International Women's Day: Four Incredible Women of Enactus
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Enactus Ireland would like to salute all the women in our network who are making a difference in their community! To celebrate this day, we speak to four women within our network; Skhulekile Ruth Ndlovu, a student from Enactus UL, Lucy Mangan, an alumni from Enactus DCU, Róisín Lyons, a Faculty Adviser from DCU and Louise Kidd, a board director of Enactus Ireland. These women are an integral part of our programme as they empower one another with knowledge, support and motivation!
Skhulekile Ruth Ndlovu – Project Leader for Enactus UL and Business Studies student
What course do you study & how did you come to choose it? l am currently in first year studying Business Studies in Accounting and Finance. l have always been interested and passionate about numbers as every aspect of a business needs help to plan, allocate and mostly be accountable for every cent. As long as there are businesses around the world, my future dream of becoming an accountant will remain alive, hence why I chose my degree.
How has your role within Enactus enabled you to be empowered as a woman and how does your role enable you to empower other women? Being a leader for a project like ReStart in particular has empowered me to see that l shouldn’t be afraid of being different and that I should nurture any ideas of opportunities to give back to those less fortunate. Knowing that l could be of help to people in the world other than myself, that alone has enabled me to be empowered as a woman. Through Enactus l have been able to achieve the object of setting up my project Restart, which focuses on integrating asylum seekers, into Irish society through cooking dishes from their home country and selling it on campus, to gardening in the direct provision centre. I have attended national training events and entered competitions that have challenged me to do better and grow. Coming from a different background, sharing my experiences and understanding that being vulnerable and a woman doesn’t make you less of a leader, that allows other young woman to learn and take lead in any given opportunity. ReStart is proof of women empowerment as majority of the individuals involved in the project are females. This empowers and helps people to see the riches of diversity. One of our goals with this project is to reach out and empower women who might have an interest in a leadership position. This is one of the many reasons why I am proud to be project managing ReStart.
Who is your favourite female role model and why? Without a doubt, Shonda Rhimes is my role model! For those who don’t know, Shonda is a film writer and is best known for her work on Grey’s Anatomy. l love the fact that she embraces every aspect of life and doesn’t shy away from sharing her flaws and struggles that makes it real and relate-able. Above all, she is selfless and she makes it clear that she is human too. After all, it’s not about the status that creates a person but the ability to be build confidence.
Lucy Mangan – Enactus DCU Alumna and Corporate Citizenship & Diversity Assistant for KPMG
What is your current occupation? At the moment, I work in KPMG on the Corporate Citizenship & Diversity team alongside Karina Howley! I help to organise lots of different charitable events, from Enactus events to KPMG’s Pride Festival. I also look after the volunteering programmes that KPMG Ireland create and take part in ones such as Time to Read, BOLD GIRLS and the Mentor Programme with CBS Westland Row.
Was there anyone/anything in particular that inspired you to go down your route? I definitely think that being involved in something like HeadstARTS – art, drama, dance and music classes for people with intellectual disabilities – inspired me to reconsider both what I wanted to do post-college and the value I placed in being able to give something back to local communities on a day-to-day basis. As a teenager, I had spent a lot of time volunteering with different causes, mostly as a swim instructor and lifeguard but I can honestly say that HeadstARTS really changed my perspective on a lot of things. By just giving two hours a week to someone in need you can really make an impact on their mental health (as well as your own). The difference one person can make is just amazing and it’s something that I wanted to devote my full working day to, rather than volunteering as a hobby. I strongly advocate for all employees in KPMG to get involved in our different programmes and for people in my own life to get involved with any volunteering programme out there. Giving my time to volunteering made me realise that I was never going to be happy or fulfilled in a job that didn’t let me give back in some way!
Tell us about a time in your role that you felt empowered as a woman? Last year, to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffragette in Ireland, KPMG launched a new programme called BOLD GIRLS in partnership with Children’s Books Ireland. BOLD GIRLS features strong, brave and independent women who have changed the world in a positive way which has now been taught in primary schools all over Ireland. I was lucky enough to be able to not only contribute to the implementation of the project, but also volunteer for the programme! I went into a mixed 2nd class in Dublin’s north inner city for four weeks teaching the kids all about amazing women like Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Being able to open up discussions with girls and boys about the influence that women have had in Ireland and abroad was a great feeling! The final class activity involved each of the kids writing a line of a poem about what they wanted to be when they got older, hearing everything under the sun being shouted out by the girls (and boys!) in the class gave me a great feeling of pride and sense of empowerment.
