#Wiki4Her Profile – Priscilla Echelu

Name & Surname

Priscilla Echelu

Company

University

Position

Student

Sector

Business

What things/people/roles have contributed most to your success?

 I think what has helped me is the idea that I can do it, that success is for me and not for certain individuals. I admire women who have come from nothing and built empires, some have lost their empires or lost their way, but yet they percervered and came back stronger and better. I believe in the idea of surrounding yourself aound people who believe in you and also around people who have the same drive as you. Proverbs 27:17 says it beautifully “iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”

If you knew all that you now know, what would you tell your 18 year old self?

Run your own race. The world will tell you that you have to have certain things in life by a certain time frame. It’s not true. You have to first define what success is to you before you go about trying to achieve it otherwise you will always end up trying to please everyone and their uncles but yourself. Stop waiting for permission to do great things. Stop waiting to be told that you are great. You already are. Believe that. Believe that good things are meant for people like you and that you can change the world. Love more, laugh every single day, run wild, bend a few rules and live life that makes you happy from the inside out and not from the outside. Know your worth. Know that you are beautiful, no person can define your beauty. Believe that your unique nature is what will make this world more desirable. Have attainable goals but never stop dreaming big. Let your big dreams scare you but also fuel you to be the best version of amazing for you.

When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?

I write. I have always loved words and how they get constructed and how they break the grammar rules to write exactly what my heart is feeling. I believe in God so I talk to him – be it in prayer, words, songs. I also recently discovered that i’m somewhat of an outdoors kinda girl, so I run and swim. I also seek counsel from specific people I know who believe in me and who will tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.

What leadership qualities do you most admire?

I admire passion in people. Those who have passion seem to be willing to push on even when the going gets tough. I really admire compassion and empathy. Leaders who see their followers as equals and not as servants, someone who can inspire others and someone who is willing to listen to other viewpoints in order to make the cause work in favour for all and not for themselves.

Victimhood, does that stance serve women’s causes? Women are still exploited, so what would you tell them?

Victimhood, as bad as it may sound has helped woman’s causes to be heard. A huge majority of causes that have been addressed and debated have come from women who have been oppressed or violated in some way, but what makes them stand out more is the fact that those involved are choosing to fight back. They would rather be remembered as individuals or as collectives of women who chose not to let whatsoever issue run their lives but rather to stand up and make a difference for the next woman and next generation. Giving advice on those exploited is not a cut and dry thing but I would most probably advice, for women in the workplace – if you believe in your cause and you believe in your value within your industry, fight. Fight for what you deem is rightfully yours. Fight for your position and when you get there, pave a way for women behind you to also get to the top. Those being exploited in other areas, silence may seem easier but you neber know whom your saving when you speak out.

Do you mentor any girls as part of your personal and/or corporate responsibility?

I am part of the DreamGirls mentoring program run by DadFund.

What are some of the leadership challenges/obstacles that are unique to women?

Women are always perceived as the weaker sex and from a young age, have been told that certain roles are unique to both men and women. This may be true, but I don’t think this should be a “rule”. Women and men should be taught that they can do jobs of the opposite gender and that does not diminish their gender in any way. I suppose then, in addressing the question, some challenges that women may face would be having their voice heard especially in a very male dominated society. Also women need to be secure amongst themselves and not see others as threats but rather start being helping hands towards each other.

Why did you choose your career?

I’m currently still studying business and hopefully furthering my media degree, but I chose media because I find media quiet fascinating and I like the idea of telling a story in various forms.

Are the lives of famous women leaders a lot easier than those of the average women today?

I don’t think so. I think they have help with running their lives but the help is never truly mentioned and so they are portrayed as superheros. I think this then adds on to unnecessary added pressure on those more famous to be people they truly aren’t. Average women also don’t have easier lives. Most cant afford the luxury of getting additional help, so you would find women (most tend to be single moms) having responsibilities at work and at a home and end up spreading themselves to thin. I suppose then in retrospect, both have difficulties in various forms.

Gender quotas on boards are a contentious issue, what do you think about it?

Gender quotas probably fall under the same category as BEE. Some feel it is necessary whereas others feel, you should be where you are for your qualifications and not based on your gender and race. My personal feeling falls somewhat in the middle of both arguments. In regards to gender quotas however, and me being a black female, I can see why having a gender quota would be deemed as necessary. Working in a very male oriented environment, many women are being overlooked not based on the qualifications and what they can bring to the environment but simply based on the fact that they are women. We may be living in a very post modern era, but a lot of gender issues, especially those directed at women, have not been addressed. Perhaps then, the only way for women to have their voices heard is to make a quota – but my feeling is then, have women of substance and those who can make a difference, otherwise then perhaps we are not making any changes at all.

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