Angela Ng’ang’a is Microfsoft’s Head of Corporate Affairs East and South Africa shares her top tips on getting to the top and staying on top.
1. What inspires you
I come from a relatively medium size family – have 5 siblings all younger than me but now all above 25 all either professionally employed or running their own businesses. Growing up as a first born there was always immense pressure to excel academically and later professionally as the parents would put it “set a good example” for the rest. So over the years we built a close network with my siblings were I helped them through their college years and later we developed a rapport where we help keep each other on check on all aspects (emotionally, professionally and spiritually). Being family we are able to say it as it is and that helps keep an honest balance in my life.
My three sons are by far my greatest source of inspiration, knowing that ultimately I need to aim to provide the best for them keeps me working hard and smart all year through.
I come from a God fearing home and so God is the center of a lot of the family and my own beliefs. My mum also plays a pivotal role in ensuring that we cascade Christian values to our families and always brings that important reminder of putting God first in all things and remembering to thank him for his abundance and blessings. She inspires me to keep the faith.
I aspire to succeed in all I undertake and so I make sure I put in commensurate effort into all my professional undertakings. I am not shy to ask questions where I lack the knowledge, research for best practice and bounce of ideas with colleagues for buy in and alignment.
One of my favourite quotes is “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark” and so my belief is that to have better tomorrows you need to put in the effort today.
As a communications professional my work heavily entails building the brand and interacting with stakeholders and this is no easy task. You need to commit time, resources, patience and commitment to the cause to consistently excel at this.
c) Social relationships
“You are the friends and relationships you keep”. I endeavour to engage as much as possible in positive networks. I actively participate in professional forums related to marketing, PR and brand management, I sit on both the PRSK and MSK councils and so a lot of the conversations and interactions around me mostly harness positive growth in my life.
And socially, my circle of friends stems back over 10 years so these are people that I know relatively well, we have a lot of things in common, our children are more or less the same ages, we share holidays and special days together as well as support each other in tough and sad situations. So in short my circle of friends are more or less family.
2. How do you keep going when its gets challenging?
Keeping the focus on the important things. In life you learn that trials and hurdles will always come your way and more often than not they make you stronger and in some cases also bring out the best in you. But my strategy is always to keep the eye on the ball no matter how tough it gets.
3. What has it taken to get to the top?
I think I still have some way to go to the “top” but so far to get to where I am it has taken:
a) Hard work and resilience: Let nobody kid you success will not come easy – work smart. You need to put in the time, be determined to excel, be prepared to expand your horizon (learn new things). You also have to learn to be diplomatic, how to keep positive to overcome difficult situations and embrace out of the box thinking as required.
At the same time all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl… I take time to bond with my kids, socialise with my friends and take some me-time at the gym or the spa. Sometimes in challenging situations just taking time to exhale is what you need to see a clearer way ahead.
b) Focus – to excel you need to be a consistent performer. Nurture the right support systems and relationships around you to excel. Walk alone – you fall alone. Teamwork often harnesses the best results and strategies adopted by many tend to succeed and get embraced for longer terms.
c) Determining my destination – you will never make it if you don’t know where you’re headed. Set out your career path, mark out your goals, have clear objectives and how to mark each milestone and then work towards achieving the set goals. And that’s why I can confidently say there’s still more of me to come I always aim higher.
4. What would be your advise for professional women on sustaining success?
a) Build your personal and professional brand
You have to be bold and prepared to stand out from the crowd to be recognized and picked from the crowd as “a woman of excellence”. Not by being loud or prominent but by being knowledgeable and hence resourceful, being a person of sound integrity and reliable; be result oriented your professional achievements should tell your story and be a consistent performer and people will entrust you with more responsibilities and in turn you grow.
b) Keep the right networks
Stakeholder management and engagement is key in globalization. Know your market well and those who can work as good catalysts for success at the work place which in turn leads to a successful career.
c) Work life balance
Have the right work-life balance – it is possible to have the best of both worlds. Plan your work well so there’s time for you and other things besides work. Take time out where necessary, if you have family have special and dedicated time and actions with them – they need you too. Keep healthy – work out, eat and rest well. You need a sound and healthy mind to be more productive.