Who is your favourite female role model and why? I have a lot of respect and awe for my mam, Wendy. She went back to college (when I was in college myself – healthy competition!) to study Social Care Work and managed to keep all four of us children in check AND get a 1.1! She also fostered children when we were all growing up, and I’m only beginning to realise now how challenging that was and how incredible she was to be able to manage everything that she did.
Róisín Lyons – Faculty Adviser for Enactus DCU & Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for DCU Business School
What is your current position in your institution? Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the DCU Business School. I also lecture in Saudi Arabia, teaching entrepreneurship to female Saudi students in Princess Noura University in Riyadh.
How did you get to where you are today? I always knew I loved teaching and told the teacher this on my first day of primary school (ever the swot it seems!). I qualified as a Chemistry and Biology teacher from the University of Limerick, and worked in a number of schools in Cork before returning to education to follow my second passion, business. I obtained a postgraduate masters degree in business management from DCU and found that I was deeply fascinated by innovation in particular. Like teaching science, I found that teaching/learning about innovation and entrepreneurship could be made deeply engaging, relatable and experiential. I was lucky enough to be allowed to follow this passion in both my continued studies and my teaching career in DCU. I have now obtained a PhD in Entrepreneurship Education and have lectured in the topic for over 7 years. While the above is a more practical answer to the question, I would say that I am in a career I love now by following my passions rather than the ‘set route’, and having the support of family and opportunities to do so. It has also taken a lot of hard work and coffee!
How has your role in Enactus enabled you to empower young women? I have always thought that my role in Enactus is to act as the scaffolding for my Enactus students. They are amazing young men and women, capable of such intense innovation and kindness. As such, they have the motivation and capability to pursue their ideas – I think it is my role to add some structure to their plans in times where they may falter. I hope that I treat them all with respect and honesty, and encourage them when needed. I think Enactus is a tremendous platform to encourage young women as each voice is considered both important and equal. Our Enctus DCU project leaders will always be the individuals best able to manage the project, regardless of degree, gender or age.
Who is your favourite female role model and why? Within the Enactus family, I will say my colleague Dr.Emer Ní Bhrádaigh as she brought Enactus to DCU and has always been a strong and outspoken advocate for equality and student needs. She is an absolute force with a wicked sense of humour and I admire her greatly. In terms of people in the public eye, I have always had a large degree of admiration for former president Mary Robinson. To me, she was a true pioneer and a person truly committed to creating change and innovation for her country. As a public speaker, she is so beautifully able to make complex subject matter understandable and relatable, and can blend it so carefully and tactfully with wit, pride and emotion – truly skilled.
Louise Kidd – Enactus Ireland Board Director & Head of Liabilities & Financial Lines Ireland for AIG Europe
What is your current position and how did you get to where you are today? I am currently the Head of Financial Lines underwriting in Ireland and the Financial Institutions Lead for Europe in AIG. I joined AIG in 2003 as an underwriting assistant and recognised quickly underwriting was something I was extremely interested in. I always try to push myself to learn and gain more experience. My two main approaches to achieve this are, firstly, to put myself forward to do more, for example, to gain experience in larger customers. Secondly, to push the boundaries of my knowledge and take myself outside my comfort zone, for example, moving to a new area of the business.
How does your role help you to empower women? I think one the greatest challenges to women in work is balancing work life with home or family life. I have been involved in the senior management team in AIG since 2011, just before getting married. I think continuing to expand and grow in my role professionally, whilst growing our family (I have three daughters, a six year old and four year old twins) empowers women and hopefully gives them the confidence to believe both are achievable. I would also act as a mentor to some of the up and coming females within our organisation.
We saw you were listed as one of the 50 Women of Influence in sport in 2018, which is fantastic! How do you think sport has played a role in empowering you as a woman? Having the opportunity to play GAA at intercounty level, I had the privilege to meet and play with some of the top players in the country. Many of whom were also at the top of their game in their chosen industry. Any challenges I faced either on or off the field, I had endless sounding boards and guidance from the girls I played with which I will always be grateful for.
Who is your favourite female role model and why? Sarah Keane (current CEO of the Olympic Council of Ireland) would be my favourite female role model for a number of reasons. Sarah has had a fabulous career to date leading up to her currently role. She is extremely passionate about women in sport, which is something extremely close to my heart. Any time I have heard Sarah speak, she really blows me away and leaves me thinking about 2-3 points she has made.