Sisters are doing it for themselves…..Meet women transforming male-dominated turf

17 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Sisters are doing it for themselves…..Meet women transforming male-dominated turf Delta Beverages’ Dr Patricia Murambinda (left), CZI’s Ms Sekai kuvarika (centre) and Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited’s Miss Ropafadzo Gwanetsa

The Chronicle

Peter Matika, Senior Reporter
OVER the course of her 22-year career in the beverages industry, Delta Beverages general manager, corporate affairs, Dr Patricia Murambinda (44) has often been the only woman in the room.

And now, Dr Murambinda and her peers who have broken the glass ceiling are making moves to level the playing field.

The traditionally male-dominated, multi-million-dollar global beer industry has plenty of opportunities for women, she said, and yet it lags behind when it comes to gender diversity. Dr Murambinda rose to be among the top Delta officials a few years ago and she told Chronicle she always envisioned herself at a senior position at the corporation.  She joined Delta as a graduate trainee in sales and marketing, then rose through the ranks over the years.

“We sell products that are usually there when you are celebrating people and celebrating a moment. We don’t just bring men together.

We bring people together. So, why can’t we attract people in our industry who are diverse and can help drive our business performance,” said Dr Murambinda in an interview.

She said some women, of course, enjoy beer, yet representation does not reflect this.

“I think it is incumbent upon us to be allies for young women coming up to help them believe in themselves, to help them put themselves forward and not to be bullied by anyone,” added Dr Murambinda.

She said she took personal development seriously and even went to the extent of attending self-development coaching clinics and classes.

“It wasn’t easy in those early times when I felt my voice was not heard. I have had and have issues with men in our industry but because I have a strong will and am open minded. I really don’t take those matters to heart but work on strategies to correct what is wrong. When I think about the other young, diverse talent coming behind me, it is my responsibility to give them their voice. I wouldn’t want an advisor. I would want an ally. I want someone in my corner fighting for me,” said Dr Murambinda.

She went on to talk about how she was delighted to have been at Delta at a time when the company launched a new product – Sable Lager.

“It was about two months when we launched Sable lager. It has had a good reception and we hope to see it grow, after all this is a baby that was brewed in the hands of a woman,” said Dr Murambinda.

Points of entry into the centuries-old alcohol industry have often eluded women in the past, according to Dr Murambinda but she was able to change that notion.

“For a long time, even sales employees would get their start by moving heavy kegs which in many cases, was a physical barrier to women. In addition, men typically stay in their positions for decades, leaving little room for women recruits or promotions,” she added.

“Now there are opportunities that include brand managers, event leaders, or any sort of management role that has less of a physical requirement.”

Another woman who has also grabbed the reins is Miss Ropafadzo Gwanetsa, who is Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited Group Corporate Affairs Executive.

At just 35, Miss Gwanetsa is in charge of a key function at one of the continent’s largest manufacturers and distributors of non-carbonated beverages under licence from the Coca-Cola Company.

“I am arguably the youngest female executive in Zimbabwe to emerge during our generation. It is a tough cookie but it is one that I am learning and able to chew,” said Miss Gwanetsa.

She said she too rose through the ranks to be where she is today.

“Recently there has been a heightened focus on addressing gender diversity throughout the industry. The beverage industry in there is attempting to recruit and nurture female talent in the industry,” said Miss Gwanetsa adding that while the beverages industry remains male-dominated, she sees many changes at the corporate level.

She recently underwent a diversity, self-awareness and development training too just like Dr Murambinda.

“It was a night/day experience. I’m happy to see all the advancements taking place in that regard. I’ve never dealt with as many women as I’ve dealt with now in my career. It’s amazing. I am guessing that five years down the road there will be much more equality in terms of women in the industry,” said Miss Gwanetsa.

“There’s a broken rung in the middle. People are recruited, and then they see that the culture does not support them, and they leave.

Replace senior roles. Bring in new thinking. Promotions need to happen from within, and also from out of the company. There needs to be a balance.”

Ms Sekai Kuvarika.

She said companies need to come forward with strong messages and commitments.

Miss Gwanetsa has been in the industry for the past six years.

Both Dr Murambinda and Miss Gwanetsa said there is a woman they deem to be the “mother of all female executives in the country” even though she is not in the beverages industry – Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’ CEO Ms Sekai Kuvarika.

Ms Kuvarika said it was the norm to see boardrooms in the country being male dominated but the playing field should be levelled.

“I have been a leader for the past three years. My journey is peculiar. I was in human resources and then climbed the ladder to be where I am today through hard work and determination,” said Ms Kuvarika.

“Gender stereotypes are a problem. Women are viewed as sexual objects and are taken advantage off. However, it is time we rose from that mindset and developed ourselves and promoted the girl child. Everyone wants to see a change but they are not willing to let go.”
Ms Kuvarika said it was about time the world desisted from holding “carpet interviews” and start employing or promoting people on merit.
“It’s a known fact there are carpet interviews but those need to be done away with. People should be employed on what they possess academically and experience. One has to put in the work in order to get to the top,” she said.

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