Hilda Bujiku on breaking corporate finance’s unjust glass ceiling

Hilda Bujiku, director of finance at Vodacom Tanzania. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • For women in Tanzania and elsewhere who want to pursue careers in finance, Hilda’s narrative serves as a ray of hope

Dar es Salaam. As the global financial landscape changes, it becomes clear that gender diversity in finance management roles is critical for organisations to prosper.

The story of Hilda Bujiku, the financial director at Vodacom Tanzania, exemplifies this point.

Ms Hilda Bujiku has worked with Vodacom Tanzania for almost a decade, working her way up to the position of finance director.

She is in charge of managing the company’s finances and ensuring that its financial goals are met. Ms Hilda’s tale is especially encouraging given that the banking business has traditionally been dominated by men.

Ms Hilda has worked with Vodacom since 2012, rising through the ranks from head of financial planning and reporting to the interim finance director before becoming the full-time finance director of one of Tanzania’s leading telecom companies.

Ms Bujiku was also the first Tanzanian and first female managing director of Vodacom in 2022, before current MD Phillip Besiimire took over.

Despite the difficulties she has encountered, Ms Hilda has proven to be a capable and effective leader. She has been a prominent advocate for gender diversity in the workplace, encouraging more women to take on top roles in the finance sector.

“I don’t want to get entangled in finance. So, in certain ways, I am a finance professional. Yet, of course, I am a businessperson who is responsible for pushing the company’s strategic direction,” she said.

A certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Tanzania since 2005 as well as being awarded a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Ms Bujiku had also worked with another telecom firm ‘Millicom’ alias Tigo Tanzania for six years from 2005 to 2012.

In response to the question of whether her background made her particularly passionate about the telecoms sector, Ms Bujiku says that her passion is primarily fueled by her love of technology.

She says: “Why did I decide to work in telecom? I consider myself a tech nut. I adore how far technology has come and what it is capable of.”

“But, the thing that motivates me the most is never doing anything. I don’t like to stay in my comfort zone. So whenever I feel like I’m becoming too at ease in a particular role, I’m aware that it’s time for me to move on,” she added.

Hilda’s story serves as a beacon of hope for women in Tanzania and beyond who aspire to pursue careers in finance. It shows that with hard work, determination, and the right support, women can excel in leadership roles traditionally reserved for men.

Moreover, having more women in finance management roles can bring significant benefits to businesses, including increased creativity, improved decision-making, and enhanced financial performance. She says that for her as a leader and a woman in finance, it is her belief that learning is an endless experience. “I always say, if you’re not learning, you’re not growing; if you don’t learn, you will never grow,” she said.

Ms Bujiku expressively told Rising Woman that she can only attribute her key success in her career to three things and that being self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-development as to always striving to be the best version of yourself.

“I’m not competing with anyone. I’m competing with myself. But in that competition with myself again, am I self-aware? Do I know what I want? Do I know what I need?

One other thing that this exceptional woman in corporate can attest to is challenging the status quo.

Women in Finance

Ms Bujiku says though the field is termed as male-dominated there have been good improvements in the narrative, as more women like herself are breaking the ceiling.

“I’ve succeeded within finance, but I want to believe that I can be more than finance, or that I am more than finance, right? The best is yet to come as far as my role is concerned, and it makes me excited for the future as well,” she said.

In climbing the corporate ladder she says one must have a proper kind of career plan on how you’re going to execute or how you’re going, to reach your aspirations.

Then again, she insisted on her three key slogans: self-awareness, self-discipline, and personal development.

“Those things will take you to where you want to be,” she asserted.

In increasing the diversity of women in leadership positions, she advises that corporations and other private and public entities must be intentional about it. “What remains is for us women to step up. Step up and own it. The platform is there for us to play. Let’s not hold ourselves back.”

“I think it’s a blessing. The blessing is that women can multitask; we have sharp minds, and we can drive whichever initiative we want. All we need to do is, again, don’t hold back on it. Speak up,” she said.

Biggest inspiration

Ms Bujiku names her mother as her biggest inspiration.

Dedicated and hardworking, she is the reason Bujiku is the woman she is today.

“As a primary school teacher who is now retired, she was a single mother and has induced or rather transferred strong foundations in me, to be dedicated and goal-getter,” she said adding, “But of course my kids, they’re challenging me. They make me wake up in the morning and get excited to go to work.”

Career-wise, she says she has met some notable people who have in one way or another shaped her career.

This, she says, ranges from colleagues and line managers at Vodacom to different networks across the industry.

“These guys have really provided me with, um, you know, clarity. Especially at the stage where I was like at a crossroads. I don’t know what to do at that time in my career,” she said.

Bujiku also gave back to subordinates and those she inspires by mentoring them and providing them with career advice.

“Yes, I am a role model to some people, right? And to those who say I inspire them, they come to me and say, I want you to mentor me, coach me, or hold my hand on this career journey. So I’m doing a couple of those ones.”

Mentorship is not easy because it’s time-consuming. But once I do it, I do it with passion, I make it like an intentional thing, she says. For those considering a career in finance

In Bujiku’s opinion, finance is an interesting field and very relevant because every sector of the economy needs it.

“So it’s a well-respected job, and the market for finance professionals is wide,” she said.

“What I’m encouraging the guys at universities or starting their careers is, once again, believe in yourself; you’re not doing the wrong thing.

“Therefore, have faith in yourself; have an “I can do it” attitude. But most importantly, continue to learn.”