A Word From “African Queens Project” Founder:
When I think of Lillian, one word usually comes to mind: Humble! This lady has accomplished so much at such a short span of time, yet she is one of the most down to earth people I know and usually the first to lend a helping hand. Even to get her to do this was hard for her since she is not use to talking about herself so much, however she represents the many qualities that many people strive to have. I am glad to call Lillian both a colleague and friend. May this serve to Inspire to Aspire!
I consider myself a simple human being who enjoys life and aims to make my time here on earth have a purpose. When I pass on, I would want to have made a difference in someone else’s life as I believe my life is not for me alone, there is always a greater purpose. I am blessed to be the last born in my family though I am always regarded to as the baby, which I should say helps a lot in some situations, but in general I have always been a go getter and usually find myself in situations of leadership.
Looking back at my life, every move unbeknown to me was part of a greater plan to get me to where I am and I still am on the road to self discovery at this point in my life. I finished my A-Level studies with the intention of heading to take Environmental Science, but that was not in my cards as I did not achieve the grade marks for this. I started looking for alternative Universities that will take me and applied to various universities from Sokoine University Agriculture in Morogoro to St. Xavier University in Canada and every time I received a rejection letter I lost faith in my purpose. Finally I was blessed to get a position in a small university campus in Parkville, Missouri called Park University where I went to pursue a B.A in International Business and Marketing and it has been an adventure since then.
I am my own worst critic, and always hold myself to a high standard thus when you ask me to talk about achievements, I am left to count only a few and the big one that comes at the top of my head is finishing my University degree and having my family and friends there with me to celebrate this achievement. However you should watch this space for greater achievements in the future.
- Why did you pick the career path that you did?
The path that I am on was pre-destined for me. When I finished my degree I saw myself working in an advertising agency, influencing consumers to buy products and just being a pure marketer and now I am in the Human capital business.
T The first time I had an interview with my boss, Modesta Lilian Mahiga, it was actually so that she could place me with one of her clients as she owned a Recruitment Agency. After we finished the interview, she tells me that she wants to hire me. I was dumbfounded as she was one of the people I admire and could not understand what she saw in me.
I started as Team Coordinator, involved with running around and making sure everything was in order to the current position that I am now holding as the Managing Director for the agency that I actually came in to interview for a placement in their database. Now this transformation did not happen overnight and there were a lot of sleepless nights and days that I wanted to quit, but my boss, who turned out to be the greatest mentor, helped me see the greater picture even when I was weary.
- Who and what are some of your influences?
God first and foremost, He plays a major influence in what I involve myself with and what I do, but second to that are my parents. My mom probably holds the title for most diversified entrepreneur as she has done every form of business from having a salon, rearing animals, processing and packaging milk, mushroom grower and distributor to now being a fully fledged grapevine farmer and she keeps on amazing me with her strength and passion with all she does. My father is one of the most supportive people you could ever hope for though he will grill you on your decision making process, but at the end of the day he will support you. The friends I keep are a selected group who mentor me and help me grow each and every day. So that sums it up to God, parents and friends.
- Do you wish you could have done things differently if given the chance? Please explain.
Given the chance, I would not want to redo anything as I know each and every hurdle that I went through was preparation for the greater race to be run.
- What and who inspires and motivates you?
My inspiration comes from doing a service to others while my motivation comes from my family and friends who always hold me to the highest regard.
- What do you count as your greatest achievement?
I am not one to count and reflect on things I have accomplished and thus this is one thing that I cannot come up with at the top of my head, so for now lets just watch this space.
- What are some struggles you faced in your life that came about because of your gender?
Being a woman presents some challenges in many communities especially coming from an African origin, but I have never let this bring me down. But then again on this I would have to pay homage to the amazing women who came before me and fought for our rights to make sure that I get equal rights.
- How have you overcome these struggles and/or insecurities?
When approaching issues or even reflecting on something I always try to rationalize based on the skills and strengths that I have and rather not dwell on what I didn’t get through due to my gender.
- How important is family especially in light of your career and professional life?
I am a family person through and through, I am passionate about what I do and at times have to sacrifice family time for work but family comes first.
- Do you believe it is important to share your story with other women?
The power of storytelling is powerful and so yes I believe my story should be shared as it may be a beacon of hope to someone else even if I think that there is not much to share.
- In your experience, what do you think are some prevalent issues women face in everyday life? Professionally?
The 21st Century woman still faces a glass ceiling at the work place and its only a few who can make it, but unfortunately at the expense of sacrificing on family life or for lack of a better word “acting like a man”. We still have a long way to go, but I am also of the belief that we shouldn’t use this as a crutch, but rather face our work life and give it the best we can and our work will talk for itself.
- What do you think needs to be done to address these issues?
We should just be more confident in our pursuit and continue pushing on for the right policies to be adopted at our various work places, but then again powerful women are coming up through various avenues such as Entrepreneurship and you really can not have a glass ceiling on this. I believe we are addressing the issues by proving to the world what we can do. Africa currently has two women presidents, the chairperson for AU is a woman, the driving force behind most of our countries economies are women through their various business ventures, so I see us addressing this issues with the sheer intelligence that we as women are only blessed with.
- What would you tell another young woman who wants to go down the same path that you have chosen?
Everyone has a chosen path, there is no value in copy pasting someone else’s path when you have yours to live. I would tell them to learn from it and see where their path takes them.
- What do you do to give back to your community?
I am involved with various initiatives and organizations that assist me in reaching out to those in my community;
– Co host for a weekly business youth radio show called The Link
– Chapter Head in Tanzania for a Pan African movement called Africa 2.0
– Board Member and organizing Committee for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Tanzania
– Member of Smart 29er a CPTM movement
– I do various talking engagements at youth forums on how to position themselves for interviews and success
- If you could tell young women 1 thing, what would it be?
You can do anything you set your mind to just learn to believe in yoursel