"It is our duty, as women who have journeyed and are still journeying this path, to serve as a candle for the young women who are following us. There certainly is a new dawn on the horizon!"
Our #Mom Crush today is the gorgeous #Bosslady, #TechMom, #Speaker, #Runner, Cycler, Sunshine yellow personality and most importantly, Mom to gorgeous Teenager Zoe, Genevieve Mannel.
How I met Gen…
Gen was my boss. Yeap a whole Head of Business Intelligence and Enterprise Knowledge Management at a company I worked at. When Gen joined the company, I was on Maternity leave. I knew there would be a new Manager starting while I was away. I went to the office to introduce the baby, and there was this beautiful lady with a big smile talking to a team mate and another my friend who came to get me at the door says, “oh yes, you haven’t met your new boss, this is Gen” I’m like whoow! Stop! She is so beautiful, and my friend says “I know right?! You’re going to love her” Gen smiles and Hello with a huge smile and a hug and picks up the baby from the pram and starts rocking the baby and introducing herself before we talk about how I bored I am at home and want to start doing some work while I’m on leave lol.
Years went by and I have been fond of this lady since that first day, I have watched her dedicate herself to her Work, her role as a mother as well as in the development of those who are fortunate enough to cross paths with her, including myself and many other women in technology as that is one of her passions. I was not surprised at all last year when she was named in the 50 Inspiring women 2018.
MITC: Congratulations on the 50 Inspiring women award, I cannot think of a person more deserving because I know how passionate you are about tech innovations and the development of women in the Tech space. What does the award mean to you?
GM: Thank you for your kind words. When it was announced, I remember thinking wow, Genevieve, from Mitchells Plain, is selected as one of the top 50 inspiring women. In South Africa. Out of millions. I take my role as a role model, and leader in my trade very seriously – and to be acknowledged for the work I do, is phenomenal. And am appreciative of forums like MITC, who acknowledge women particularly for the role that they play in society and in their respective professions. Now, more than ever, I’d like to get involved in further initiatives, which would help facilitate the growth of women into the STEM fields.
MITC: On Motherhood. Zoe, she has grown to be such a beautiful and sweet young woman. How does it feel to be a mother to a teen who will be going to varsity soon?
GM: All of the emotions possible. Let’s first address that word, teens. Yoh. Being a mom of a teen will humble you. One minute you’re annoyed about something she did, and a second later, you realize that this child, SHE is YOU. I’ve learnt to choose my battles and accepted that this is where she teaches me to be a better me. Kids learn from what they see, not what they are told. And boy do teens push boundaries. So sometimes I need to become my mother / grandmother to reign the rebelliousness in.
Outside of that though, I am so very excited for her, and the life ahead of her. I didn’t have the opportunity to go study after school, so to have my daughter have that opportunity is such an unbelievably proud feeling. I feel like I have done good on the promises I made to the 17-year-old Gen. Which was to give my child the best opportunities I can, so she doesn’t start her adult life at a disadvantage. I want her to soar as her heart desires and not focus on things that her parents should be worrying about. She should focus on her schooling and be the best she can be.
But on another note, Zoe’s teenage years have shown me flames…. pray for me for the next 3 years.
MITC: You once told me about how you would answer stand by calls to resolve technical issues with baby Zoe on your Lap 😊. Can you tell us about your early experience of motherhood, what was it like and how did you make it work?
GM: And I was studying at the same time too. It was challenging, as Zoe had colic as a baby, and they usually don’t want to be with anyone other than their moms – and I breastfed for 18 months, so she was on my lap often. It was easy to give up and focus on only raising her and putting my career aside. But my WHY, which was to give myself the education to have a better life than I had when I was growing up, is what gave me that extra push on the days I was struggling. I have always been ambitious, and when I am told I cannot do something (which I was told many times), it drives me to do it even more. Sometimes being stubborn can be positive…I was too stubborn to accept defeat and give up.
MITC: How was your pregnancy experience?
GM: I was a penguin-wobbling blob of happiness. It was undoubtably the happiest time of my life. I wanted my baby so badly and delighted in every moment of her growing inside me. There was nothing more important to me, than getting my baby through the pregnancy journey and bring her into this world.
Its something I had always hoped I would be able to experience again…so we’ll see.
MITC: Did you have a birth plan for Zoe?
GM: I did, a 5-page birthing plan of me in a birthing bath with candles and soft music in the background, Zoe gently easing into this world, and me looking like I just finished a full day at a spa. What ended up happening, was me being rushed for an emergency Caesar which left me resembling a filleted fish as I was 7 days passed my due date, 9 hours in labour, and my baby was in distress. And, the worst part? Looking exactly like her father!
MITC: How has motherhood changed you if at all?
GM: It has made me slow down and think a bit more, before I acted. I’m always thinking about my decisions and what message this would be sending to her. I have also become a lot more interested and vocal in our country and its future.
MITC: What’s been the biggest surprise of motherhood and being a working mom?
