In recognition of International Women’s Day 2022, we sat down with the Women of Micdee to learn about their views on leadership, their professional motivations, and the decisions that have gotten them to where they are today.

To kick off this series, we shine the spotlight on Kawthar Ugbana, our Procurement Officer:

In your experience, what do you think makes a great leader?

I think what makes a great leader is the ability to learn and follow, not necessarily lead. Everybody can’t possibly know everything and the ability to listen to your subordinate is key and follow in the sense that as much as you’re the leader you are also willing and able to learn from your subordinates. That makes it easy for your direct reports to be able to approach you, lean on you and talk to you without any form of fear or reproach.

In line with this year’s IWD campaign theme, how you do intend to #breakthebias in the workplace and in life generally?

I actually have a bias towards this year’s theme for International Women’s Day. I particularly do not think bias is only towards women; I think it’s a human-centered thing, so if we are asking this question relating to women like “how do I intend to break the bias with being a woman?” I should first be able to break the bias as a human being and do better for each person if we are really going to be honest about equality. So I think the way I’ll break the bias is by first breaking the human bias, irrespective of gender.

Over the years, have you encountered any barriers to your success or growth as a woman?

I doubt very much that I have encountered any barriers. I mean, I’ve been fortunate to work at very human-centered organizations so I wouldn’t say I’ve had barriers necessarily, but I’ve experienced people outside my organization thinking my position is being occupied by the opposite gender and just based on assumptions they regard me as ‘Sir’. Outside of that, I don’t think I have any barrier experience particularly.

Was it always part of your plan to become a leader?

No. As much as I am very vocal I’m also a very shy person, and once in a while, I suffer impostor syndrome. I mean, I just delight in not being the one that everybody has to roast so if I become a leader that means I’m doing better for myself and I’m growing really well.

What are some of the traits you admire amongst the women you’ve worked with?

I’ve worked with pretty awesome ladies and far too much of what I know is from their impact. I admire the fact that they have life goals and they are working towards achieving those goals. Things that would ordinarily not come to mind as impact for a lady, these ladies have happened to impart them on me; things that I might generally learn from a male counterpart.

Another thing I admire about the ladies I’ve had to work with is their attention to detail and their empathy; they are very empathetic, and yes they are kind. We need some kindness to go through the day every day.

What is the greatest risk you’ve undertaken in your career?

Maybe having to call my boss out. I mean, I could have been fired but I didn’t get fired. So, there’s policy, there’s process, there’s structure in every organization, and once in a while we might not follow through on them. This time it was coming from above but I stood my ground and said, “if it’s not coming the right way, then I’m not dealing with it at all.”

What has helped you build confidence professionally?

It’s the people. It’s the people I’ve had to work with. I don’t think it could have been any “aspire to perspire.” If you are surrounded by go-getters and you are surrounded by people who are diligent in what they do, you don’t have a choice because you’re not planning on being mediocre yourself. So, I just think it’s the people I’ve had to work with; their impact has stuck with me.