- Njile Bwana had to cope with a toxic work environment, including hostile colleagues, before deciding to take the plunge and cofound a company specialising in recruitment and human resources
Dar es Salaam. There are times when rejection can work wonders to rekindle a fading dream, or develop a whole new dream to a person, says Njile Bwana, cofounder of Reveurse. This is a recruitment and human resources company which has been in the game for two years now. But, its contribution to society has been recognised by international institutions, including the World Bank Group.
Having studied Law at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Ms Bwana says her career journey started when she was employed in a corporate in 2015 where she ascended the ranks from being an intern to a senior associate position. Then things started getting more difficult - and her future became blurry.
“When I was an intern, there was no problem. But problems came with their own impact. I was recognised when I started executing office tasks in a short period of time, compared to the time frame they were used to. This made them promote me to a senior associate position, which turned out to be the most challenging. But, it actually shaped me to what I am now,” she says.
Ms Bwana explains that the senior associate position was basically about leadership - and it was the worst time for her.
“I was the youngest senior associate, a position which came with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). I had to lead a team of people who in my previous days as an intern were virtually my bosses. I was given a year in which to execute all the KPIs - a task that I and the team finished within the time-frame. In fact, I exceeded the company’s targets. But I was not promoted or offered recognition,” she says.
Although she felt unfairly treated, she nonetheless let it pass - especially as her salary was reasonably attractive: more than her earlier monthly salary of Sh120,000. After accomplishments her KPIs assignment, she was being paid about Sh800,000. a month!
“The higher salary made me forget about promotion. However, that salary was reduced to Sh600,000 the following month. When I asked the reason for the reduction, I was told: ‘You were wrongly paid Sh800,000 as your salary, because all your work is worth only Sh600,000...’
“On appealing to higher authorities at the workplace, I was just as soon formally promoted on a monthly salary of Sh800,000,” she says.
It was also at this point that things started to get difficult for her, she recalls. For example, she could not readily communicate with her working team, as they all considered her to be ‘pushy,’ and that she did not give them the chance to showcase their capabilities.
“This made most of the team members turn against me, pressing the top leadership to fire me. But, the authorities knew they could not directly fire me, so they concocted plans to make me resign. They said 50 percent of my salary would be deducted because I was taking a Master’s degree programme on Negotiations from the US-based Harvard Business School, instead of devoting all my time and mental resources at work,” says Ms Bwana.
“In the event, I decided to quit the job - especially as I was told that doing so would result in my reconnecting with the people I started working with on ‘Reveurse,’ as well as other old-time colleagues.
“One of them was my longtime friend and colleague, Frank Kifunda - who once worked with me at the corporate company, and I came up with this Reveurse idea,” Ms Bwana recalls.
She also recalls that her mother guided and assisted her, giving her a shoulder on which to lean and weep during the difficult times. Also, she is still mentored by her clients at Reveurse.
“My working with clients is relationship-based. Besides formal work, I also do have informal conversations with them, during which we share experiences. This has resulted in the bond I share with my clients, which makes them far more open and comfortable to work with me,” says Ms Bwana.
She further says that she also mentors women, and among whose traits must a willingness to learn, and patience.
“Most people assume that you wake one day with all that you have. They do not know that, for one to actually succeed, one must go through a process, and routinely accepting teachings for as a bona fide learner,” explains Ms Bwana.
She addressed the lack of diversity in leadership positions in different socio-econo-political sectors where the number of women leaders is low.
“Most women go through a phase where fear dominates. This is actually one of the many reasons why women do not excel ,barely developing as dictated by the prevailing circumstances,” Ms Bwana avers.
The majority of women still have the mentality that they won’t be accepted for leadership places in elite organisations. “There are false tales that portray men as fearless, stronger and more capable. These deter the girl child from excelling career-wise,” Ms Bwana says.
She says “women need to lead their pack. They must understand that being a woman has nothing to do with careers, success. You can be anything - as long as you work hard for it.
“Women have to learn hard, as this almost automatically makes them strong and sharp - especially in effective decision-making,” Ms Bwana says.
Despite the fact that many women empowerment initiatives already exist, seeking to enhance gender equality, Ms Bwana nonetheless says ‘consistency’ is one strategies that can help in sustaining them.
“There are many initiatives already in place. But they often just vanish into the thin air because their original goal was really not to empower women. Indeed, some of the initiatives have ulterior, retrogressive motives, This must now change for the strengthening of gender parity,” she rightly pontificates.