Interview: Precious Nkula
Precious Nkula's strong desire to help women to stand up for gender equality led her to the current role as the Chairperson of Vodacom Women Network Forum.
Precious Nkula is an experienced finance professional with over 19 years’ experience in the Telecoms industry. She is currently a Lead Specialist for Revenue Assurance at Vodacom Business Africa.
Precious is very passionate about women empowerment. Her strong desire to help women to stand up for gender equality has led her to her current role as Chairperson of Vodacom’s Women’s Network Forum. The mandate of the forum is to support the growth and development of women across Vodacom. The Women’s Network Forum is a platform made for women to champion the gender equality agenda within Vodacom.
1.Please let us know your current position at Vodacom and how long you have worked for the company.
I’m a Specialist for Revenue Assurance and Commercial Operations. I’ve been in this role for two years now. My role includes commercial business process mapping, policies and revenue management. As a revenue assurance specialist, I need to ensure there are controls and governance in place so that revenue leakages are eliminated and revenue and profits are maximised.
2. How has your career grown at Vodacom?
I started my career at Vodacom as a call centre agent. I have always had a huge hunger for continued learning, and managed to implement the gaining of new knowledge. Throughout my career, I have been continuously developing myself academically and otherwise. In my years at Vodacom, I have managed to acquire a BCom in Accounting and a Diploma in Project Management, and I’m currently studying towards a CIMA qualification via Vodacom Bursary.
I have moved between various departments from Customer Care, Finance, Managing Director’s Office, Enterprise Technology, Supply Chain Management, VBA Technology and Operations, and now Commercial Operations. My expertise includes but is not limited to financial operations, budgeting and forecasting, project accounting, supplier management, process design and risk management, and revenue assurance.
3. What do you think is still the biggest challenge to having more women in managerial or senior positions?
Women still find it hard to climb the corporate ladder and studies have shown most women drop out as they face a variety of challenges to growing in corporates. The lack of women mentors is a challenge to developing a new generation of women leaders.
4. What has been the highlight of your career at Vodacom?
I am proud to work for a company that supports women to thrive in their careers. As a woman at Vodacom, you have access to some incredible programmes designed to help you reach your potential. I am one of the beneficiaries of the Women’s Network Forum Mentorship through Wits and Women in Leadership, and I’ve learnt a lot from these programmes.
Serving as the Chairperson of the Women’s Network Forum has been one of my highlights. I am very passionate about women empowerment. My purpose is to help women understand their potential and reach their intended successes, and to uplift others.
The positive feedback we’ve received from people who have attended our WNF events will always be one of my highlights, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe we have managed to empower some of the women and provided them with tools to maximise their potential.
5. What do you think is the worst advice people keep giving women pursuing careers?
You can’t be a mom and work and study at the same time; you will not cope and you will fail. I believe this is some of the advice that is holding back women from progressing in their careers as they are made to believe it’s not possible.
Juggling between my role as a mother of three, my career and my studies has motivated me to always encourage women to see their unique talents and develop themselves.
6. Could you please give us a brief overview of what the Women’s Network Forum (WNF) is?
The Women’s Network Forum is a platform made of women, for women to champion the gender equality agenda within Vodacom. It’s a powerful voice for positive change, and has the ear of top leadership.
The vision is to empower women and to achieve a diverse, equitable gender representation in all leadership roles.
The mission is to create a platform where meaningful engagements are encouraged, allowing women to aspire and develop to their full potential.
7. What are some of the great things the WNF has achieved over the years?
- The launch of the Lean In circle in 2019 – The intention is to provide a safe place for women to connect, learn and grow together, and also to enable strategic network opportunities that empower women.
- 2020 was a very challenging year and as a forum we needed to come up with events that were more relevant and that assisted women to cope.
- Life in the Time of COVID (virtual event) – The objective was to assist women with coping mechanisms and managing anxieties during COVID-19.
- What if ‘what if’ happens? (virtual event) – How prepared are you should a ‘what-if’ moment happen?
- Gender-Based awareness campaign – The campaign was aimed at bringing attention to the scourge of GBV which has spread across the globe. We did this by posting black and white photos on our WNF website n support of the GBV victims and in order to bring awareness to the fact that gender-based violence cases were increasing in South Africa during the pandemic.
- Centred Leadership (virtual) – How women can grow as leaders (July – Nov '20). The Centred Leadership series aimed to help women to lead with impact, resilience, and fulfilment at work and in their lives. The five-part Centred Leadership series covered: Meaning, Framing, Connecting, Engaging, and Energising.
- Voice of Change event – An annual event in collaboration with other corporates with the aim of encouraging both men and women to be at the forefront of gender equality and to play a leading role. The objective of the event is to demonstrate how global organisations, irrespective of their business purpose, can come together to work towards common goals.
8. Do you have any advice for women pursuing careers in corporate?
Take pride in advancing your career, demonstrate you’re up for a challenge, and continue to network. Keep in mind that your colleagues are a great source of knowledge. Connect and converse with them about your career goals, your organisation and their experience, and they will be likely to assist you in your journey. Above all, remember that you are your best advocate, and deserve to be treated equally, so show them you’ve got what it takes.