Funmi Babington-Ashaye is a woman who has achieved so much in her 30-year career
The sixth female President and Chairman of Council of Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, she is also the Founder/Managing Director of Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Limited.
She served as the first female Managing Director of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, one of Nigeria’s foremost financial institutions, for 16 years and quit to start her own firm.
With a job well done, she refused to be retained when she was appointed the interim Managing Director of NICON Insurance Plc by the Federal Government.
In a chat with JESUSEGUN ALAGBE of Punch, Babington-Ashaye speaks on a major challenge she faced while climbing the corporate ladder as a woman.
She also shared a strategy on how women can maintain a work-life balance.
I realised that as a female, I had to do three or four times what my male counterparts were doing for me to get recognised. Even before I became the Managing Director of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, at a point, a male was brought in because they thought I couldn’t do the job.
Unfortunately, the person didn’t deliver and when I was brought in, within two years, I turned the whole place around. So the challenge I faced most was that people rarely believed in me as a woman.
People sometimes think women won’t be able to deliver. It’s a major challenge and as a female, you have to do a lot for you to be recognised and given the opportunity to express yourself. I must say it’s tough for women.
Sometimes when I was in the office and my child was sick, I would have to quickly rush to the hospital and return to the office again. Sometimes I wouldn’t tell them my child was sick because by the time you started saying ‘my child is sick’ every now and then, they would just write you off.
So, women have to do much more than men, which is even one of the reasons I thought I had to quit someday or else so many things would suffer. As a woman, you have a home to run apart from work, meaning you have to work much more than a man.
There’s discrimination against women in the workplace because some people don’t realise women have homes to run and that if they don’t have peace at home, they can’t deliver at work. If you don’t have a settled home as a woman, you can’t just perform.
But if you have peace at home, you will grow in your profession. In fact, most times as a woman, you have to pay 70 per cent of your attention to your home to be successful at work.
A strategy for maintaining work-life balance
Pay more attention to your home than to your job. The job will always be there. And if perhaps you lose it, your family will always be there for you. This has always been my principle and I have made many sacrificial decisions because of my home. If you stabilise your home, your work will stabilise. I know many families that after their homes crashed, they started failing.