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C-Suite is Possible

At Shell, women are found at all levels of the company and occupy roles that a decade ago would have been viewed as being primarily for men.

By Shell South Africa on Jun 01, 2020

For many women, it also means devoting energy to breaking through stereotypes and proving that when they have achieved a corporate goal that they are worthy of being behind the desk they occupy.

At Shell, women are found at all levels of the company and occupy roles that in the past would have been viewed as being primarily for men. Women holding executive positions, however, are still rare, making the accomplishments of Shell SA’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Board Executive Director, Barbara Makhubedu more noteworthy. The first woman to fill the position, she has done so for three years after building a career with Shell over ten years.

"I would like people looking at me to see a person who works hard, is determined, resilient and has clarity of purpose."

Reflecting on women who wish to climb the corporate ladder, Barbara says that self-examination is required. It is about deciding how far you want to go and grow and identifying those who can inspire you to achieve your goals. Black women face the additional pressure of having to work exceptionally hard to prove they deserve their positions. As we get promoted and move up the corporate ladder, we must also inspire others just starting or building careers, that the only criteria for occupying a senior position is their ability and performance.

“The pressure is not to quit, not giving it your best is not an option because as the first black woman in this or any role, you are considered as a role model and a symbol that affirms that others can also accomplish whatever they set their hearts on. Ultimately, although you are doing things for yourself, you have to remind yourself of the fact that there’s more at stake.”


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