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Q&A with Zainab Ikaz Kassim

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Zainab Ikaz Kassim , Experienced Development Consultant and @CASAF Founder

How could you describe your career path in few words?

My career has been quite an interesting journey and one that I have evolved in. It has been a trajectory of different interesting phases from being from being a humanitarian from an early age, touching the lives of people around me, to studying international relations, to being involved with politics and now being an activist. One thing my career journey has afforded me is an opportunity to learn, build a strong social capital and also be a source of inspiration to others. I have also gained lifelong experiences that have defined the woman I am today.

What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?

My most challenging experience was having to work in a high-level work environment without a well-defined management hierarchy or proper HR structure.

Multi-tasking was high in the sense that I had to function as 10 different people with 10 different job functions/roles. The complexity of the work environment was such that one person called the shots, hired and fired with no proper “guideline.” This arrangement was left me with no proper stability and balance. It had terrible effect on my mental health. Oh! definitely it has. It changed my understanding of organizational strategy as well as the importance of having a well-laid out job description in any role. I also realized the things I could do better as an employer of labour and how not to treat people who work with me and for me. I learned how one’s mental health could affect their overall productivity at work and other areas of their lives. I resolved to prioritize my mental health regardless of any job I take up.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

When I get surprised by unusual and uncertain context, the first thing that comes to my mind is how to fix it. I am a yes man in the sense that I see no challenge as being too much or too difficult, no task too complex or too complicated. I handle issues headlong, get the deliverables sorted and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with later. Versatility is key here and this is one thing that my various work forays have gifted me.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

I would say: be strategic. Have a workable and actionable plan leadership and management plan. Coupled with this you must be willing to learn. No man is an island, no one is beneath you as a female boss and this where emotional intelligence comes in. you must also be approachable and accessible. Smile and maintain your confidence. A good and healthy self-evaluation won’t make you see issues where there are none. There is a general belief that women are naturally difficult bosses by default and due to personal and hormonal factors, I agree somewhat that women bosses can be a handful, but being intentional as women and watching out for these traits while also looking beyond personal biases can help us a great deal.

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