The inaugural W-Suite Summit took place on Wednesday 7 August at The Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg. The summit was hosted by W-Suite founder, Kate Mohamed, in collaboration with Social-TV, Brand South Africa, JSE, Kaya FM, and Gauteng Enterprise Propeller.
Creating ways in which women from all walks of life was the theme on the event, tied together with the simple directive to “Lead Like Women. Accelerate. Engage. Inspire.” Guests were invited to dress in “fabulous” fashion.
Programme Director, Iman Rappetti, created a reflective and introspective tone before the founders address delivered by Katie Mohamed. Mohamed welcomed and thanked those in attendance for supporting W-Suite. She ended her address with the reminder that “Female economic empowerment is not only woman-to-woman, rather it should be a collaborative effort from both men and women.” said Mohamed
Dr. Mashadi Motlana, a specialist psychiatrist, clinician, and mental health advocate spoke about her work in “The Female Brain: the neuroscience underpinning how we love, communicate, what we value, and how we lead. Dr. Motlana highlighted the fundamental differences that exist between men and women in the hard-wiring of their respective brains. Motlana said, “It is important for us to point out unconscious bias and how we can put systems in place that ensure these biases don’t keep us from having women at the table.” Dr. Motlana uses her skills as a psychiatrist a businesswoman to bring about effective change in health-care and mental health more particularly.
Three plenary discussions followed the keynote address, focusing on Building the next generation of female leaders, The redistribution of power, and Conscious leadership, respectively. The first plenary discussion was facilitated by Zanele Morrison. A robust and engaging conversation commenced which concluded panelist Ipeleng Mkhari saying, “Representation is a huge identifier”. She said women in leadership need to ensure that other women see somebody they connect with at all levels, “Women need to be able to lead in spaces they feel represented.” noted Mkhari.
The second plenary, facilitated by Iman Rappetti, was a debate amongst the panelists regarding the redistribution of power in our society. Panelist Andile Khumalo said, “The good lord above knew what he was doing by putting women and men together on the earth. If we can find a way to collaborate where it makes sense, and not make each other enemies, we’ll see good things”. Nadia Bulbulia shared similar sentiments but reminded all in attendance that, “This conversation is so layered, we’re addressing a small layer. We need to remind ourselves of where we’re living and of the collaborative economy we want to build.” noted Bulbulia.
The final plenary session was facilitated by Kaamini Reddy. The conversation revolved around the definition of conscious leadership, and the personal experiences of the panelists regarding this strain of leadership. In closing, Viviana van Agtmaal said, “Live your life intentionally. If you aspire to something, put intent to it.” Make your money have a voice – if you want to see more female CEOs, put your money into companies with women CEOs.”
The plenary sessions were followed by a generous lunch buffet before an address by the final keynote speaker, Honourable Fasiha Hassan. Hassan addressed the disconnect that often exists between different generations of women. She called for cohesion between generations of women because “Women are used to “hold closed” the doors of patriarchy and this should be discouraged by women.” In closing, Hassan said, “We are taught to be ashamed of our womanhood. We must reject this idea of being ashamed of being empowered women.” concluded Hassan
Kate Mohamed brought the summit to a close with a vote of thanks to the guests and partners who contributed to the event. Mohamed reminded women to be fearless and said, “Beside every successful woman, is a tribe of other successful women.”