Women in industry
Christine Ramon, CFO of AngloGold Ashanti
Inspiring women in the mining and metals industry
“The sector can encourage a more open and friendlier culture that sets targets in terms of developing and empowering women quicker, focusing on more flexible working arrangements that look at output instead of input.”
Coming from a single-parent family with four other siblings, Christine opted to study part time while working during the day. Christine recalls the hard work and perseverance that she had put into completing her chartered accounting degree. With a career that spanned a variety of industries, this proved invaluable in her path to being the CFO of AngloGold Ashanti. One of the highlights of Christine’s career was her role as the deputy finance director of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa in 1994. She found herself running much of the finances for the first democratic election, an experience that she describes as exciting and maturing.
Overcoming professional and personal barriers
While mining may have its challenges, Christine points out that across industries there are certain inherent barriers to women in the workplace. Women have to overcome the perceptions of others and find themselves working a lot harder than men to get recognized. To overcome the barriers, Christine recommends that women keep a positive mindset and not allow the gender issue to stand in their way. “Once you are able to demonstrate and prove yourself in the workplace, gender is really not an issue. You must be able to work as a team with both males and females and show that gender does not make a difference to you.”
One of the other barriers is balancing work and home life. Christine highlights the importance of having the right support structure both at home and in the office to achieve the balance. Particularly at work, she considers it key to have a team in which she can put the trust to deliver on their roles and keep her informed, enabling her to make the right decisions at an executive level. At home, Christine has the strong support of her husband, whose job is more flexible, and organizes extra help to make sure that the needs of her family are met. “Balancing work and home life is about structure, planning and team support. It’s important to have the right support structure in place. I wouldn’t say that I achieve balance all of the time, but for me it is about achieving it most of the time, and that’s good enough.”
Helping women to advance
Christine believes strongly in on-the-job training. She puts herself forward as a mentor, encouraging others to have ideas for strategic inputs into the company’s future. Looking back, Christine has indeed left legacies behind that she can be proud of, acting as a role model to develop and empower other women.
“Helping women to advance is not just about doing the right thing. Time and time again, research has proven that companies that have more diversity on their boards and in senior leadership positions do better financially.” Christine believes that diversity enables companies to cope better with the changes in market conditions and the changes in meeting customer demands. It gives the firm more access to skills to execute on strategy better.
Career advice from Christine
- There are times when things are going to move a lot slower than you would like. Focus on what is important and keep your mind on the job.
- You should appreciate the importance of building a network. Take up assistance when you are young. It can only make you a better person.
- Before you move into a leadership position, you should focus on getting the fundamentals right. These include completing your studies, getting the right work experience, taking pride in what you do and adding value. Then, you should set the right example.
The views of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily the views of the global EY organization or its member firms. Moreover, they should be seen in the context of the time they were made.
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