- As a woman at the top of the leadership chain, Fauzia Malik expresses that it takes a lot of hard work and endless determination for women to get to leadership positions
Dar es Salaam. Fauzia Malik could be a new name to many, but at the maker of ‘Cool Blue’, pure drinking water is a very familiar name. She is the chief executive officer of Super Meals Limited which produces Cool Blue as well as the person behind Baby Tembo diapers.
Ms Malik tells The Citizen Rising Woman that consistency is crucial towards pushing a person towards their desired goals.
She started working at Cool Blue 17 years ago, under her father who founded the company in 2003. Ms Malik says working under her father made her work harder than other employees.
Ms Malik started working at Cool Blue after her father requested her to work for the family business whilst she was studying in Kenya.
Malik’s business acumen started much earlier. “I knew that I had an eye for business when during my college days at DePaul University in Chicago where I got a scholarship and did not tell my father, I used the money he sent to purchase a car which I then turned into an informal Uber,” she narrates.
She adds: “I then came back to Tanzania, working under my father made me want to learn about running a business and how to make it a success story.”
This made her enrol as one of the first members of the Entrepreneurship Organization (EO) in Tanzania soon as they launched a chapter in Dar es Salaam.
Through her membership at EO, she learned through experienced entrepreneurs about the unknown realities that surround the general business arena.
She says the best business doesn’t come from personal financial demands but rather filling a gap in the market--providing a solution.
She talks of the most vulnerable moments she has gone through during her journey as the CEO of Cool Blue. “The thing about vulnerability is that you must know where to draw the line especially at work because you can be a good leader only when you are not vulnerable, it is okay to admit that there are those moments but learn to be in control all the time,” says Ms Malik.
She further reveals that at one point she was going through a divorce process, so she became a single mother to three children and at the same time led the whole team of Cool Blue as they marched towards their vision whilst being the only woman in the water production industry.
“There are times I walk into a room, and I would be doubted of my capabilities because the first thing to be noticed is that I am a woman,” says Ms Malik.
She adds that there are times she would step in a room with stakeholders in her field of work, and people would ask her to summon her boss, and at other times, people would choose to talk to her brother rather than her.
She says that as she leads Cool Blue, she also depends on teamwork toward company betterment.
“I hire good people and give them responsibilities because I believe that for a goal to be reached there must be teamwork,” she says.
According to Malik, her leadership style is ingrown from her grandmother, who exemplified the position of women in this world. Malik’s grandmother was a farmer, she made Malik perceive the world differently because she was a goal-getter.
She reveals that through her membership at EO she received an indirect form of mentorship where she joined a global group of Women of EO which is within EO.
“Through this group, I am able to reach out to experienced women from different parts of the world and learn different things that help me in running this business,” explains Malik, further stating that she has had university students who have reached out to her directly and through the company management.
“I do not have direct characteristics that my mentees should have because I believe people have different problems, so whatever the problem I only guide a person to solve it,” explains Ms Malik.
She explains that a leader does not predict how their leadership position will be, unless a person is focused on the top position rather than the journey to it.
“Women must learn that leadership is not a destination, there is a long journey to it, because you have to do the work correctly to become a leader,” asserts Ms Malik.
She further reveals that even when you are a top leader, you must keep doing what you did prior to sitting at the top.
On lack of diversity between men and women in top leadership positions, Malik says that women must be responsible for themselves even when there are already few seats occupied by women in those positions.
“A lot of women lack confidence, they need a person either with a motive or a person who is already at a top leadership post to pull them up,” she says.
She reveals that a person’s visibility at the workplace depends on themselves, stating that women have to reveal their capabilities that could propel their careers as they ascend to the top.
“No one will ever know what you can do unless you professionally sell your capabilities out there, you have to research on what is the new valued skill in your field and at the same time, you learn to acquire it all,” says Ms Malik.
She details that all the initiatives to support women can be sustained through consistency, because every goal set to be achieved during the conduction of the initiatives should remind the operators of the initiatives’ purpose.