As this year’s Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Award draws closer, we sit down with a nominee from last year, Nomonde White who co-heads Group Infrastructure Services at Absa.
ELLE: What do you do?
Nomonde White (NW): I co-head Group Infrastructure Services, one of the largest technology divisions at the Absa Group. I am responsible for the technology division’s priority and flagship programmes that are currently driving the group’s strategy such as building a pan-African, digitally-led business and most importantly some of our business’ key separation programmes and initiatives.
ELLE: What was the best thing about being part of the Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Award?
NW: I am passionate about female excellence, and one of the beautiful things about the Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Award was seeing and being amongst some of our country’s talented, up and coming, and accomplished leaders. To be validated both personally and professionally, on a platform such as this, was one of the most humbling experiences in my leadership journey thus far.
We have made tremendous progress thus far as a nation and we still have work to do in organisations to see more women and black women in boardrooms and around decision-making tables. I am grateful to the Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Award for the recognition and I’m excited to see more women receiving the same.
ELLE: What is your greatest achievement so far?
NW: Being at a point where I am able to do my bit to help others and drive causes I am passionate about.
I live by the credo ‘To whom much is given, much is required’. The opportunities I was afforded in my career were a result of females who were in senior positions in technology, who recognised my potential and made sure that they cleared the path for me, and also made sure that I got access to what I needed to succeed. It’s my responsibility to take on the mantle and carry the torch forward.
ELLE: What is it like being a female, in often male-dominated fields?
NW: I have been fortunate to work for some exceptional men and women, from whom I learnt a great deal about the kind of leader I did and didn’t want to be. Working for high-achieving women in the technology space gave me unique insight into what it takes to be tough in a technically demanding, male-dominated industry, but without losing your femininity or the attributes that make women so well suited to this environment.
I was also fortunate to hold several senior roles at a relatively young age. Being thrown in at the deep end is the fastest way to learn that you are capable of so much more than you think.
Technology in particular is a male-dominated space, but do I feel inferior, or that I am less valued? Definitely not.
ELLE: What are you working on currently?
NW: As part of the business’ diversity committee, I am quite involved with dialogue and discourse around diversity and transformation currently. The organisation has prioritised and emphasised transformation, [something that] I’m particularly passionate about.
Personally, I am consistently in the quest to improve myself, I have embarked on a journey to pursue my MBA.
ELLE: What are the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
NW: It would be naïve and presumptuous to assume equality for women in any corporate space. As you get further up the corporate ladder you tend to lose the women who want to have families and need to take time out in order to do this.
One of the challenges I faced was when I became a mother [was that] I was worried about missing opportunities and having to ‘reset’ my career as a result, and sadly, this detracted from the joy of having a new family and child.
ELLE: What do you wish young people knew about starting a business/working in a corporate environment?
NW: That it’s all hard work, and hard work certainly pays off. Certainly working in a corporate environment requires that one remains true to self and authentic. I encourage young people to pursue their passions first, and the rest will fall in place. Doing what one loves is half the battle and motivation enough to wake up each day.
ELLE: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
NW: Oprah Winfrey once said: ‘Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not’.
If you feel you have what it takes to be the next Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss, or know someone who you feel deserves this coveted title, click here to enter.