Celebrating female employees in a male dominated industry

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform  – Diane Mariechild, Author of Mother Wit and Inner Dance

BY VICTOR ADAR

Mothers Day is not a public holiday but a day when people are expected to show appreciation to mums and mother figures. It is an annual event that is generally celebrated on different days in different countries. This time, it was celebrated on May 10. 

Though sometimes overrated, a tangible gift like shoes, dress, wristwatch, earrings, laptop or a car, money transfer, or a dedication message to a special lady in your life would probably go a long way. 

Corporates too have made significant progress as far as celebrating ladies who’ve broken the proverbial glass ceiling goes. In a bid to boost the performance of life and work, many companies probably try to compliment their loyal workers in ways that tend to improve their lives. SGA Security, formerly Factory Guards, is one of those companies. 

As the company turns 50, there was no better way to applaud some of its longest serving female employees in line with mothers day celebrated in May. These women have literally done well in a perceived male dominated security industry. Does it mean that they work in an environment that facilitates the enhancement of professional skillsets and career growth for women employees? Is it their dedication, professionalism and significant contribution to the growth and success of the company that they are celebrated? What makes them tick? 

Meet some of the hardworking female workers at SGA Mombasa region office.

In their own words…

Juliana N. Mbole, Assistant Human Resource Officer
Work experience: 25 years

It has been 25 years, and counting, working at SGA. The year was 1995. I remember vividly how I started working as Guardette. During that period, the security industry had very few women. Many would stare and ridicule female guards, saying we could not catch thieves because it was a man’s job to guard client’s valuables and his household. It was a very tough experience proving my capabilities. 

My hard work gave me an opportunity to be deployed in various assignments namely Indian Ocean Beach Club, Tiwi Beach, Travellers Beach Hotel, Nyali Beach Hotel, East African Matches, Polana Hotel and many other duty stations. I later decided to advance my career where I did secretarial studies at Pioneer Commercial. In the year 2000, I got a promotion to the position of an office messenger. In 2002, I rose to work as a registry clerk, assisting the human resource officer where I have served for many years. Currently, I am pursuing Diploma in business management. I attribute my career growth to our former human resource officer Ms Mary Kambi who saw my diligence and encouraged me to put the challenges aside and focus on the ultimate goal. 

I also ensure there is a balance by creating time for my husband and our child as I focus on my job and career. I believe in the spirit of teamwork, in both work and home, which enables any job to go on smoothly. I love tailoring as a hobby, which I have turned into dressmaking at home during my free time.

My advice? Challenges are part of life. Do not despair.

Jane Njoki Waruru, 
receptionist, member of Health Safety and Environment Champions, SGA Security

Work experience: 25 years

I first enrolled at Gymkhana Training School in 1995 where I trained as a Guardette. In April same year, I was employed by SGA Security and deployed to Nairobi headquarters. My first duty was to screen visitors and make inventories for consignment at Crown Berger until November 1995 when I was issued a transfer letter to work at the Mombasa office.

For the past 25 years, I have been engaged to various assignments in front office, Ambulance attendant and Cash-in-Transit departments here in Mombasa. In 2001, I worked as a filing clerk and tea girl. SGA enrolled me for an Ambulance Attendant course for one year in 2002 where I later worked as a paramedic from 2003 until 2012. I resumed to work as a Bank Marshal in the Cash-In-Transit department and administration clerk in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Working with various professionals and attending to visitors on a daily basis has improved my public relations skills, which is very vital for the company’s image and reputation. I have learnt to focus on what is within my control and work in harmony with coworkers. Every person, regardless of their gender, deserves the same level of respect and recognition because we all contribute our ideas, skills and knowledge to our respective companies and the larger society. 

I have a family that I cherish. I hence create my off-duty moments with them. I also volunteer to care for the sick and helpless by cooking and cleaning for them. I draw my inspiration from my mother, who is my mentor. She advises me to treat everyone whether young or old with respect regardless of his or her gender or religion.  

To young people; give emphasis to honesty, kindness, humility and goodwill in all your endeavors. These virtues pay off in due time.”

Beatrice Nduku Mwangangi, 
Easy Roster Operator, SGA Mombasa

My typical day begins at 6.00a.m to prepare my family’s day, ahead of 7.30a.m when I report on duty. Registration of daily attendance and contracts in the ER system, payrolls and compilation of monthly reports are some of my main duties. Joining SGA dates back in 2006 as a guardette. Six months later, I got a transfer to the front office as a messenger. I also have vast experience working as a human resource assistant and as an ‘Easy Roster Operator’, which is my current position. Notable days were when I worked in the Ambulance services as a paramedic for one year back in 2010. 

The road has been bumpy. As a mother and wife, most people still look down on women guards with the perception that men should be the ones handling the supposedly ‘tough-jobs’. Relatives and friends also judge us harshly, especially if you have an infant to take care of and a whole family needing your attention. Sometimes we have to alternatively work nights or sign off late. There are times I worked at barriers and main gates, which were too heavy to lift. We have managed, nonetheless, to wade through the mad and come out victorious, through the support of our supervisors who ensure we have flexible shifts and family members who have since understood the nature of work and how we can all balance career and family life. 

Humility, accountability and transparency, patience and perseverance and working with minimal supervision are some of the attributes that I have acquired as I learn on the job. I could not have achieved this were it not for the mentorship from my immediate boss Regional finance and Administration Officer who encouraged me to aim higher.

I advise young people to grab the opportunity that knocks on their doors without being selective. While at work, be passionate and a good team player. 

Caroline Oliech, Guardette,
SGA Security

I joined SGA Security in 2007. My typical day begins at 4.30a.m as I prepare to report on duty at 6.00a.m. My work entails manning the entrance and exits of one of the busiest EPZ factory (Simba Apparel EPZ, Mombasa) and maintaining on-site safety of people and client’s assets. Over the years, I have honed diverse skills such as good organizational skills, communication skills and interpersonal skills that have shaped my career growth. I have been able to work effectively in a multi-cultural environment where I meet with people from different backgrounds. 

In my line of work, there are some days I encounter arrogant, impolite and disrespectful. I have learnt to be patient and rational. The refresher training courses from my company have also played a major role in acquiring conflict-solving skills. My 13 years’ experience at SGA, at various departments has been a learning, but also a fulfilling journey. I draw my strength from my mother and son who encourage me to work harder. 

I use my off-days to bond with my family, cooking, reading books and watching movies.

My advice to the young people, do not be selective on the choice of a viable job opportunity. 

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