd edition of TIWLC converged esteemed speakers from various fields to explore women’s empowerment and leadership issues.
Speaking on the panel titled “Taking Opportunities, Learning From Men”, the trio emphasised the importance of women taking advantage of opportunities while creating a supportive environment for other women.
Answering the question of how men see women taking up leadership positions in society, Babatunde Fashola (CON) stressed that it is a display of insecurity for any man to tag ambitious women as aggressive.
As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the Nigerian minister noted that although men and women have different attitudes toward taking opportunities, women should discard fear and be courageous. “Fear is good!” he said.
“To develop a practical approach to taking opportunities, be natural, and be prepared!” he encouraged. Minister Fashola also spoke about the Nigerian government’s commitment towards a thriving environment where women can actively participate in leadership positions. He further added that women’s voices and perspectives are crucial to sustainable societal development.
Joe Tsai, Executive Vice-President of Ali-Baba Group shared tips on how women can handle the rejections they might face whilst seizing opportunities. “Developing a thick skin and learning from your experiences are important for the longrun in facing rejections of this kind,” he added. Speaking on women taking leadership positions in workplaces, Tsai emphasised the importance of diversity and inclusivity in today’s business landscape and how proper integration can benefit businesses.
Dan Mckorley, a prominent Ghanaian businessman and Chief Executive Officer of the McDan Group of Companies, spoke about the challenges young female entrepreneurs may face and the importance of resilience and perseverance in overcoming these challenges. He encouraged women to take risks, hinge their actions on their dreams, and remain courageous in their steps.
Similarly, Khalid Al Ali encouraged women to start ventures and seek out and working partnerships with willing entities in the business community in Dubai. He urged them to take this action in spite of their fears, noting that they only have to ensure that they choose the right partners.
Moderated by Tokunboh Ishmael, Co-Founder and MD at Alitheia Capital, the plenary session drew more attention to the importance of taking opportunities, learning from others, and also paying it forward to others. Rounding up the discussions, Ishmael encouraged women to “spend less time ruminating and begin to take more action”.
The International Woman Leadership Conference (TIWLC) is an initiative of the Ibukun Awosika Leadership that brings women across Africa and the diaspora together in a place of knowledge, empowerment, and entertainment. According to the convener, Ibukun Awosika, the idea of the conference emerged from the realisation that women are not only technically competent at all levels but are also driven and desire to be valuable additions to their organisations and nations. She, however, noticed a gap between the technical knowledge and other necessary soft skills that women need to effectively position and thrive in leadership positions.