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Two Fijian Women: Building Networks To Leadership

Networks and reputation continue to play a role in shaping access to professional opportunities, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association chief executive says. But its not obvious and prevalent in
05 Oct 2021 10:45
Two Fijian Women: Building Networks To Leadership
Fiji Hotel and Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Fantasha Lockington and FijiCare Insurance Limited Group Operating Officer, Krishika Narayan, was the former Chief Executive Officer of South Pacific Stock Exchange.

Networks and reputation continue to play a role in shaping access to professional opportunities, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association chief executive says.

But its not obvious and prevalent in the private sector, Fantasha Lockington said in a report on leadership in the Pacific.

The report by Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, is titled Leadership Matters: Benchmarking Women in Business Leadership In The Pacific.

“It’s a Pacific thing, where a male— because of who he is—might get better recognition than a younger, smarter, female who just does not compare to his network, or no one knows who she is,” Mrs Lockington said.

 

“It’s less obvious or less prevalent in the private sector [where] your education, your experience, your qualification has a higher priority.”

In the 112-page Pacific report, Mrs Lockington said career progression hinged hugely on developing one’s own networks.

More so in her case, as she lacked access to formal mentor programmes, the report said.

Mrs Lockington is the first female to the position in a decade, and has held office for the past five years.

She has served the industry through the national airline, a luxury cruise company, and public sector housing, for 26 years.

The association is 56 years old.

 

Chance to prove yourself
Mrs Lockington said the tourism sector was characterised by commercially minded business owners who “want somebody who is going to do what they say they can do, and they’ll give you a chance so you can prove yourself.”

Mrs Lockington said there were also challenges for women seeking leadership roles in tourism, including the seven-day-a-week nature of the business, and expectations for work-related travel and mobility.

“You’re expected to be on call all the time, so it does impact your personal relationships,” she said.

These factors can be a significant barrier to women taking on progressively senior roles in the industry, particularly given how uneven and gendered the distribution of unpaid family and care responsibilities can be, the report said.

“It can be a difficult business to get ahead in, but if you’ve got tourism in your blood, there is a tendency for you to stay for the long term, which is probably why I’m still in it.”

 

Success
Against the backdrop of such challenges, Mrs Lockington attributes her success to at least two things:

  • reliable, quality childcare, and
  • the networks she built.

While the women rushed off home because of their families, the men stayed back longer where they “knowingly or unknowingly changed information that women were not privy to.”

Mrs Lockington set out to establish a forum of peers to deliberately discuss work.

Source: Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative.

Source: Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative.

LOOKING AHEAD – Get More Women On Career Paths: Narayan
Krishika Narayan, the group operating officer at FijiCare Insurance Limited, has called for a push up for female representation at the higher echelons of society.

In a report on Pacific leadership, Ms Narayan – in her role as the former chief executive officer of South Pacific Stock Exchange – said women needed more opportunities to raise their hands.

But a large part of that required a change of mindset, she said.

“When we talk to women on the ground about aspirations, goals, and where did they see themselves, it does not naturally occur to them to they can have a career path.”

She also called for a change to the perception that women’s first priority was to their family, and second to their career.

The South Pacific Stock Exchange updated its rules of listed entities to include gender policy recommendations and reporting requirements

 

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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