A woman who appreciates that influence is gradual and is a process that can only help her grow if she stops and reflects on the lessons and admits her mistakes, and moves forward. This kind of woman is powerful, not because this power is self made but rather, it is a culmination of wisdom that she allows in her life and the belief in a God whom she fears.
Lilian Githuka Thuku. A woman, a wife, mother, friend, sister and ultimately a servant of God, is a leader in her industry in her own right. Currently a Regional Human Resource Director. She leads with passion, she sees humanity within the said ‘cut throat’ cooperate space and has managed to display authenticity through it all. We got to chat with her about being a woman in the coporate world, her achievements and how she has managed to be herself without being taken for granted and still maintaining high standards in her work.
What experience in your childhood can you remember as a pivotal moment that inspired who you are now?
Living with my father during my formative years really shaped my outlook towards life. He was a training executive who used to travel in the course of his work. He was a confident orator, a societal leader and yet a man of high integrity and unapologetic faith in Christ. So right from a young age, I learnt that all these things could work together.
With regards to Lilian’s view of doubt and intimidation as a woman, it is clear that for a girl who was intellectually strong around boys, even in school, being intimidated was not bound to her gender.
Has being a woman ever made you doubt your place in your career in the past or now?
I don’t know that being a woman has done that, except I can say that there are moments when my socialization as a woman has made me hold back some of my leadership gifts in order not to appear too forward. But as I developed in my awareness and also seen how God used women with very different personalities and gifts to accomplish His purposes and to deliver destiny, I have become much more accepting of where God places me regardless of my gender.
Is it lonely to be a woman at the top?
Perhaps not in my day. There are so many people to lean on, both men and women who’ve walked the path before. However, it can be a lonely place to lead, in the moments when you know that you’ve done all the consultation that you can do and now you must own the decision.
Did becoming a mum/wife ever interrupt your career ambitions?
No it didn’t. I’ve always had a support system both at work and at home that allows me to pursue my goals. I would really encourage employers to harness the most from their female employees by allowing them the flexibility needed to balance their professional and family responsibilities.
In your current years, what have been your top 3 lessons that you have brought with you as a wife/mum/woman climbing up the corporate ladder?
Its is important to know your seasons, and secondly, seek the support and prayers of your family. It’s not either or. It’s both, and finally, don’t confuse the roles. They’re different. I’m lucky to be married to someone who understands my career and who I can share about work with, but I have to remember my role.
What are your thoughts on women and leadership?
Women not only have the capability for leadership, society in defining certain roles set them up to be strong and resilient which is much needed for today’s type of leadership where a position alone is not enough. The multiplicity of demands on women enables them to be quite easily adaptable, however we still have work to do to get over the barriers of our self doubt and our need to play chaperone. To believe that our capabilities and gifts are enough without actively seeking out to be liked in order to feel affirmed in our leadership or admitted into the club.
While speaking to Lilian she displays such calm whilst it is evident that the corporate and social roles she plays are like navigating a large ship in an ever-changing current… You can barely tell the weight she carries in her work place, her home and in this life.
The term leadership can seem heavy and intimidating especially in view of what womanhood over time has been portrayed to be, but the bottom line for Lilian, whether male or female, character is the bedrock, even when at the top.