Spotlight on Successful Women in Business






Date: 24/09/2018


To celebrate the upcoming ‘Women in Business’ day, Invest in Africa has profiled some successful women in business in recognition of all they have achieved in their field and highlight their achievements.

Below are short profiles (of senior women figures from BP, Tullow and Invest in Africa) that shed light about their journeys, career paths, and the advice they want to share with other women in business.



Ayana McIntosh Lee - VP of Communications & External Affairs, BP Mauritania & Senegal

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Talented women and men enter the workforce with the same excitement, energy and drive to succeed. Advancing into increasingly more senior positions requires mentors and sponsors with the latter being someone who believes in you enough to advocate for you when leadership opportunities are available. It is the lack of sponsorship, however, that proves to be a major barrier to female leadership.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing women who inspired me. From my grandmothers who role modelled being strong, smart and bold, to my mother who began and completed law school while married with three children, I’ve seen first-hand that success is achievable through fortitude. The same is true for my professional career where I have and continue to work with incredible women who rise above personal and workplace challenges to make a positive impact on the business, people around them, and leave a lasting impression of what good leadership looks like.

What skills / attributes have served you best and what will future generations of female business leaders most need to succeed as you have?

Capability, adaptability, mobility and humour are the skills that have served me best throughout my career. I’ve always been willing to take the difficult assignments, even when I didn’t yet have all the skills required for the role. This has allowed me to develop faster and to be selected for interesting projects across the world whereby I’ve had to be adaptable to thrive in diverse environments. It hasn’t always been easy but keeping a sense of humour has been essential. I encourage future generations of female business leaders to be serious about their craft, but don’t take themselves too seriously

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Sandy Stash - Executive Vice President, Safety, Operations & Engineering & External Affairs at Tullow Oil

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

At some level, society remains skewed against powerful women – and fundamentally, one must demonstrate power to be a leader. I think this issue had an impact on the American 2016 election, actually.

It is changing – but it remains a barrier. Once we can get past this – I think we will have the momentum that is needed to make real progress.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

I am inspired by a number of women CEOs and political leaders – Angela Merkel, being one. I find visible, intelligent women very inspiring. Christine Amanpour and Oprah Winfrey come to mind.

What skills / attributes have served you best and what will future generations of female business leaders most need to succeed as you have?

One skill is not being afraid to put your voice in there. Yes – you may be proven wrong – but it is better to be wrong and have put your ideas in there - than to have not said anything.

A second is not to try to emulate leadership styles. There is no one size fits all – and you are at your best when you are true to yourself. Women bring important attributes to leadership teams – and best bring this forth when they are themselves.

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Wangechi Muriuki - Country Manager at Invest in Africa Kenya

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

The most significant barrier for women is the institutional and cultural mindset on the role of women. There is a gender barrier in our society that has created a set of different expectations for women. This includes the notion that women cannot have a good work/life balance. These barriers hinder a woman’s path to becoming leaders in the work place.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

The late Professor Wangari Maathai, amongst many strong women leaders, has been my main source of inspiration. She inspires me because she fought for women equality her whole life and was a pioneer and a martyr for Kenyan women. She was the first woman to receive her PhD in Kenya, first Kenyan to win a Nobel peace prize and first woman to run for president in Kenya.

What skills / attributes have served you best and what will future generations of female business leaders most need to succeed as you have?

For me there are two skills/attributes that all women in business need. These are to stay focus/ be goal oriented and to always remember who you are. Remember that you are a woman, and do not try to be a man. Be forthright, be bold, but remember to be a woman too. You can still succeed as a woman.

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Angelina Diyouh - Business Linkage Programme Manager at Invest in Africa Ghana

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

The most significant barrier to female leadership is global gendered norms and how women are perceived in society. Every time a woman is to be recognised as a great leader, she has to achieve far more than what her male counterparts will have achieved. This makes a lot of women shy away from taking leadership roles even when they are well qualified.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

Lisa Nichols.

She taught me that one can inspire others by being themselves. Despite her struggles and limitations, Lisa moved from being a struggling single mom on public assistance with only $12 to her name to being recognised as a millionaire entrepreneur, a best-selling author, a humanitarian and a motivational speaker. She has shown great leadership in turning her life around and supporting thousands of people to do same.

Knowing the opportunities available to me today and seeing how she took charge of her own life, it tells me the sky is the limit if I believe, work hard and commit to achieving excellence in all I do.

What skills / attributes have served you best and what will future generations of female business leaders most need to succeed as you have?

  • How to build and maintain good networks at different levels
  • How to build a team, inspire and influence them to achieve results
  • Good communication skills to get people to buy into your vision.

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Tina Boadi - Marketing Manager at Invest in Africa Ghana

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

From my experience the most significant barrier is the limited availability of established females in leadership who openly and genuinely want to make time to coach and mentor the next generation.

Which woman has inspired you and why?

My late grandmother is my greatest inspiration. She was never formally educated but was a highly successful and influential wax print and cocoa trader amongst her peers in the Ashanti Region. Without any prior invitation she could easily walk into any high office of the land and be given a warm reception.

What skills / attributes have served you best and what will future generations of female business leaders most need to succeed as you have?

I would say resilience and endurance have served me best. Some of the barriers encountered can be extremely frustrating and painful. Resilience and endurance make it easier to get up, lift up your chin and successfully move past the next hurdle.