- Angela Mangecha is the director of People and Culture at the Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC). She has held the position since July 2015. She joined the company as a Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) in 2013. She is an experienced HR practitioner with more than 15 years’ experience in the field, 13 of which were at the managerial level. She shares with The Citizen’s Rising Woman her career journey as a leader. Read on...
How did you get to the position of leadership?
I started working at TCC as a business partner supporting the market area. Two years later, I was promoted to the position of a director.
To be honest, I would say to attain this position is proof that one believes in oneself - and can go the proverbial extra mile in her line of work. The fact that the position was offered to me shows that women, too, can be trusted with bigger responsibilities.
What are the challenges you are facing in your position - and how do you overcome them?
It is a very challenging position, with huge responsibilities, even as there are those who might think that it is not. When I was promoted to this position, I was just 35 and I had to deal with males as you know it’s a males world we keep saying that and you have to deal with that in the boardroom. However, my confidence, hard work and readiness to keep learning helped me cope with the challenges.
And, hence, I’ve managed all along to meet my goals.
Two years ago I had a baby, as a mother and a wife I had motherhood roles to play and I had to go on maternity leave had to make sure I leave the team with a positive spirit to keep things going even when I was away.
There is so much to deal with and everyone expects a lot from you from employees and even at home. Workers come and share with you their challenges and expect that you will come up with a solution.
At first, it was extremely hard as it was my first time to hold the position, but the supportive environment really helped me. From Excom level to other staff. You feel a lot of pressure because you are carrying a lot.
How is the situation right now at TCC in terms of gender equality - especially in management?
At the Excom level, there are eight members, currently I am the only female, but we are looking forward to increase the number, last year we had two females on the team.
Do you have a special policy in place aimed at empowering women?
We currently don’t have a specific policy on gender. We just have a policy that encompasses the whole diversity and inclusion issue. We don’t discriminate based on gender or age. We just have a general policy.
We have a diversity and inclusion project at TCC and it is something I am busy working on to ensure we don’t stop at the policies and go further to ensure we increase the number of females in different roles - despite the challenges we have with the nature of our jobs.
Why are there few women at the top management levels?
There are so many reasons... Sometimes, firms don’t give platforms to more women as they had not invested enough time in them. Sometimes, there are no opportunities for menetorship to enable acquisition of real and work-life experience for young ladies so they would grow in their life careers.
There is the question of culture: women are seen as ‘our mothers’ - and mostly are submissive to ‘our fathers.’ Our fathers say things which women would never challenge. The background taught us never to question things; we should take them as they are.
Right now, the corporate world shows that we need to start unlearning that background, challenging things and start talking in boardrooms and offices.
This is something that many women can do: unlearn and change their mindsets. It is also time women chose between career and family. A responsible company will support a woman to manage both her family and responsibilities at work.
You talked about mentorship; how has this played a role in your career growth?
I am lucky that, from day one when I started employment, I had a very good mentor. I never knew anything about mentorship since I was coming straight from university. I never had experience on how professional decisions are made, but I was shown how that is done, step by step, over time. My mentor helped me to believe in myself and whenever I had challenges my mentor was always there to support me.
Imagine starting your career with such a mentor - and this has made me passionate about mentoring other women.
I don’t think it would be okay that I got to this position - and then not help fellow women to grow. We run a society at TCC where we support women on whichever challenges they may face. We have women mentoring women on career activities and other issues.
Women can as well have male mentors - just to make sure women get that mentorship support.
In your position: how do you make sure you bring more women to the top?
One of the initiatives we have across all levels is when we do recruitment, we engage line managers to have more female CVs than males. We call it ‘positive discrimination.’ But we need to give more women chances for them to come on-board. This is something that involves the entire organization, and not just one person.
Has your family’s background contributed to who you are today?
I am so privileged and honoured because my family gave me exposure when I was really young. I was given a chance to ask a lot of questions. I would challenge my father with a lot of questions.
The school environment gave me opportunities to challenge myself - and grow confident.
It is very important to expose our girls to the environment which can give them confidence, and allow them to challenge different situations. We need to know what the root cause of confidence-lacking is. It is important for women to tap into the talents given by God to us - and live our lives to the maximum.
To each woman reading this: they should know that there is talent in them; they just need to find what that talent is - and use it to better themselves, other women - and the people around them.