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#HERStory - Episode 1: The Petite Career Girl

What Did She Do?

Appointed Youngest Female Partner in a Male-dominated Board

The Petite Career Girl: I have spent 10 years of my life in the accounting firm I currently work for. It has been an exciting journey, yes. But, ever since my first day, I've had to constantly prove myself. Being a lady in a male dominated work environment is hard enough. It gets worse when you are 5 ft. 3 inches and very skinny. You become everybody’s ‘daughter’. The underestimation is real. Haven, spent the last 9 years using my work to prove myself and rising to the become a Senior Manager, the ultimate test came in March 2019 when I got the hunch that I had been shortlisted for the Partner position in the firm. Who were my contenders? Let’s call them Mr. A, Mr. B, Mr. C and Mr. D. Now, let me put things in perspective. All 4 of these guys were older than I am, were married with kids, and of course competent enough. I was their petite, unmarried ‘daughter’ now in her 30’s (and still not planning on getting married anytime soon). So, they already had the upper hand because of their social status, or so I thought.

How Did She Do it?

Finding Her Self-Worth and Confidence

The Petite Career Girl: To be very honest, at the beginning I did not even think I had a chance. I was honestly not interested. Our Managing Director did not see me as someone who was strong enough. “Baby Tigress”, that was what he playfully called me… especially when he wanted to dismiss my ideas or calm me down from pushing my initiatives. There was no point trying. It was not until Temi and Bose the two new interns that had just started working with me rushed up to me with watery eyes and gleaming faces, after they heard the news that I began to see the gravity of what was happening. “OMG! We’re going to have a female partner from our unit!”. There were only 3 in the entire firm. 3 out of 12, and these were women of a certain age. I suddenly felt like I had let Temi and Bose down, because I wasn’t even going to try. But how was I going to do it? Was I even good enough? My mentor Aunty Tee almost slapped me when I explained to her. “Madame, are you okay? What kind of lack of self-confidence is that?”. “Look back at all you’ve done for that firm and tell me you don’t deserve to be partner”. Aunty Tee was right. After I wrote out all the projects handled and read my CV again. I could not understand why I shouldn’t be partner. Mr. A, B, C and D were equally skilled, no doubt. But, none of them had sat in meetings I had championed, or managed projects that I led to success, or even birthed initiatives that led to profits for the firm. Once I realized, who I actually was. The deal was done. My interview with the Board was more like a conversation to just clear the doubts as to why I was perfect for the role. My confidence at that interview gave the board the confidence they needed. The M.D. literally said “Baby Tigress, we knew you had the skills and knowledge to take on this role. We only had doubts about your guts. You proved to me that you’re really a tigress, today. Well done”. I cried.

The Moment That Tried Her:

Her unconscious self-discrimination

The Petite Career Girl: Not having confidence in the beginning was really difficult. I literally did not think I had what it took compared to those older male colleagues. To be honest, I was defeated because I had this unconscious mental sexist ideology that the men were better off than I was because they were men. I did not even bother to see that I had what it took and was even better qualified for the role. I just gave in to societies stereotyping culture that women are less capable. All this was done unconsciously. That was a low moment. It showed me how much society had eaten into my character and self-worth as a woman.

Her Eureka Moment?

Temi, Bose and Aunty Tee.

The Petite Career Girl: These three women helped me see myself for who I really was. If Temi and Bose, two young ladies in their very early twenties believed in me that much and I did not believe in myself, then something was wrong. And, when Aunty Tee highlighted all my career achievements asking me who was responsible for them, I realized that I actually already proved myself capable with all those years of hard work. The confidence boost from these women changed everything for me. Women need to uplift women really.

What She Learnt

The Petite Career Girl:

  • "As women, we sometimes unconsciously stereotype and discriminate against ourselves by unknowingly subscribing to societies expectations. We need to stop this and find our self-worth... we all have something we are good for... not just domestic work."

  • "Self confidence for women can change our narrative. The more confident women we have, the more respect we will garner as a whole"

  • "Women need to support women more. The more you uplift your sister, the stronger she becomes, the stronger we are as a community."


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