GM: Even when you feel you are at your full capacity, when your family needs you, you still have a reserve to get things done.
MITC: What’s the hardest part of being a mom?
GM: Raising a child in the social media era. Social media, if not used responsibly, can be poison, especially to kids.
MITC: What’s the best part?
GM: Its one of the most beautiful things to watch your child grow and develop their own little personality and views of life. My daughters face is a carbon copy of her dad, so I was basically the surrogate. But what I am enjoying the most about her, is that when she opens her mouth, she is me. The way she speaks and laughs. It’s the sweetest sound. I also love how being her mom has made me a better person. I know I’ll have a bestie for life.
MITC: What values if any are you borrowing from your own upbringing in raising Zoe?
GM: Respect your elders. Always. And you get what you work for.
MITC: What advice do you give Zoe about the work space that she will be going into, especially considering gender equality dynamics and the role that Technology is playing in transforming the work space and changing ways of working?
GM: Currently, she is leaning towards a profession in forensic anthropology. Since she was a little girl I have taught her that her appearance does not determine what her role in society is, and she is quite vocal about inequality in general, which I love and am proud of.
Maths and technology skills will be requirements of most, if not all jobs in the future. It is something we have and continue to discuss through her schooling. We are looking at her starting a small business in the next few months, and through that, the importance will be that more apparent.
MITC: Being in a leadership role can be challenging, especially as a woman, it can be an indescribable stretch, what motivates you to keep going?
GM: You’re right, especially in the STEM profession. I’m always motivated by the team that I lead, and the customers who we serve. I love seeing others grow and excel in their lives, and as a leader, if you practice servant leadership, you get to experience this constantly. Sometimes the noise that clouds leadership roles detracts from the bigger purpose, so it’s important to be able to see the wood from the trees. How I do this is to check in with either with my mentor, or professional peers regularly. So, surrounding myself with like-minded people who keep me honest, is very important.
MITC: Have you pursued any studies while you are a mother?
GM: When Zoe was few months, I wrote the exams for my marketing diploma. I have also done my BA diploma and just completed a Retail Science Qualification. I’m keen to get started again soon.
MITC: If so, what words of motivation would you give to a girl/woman that has become a mother while they are studying for them to keep going?
GM: Continuous learning and ensuring your keep your skill set relevant is what will give you longevity and growth in your career. You must finish your schooling at the very least, even if you have become a mother while at school. Women are very good at multitasking and we are known for our resilience. So, use those skills to broaden your knowledge and skills.
MITC: Have you missed moments in Zoe’s life that you regret?
GM: I always had a rule (still do) that I will never miss her birthday and have kept that sacred for all her life. I have been fortunate to have had some great leaders who respected my role as a mother and allowed me the space to not compromise on it. I try to be there for all her firsts, and if I’m not, her dad is.
She attended all but one dance appointment, where I got the days mixed up, and went a day late – arrived at a locked building…I felt completely defeated and like I was the worse mom ever.
MITC: You are a working mom with a very demanding Job, a mentor, a leader to name a few, how do you balance all of it and still have time for Gen?
GM: Sometimes I say no. And sometimes I say not now. I’m very aware of burn out, and over extending myself. My spiritual, physical and mental wellness is very important to me, and I guard it quite carefully. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
MITC: Being the ambitious and committed woman that you are, how do you deal with the working mom guilt?
GM: It’s something that raises its head regularly, and that I struggle with more and more since she has been a teen. The time she needs from me now is different and I try to make up for my sometimes-long working hours by still doing the mom/daughter dates etc. Or just popping into her room for some “tea” – not the liquid type 😊.
MITC: How similar if at all is birthing and raising a company from the ground up to raising children?
GM: With both, the work that you put in, in the early years, will create a strong foundation for the future. Also, just because you have built a strong foundation, doesn’t mean take your foot off the pedal. It takes continuous guidance and molding to have a sustainable result.
MITC: Is there anything you feel is slipping through the cracks in terms of your role as a mother?
GM: My daughter loves my cooking. And I don’t always get around to it, because of my hours. Recently, the traffic in Cape Town has just become unbearable, so getting home early is becoming more and more challenging. It also takes away from our catch-up time in the evening…It’s something I am very conscious of and am working on improving.
MITC: What does the ideal future for Zoe look like?
GM: Living her purpose, passionately. I don’t mind what she decides to do in her life, if she is living her purpose, and she is happy, I will be happy.
MITC: Any advice for future and new Moms?
GM: Go easy on yourself. Becoming a mom is BIG - it all happens very fast, and you must adapt the second that baby is put on your chest. Spend the time you need to, to honor and process that transition.
Secondly, I would say, ensure your support structure is strong. Whether it is your partner, parents, friends, nanny etc. You can focus a lot more on your work, if you have the comfort that your child/children are safe and taken care of.
Lastly, buckle up for those teen years…aye, pray for me.
Genevieve Mannel X Mommy-ing In The City!