August marks Women’s Month in South Africa, and every year we set aside this time to celebrate women and their roles in society ─ whether in business, the community, or at home. 21st Century Executive Director Morag Phillips is a South African woman championing the workplace, while reveling in the balance of time with her family and friends.
While books like Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ address the challenges for women in the workplace, as well as how to balance family and business, Phillips believes challenges exist because of who you are, not simply because of your gender.
“Perhaps over the years I’ve experienced the need to ‘prove myself’ because of my age or gender, but on the whole my experience has been that it’s about the perception of the other person. Hopefully I can make it a more positive perception if we are able to engage and I can help them,” Phillips explains.
One of the challenges that Phillips has dealt with, throughout her career, is building confidence in a situation where she had none, as well as earning respect and trust from people who didn’t know her. “Another challenge I’ve had is to keep learning and innovating, so that our business doesn’t lose its relevance,” Phillips adds.
As a pioneer at 21st Century, Phillips is justifiably proud of her initial role involving the building of a salary survey. “We are very proud of where we stand today as a leading survey and benchmark provider in South Africa. My role is to direct the work we do in the area of benchmarking, whether of actual salaries or policies and practices. I have a general management role in the business at operational level, and oversee the HR function,” she adds.
As If all of this isn’t enough, Phillips is also involved in developing the stream of business through Africa. “I’ve had the privilege and opportunity of initiating and managing various new projects over the life of 21st Century. I manage and work with an amazing team of people and I see my role as a combination of leading and learning,” she further enthuses.
A dedicated manager and employee, her goals are aligned with company goals: to maintain a team of happy employees that will continue to influence 21st Century’s positioning as a world-class reward consultancy. On a personal level, Phillips would like to continue learning as well as strengthen her ability to lead, rather than just manage.
Keeping herself motivated and focused is easy ─ with three simple rules: remember the purpose, keep positive relationships with the CEO and colleagues, and always have something to stretch towards as there is always something to learn.
“The most important discipline for success, however, is never giving up, believing in what you do and in the leader you work with, as well as flexible thinking,” Phillips advises.
When Phillips isn’t leading the workforce, she spends time with her family and friends and “doing anything creative that does not involve a computer.” Creative crafts, family time, chats and exercise are the things that de-stress her.
It seems Phillips has certainly ‘leaned in’.
For more information on 21st Century visit www.21century.co.za