In the olden days, women were recognized as childbearing figures, and not forgetting they were made to take care of the family. Society had its ways and had a notion of a woman not heading anything, Rebecca Manford a woman signaling a beacon of force and power, young and determined to take her world by storm. From being a woman being a powerful speaker on different platforms and revealing to Zimbabwean ladies that with hard work and humility, anyone can be anything they set their minds to. Sylvia Changachirere managed to get an interview with Rebecca. It is presented in question and answer form:
Can you introduce to us who Rebecca Manford is?
I am a Chartered Accountant and currently serving as Chief Finance Officer (CFO) for a multi-million dollar company in the tobacco business.
What and who inspired you to be in such a position?
My parents are very key to the person you see today. They taught me the importance of education and made many sacrifices to ensure I got the best. They also always encouraged me to try out new things that I like without restricting me too much. I was allowed to be myself and that is how I ended up finding out that I am in fact (and blessed to be) multi-talented.
What or who helped you in climbing the corporate ladder? Like were there mentors to help guide you as a lady in the positions?
Many people at different intervals have been key to propelling me to where I am, and for fear of omitting any name I won’t drop any names- but trust me plenty of helpers and mentors along the way. What I can say is as much as there are people who can help you to get to any next level, if you are not prepared when the opportunity comes then nothing will happen. Someone can only recommend you to the next person if you have something to offer, otherwise, even introductions to powerful people can be useless if you have nothing to offer. So most of the work has to be done by you and you alone.
Besides finance was there any room for other dreams?
There is plenty of room for other dreams and I am already living some of them. I am a Pan-African public speaker and award-winning business executive. I love empowering young people and I founded a mentorship program called Manford’s Underclass. I also have a passion for women’s issues and you will find me on various platforms talking about these matters. I am a gospel singer and performer.
Ladies are said to multitask on many things, would that statement be relevant to your journey in the corporate world?
Absolutely. I have been dubbed an all-rounder. My current portfolio encompasses not only Finance and Treasury but Business Operations as well. Anyone who understands these areas can appreciate that they are so demanding and being someone who can juggle plenty of things at a given time is the most important skill needed.
I understand you have won some awards in your name and the line of business, can you help in listing them and explaining in brief what they mean to you?
I have won awards and I am so grateful for the chance to do what I love and be recognized for it. To me, it’s a sign and affirmation that I am living on purpose and it encourages me to continue working hard and achieve more. I have received this year:
- Megafest Women’s Award for Young Executive of the year.
- CEO Network- Outstanding Chief Finance Officer.
- Institute of Corporate Directors – 40 under 40 most influential people in Zimbabwe.
- Gumiguru- Award for Business Leadership.
My mother is so proud of me and it means so much to me.
As young as you are, you have achieved so much, what or who makes you keep wanting to do more and acquire such knowledge in finance?
I believe whatever level of success one can reach, there is always the next level therefore I will never stop wanting to do more. I want to be the best at what I do and I want to be able to make a difference in the area I know best, finance.
I know there are a few ladies out there that when they reach heights like yours tend to go astray or chase fame, what makes or rather keeps you so grounded?
The moment you start chasing fame you are missing the point. And you will do anything to get it. I have worked so hard to get to where I am, and I got there by merit, therefore I respect hard work and truly making a difference in my sphere of influence. Fame just becomes a byproduct but instead of being consumed by it, the more platforms I manage to be on I find a chance to teach what I know, inspire someone, and spread the news on societal issues that affect us every day.
In the corporate world we have heard of how other ladies climbed the ladder, was there an incident in your journey where you encountered such and how were you able to deal with it? If not, any word of advice for the many individuals who might be facing such?
Every woman will encounter compromising situations during their corporate journey and I am no exception. I am only grateful that I never chose the ‘’easy’’ way to the top. I can confirm that eventually, hard work will pay off, and if you are good at what you do, people may sabotage you or you may be treated unfairly but at some point, if you keep working hard, your competence will be hard to ignore and you will get what is due to you. Be strong, be bold and wear your morals on your sleeve!
Growing up in an all-girls family would you say you took the role of wearing the pants and become the head of the family?
Yes, growing up in a family of all-girls, and losing my father at a young age forced me to be responsible very early. I learned to fend for and defend myself at quite a young age and this helped me become the ‘natural leader’’ I am now. the pressures of being a breadwinner and knowing that people are depending on you will always push you to work hard.
Can you reference any case of challenges you encountered on the journey to success?
Yes, a partner who had no capacity for the woman I was to become. And I always say to young professionals both male and female but mostly females, that when you choose a partner and spouse you must make sure you are equally yoked. That the person will be a destiny pusher and not someone who will take your dreams and goals away from you. I learned the hard way.
What kind of words or advice or motivation can you leave for the young girls out there who are aiming for it big be it corporate or any other job
Being a woman is hard because we are almost already deemed inferior to men before we have even demonstrated what we can do. However, competence has no gender so make sure that you always do your best and you will shine and get your recognition. Use the fact that you are female to your advantage. You are different and there are very few of us as we go up the ladder, so understand that all eyes are on us. And when people are looking, make sure you give them a good show. Be confident as a woman. Shine!!!!