Merissa Kambani is the Avenues Clinic managing director. She is a successful businesswoman in her own right and below are excerpts from a recent interview.
Q: Tell us more about your background and how you have managed to rise to become a successful woman in our society?
A: Divine favour, hardwork, perseverance and integrity.
Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your sector and how are you coping or how have you overcome them?
A: Especially recently, the health sector has seen many medical facilities mushrooming and providing competition.
When you run a good business, you do not view competition as negative but as co-opetition, which is more to do with complementing each other in terms of products offered by developing synergies and creating value chains. And even when you offer similar products, you need to stand out by giving value for money on your products and providing quality service. A good example is the number of fast foods outlets in town, especially the foodcourt concept, but there is always a reason why one chooses to eat from one and not the others. It is the quality of product and quality of service.
Funding challenges have also been experienced from our insurers and these have been exacerbated by the liquidity challenges and economic hardships.
Q: What would you say are the qualities of a good manager, leader or businesswoman?
A: Separation: Have time to yourself. Never be a darling to all. Even the Bible says so in Proverbs 18:1 and I quote, “Through desire a man separateth self.”
Quietness: Silence is never misquoted. If you are not sure of your contribution, it’s better to keep quiet than make a fool out of yourself
Wise company: Show me your friends and I will tell you your future.
The books you read: The better the kind of books we read, the better and more refined our thoughts and activities become.
Be principled: Good leaders are sometimes mistaken to be rude, arrogant or even bullies, yet in leadership one needs to be strong and when you are strong you remain principled. No one should apologise for being strong and principled when in a leadership role.
Have a strong personality: As a leader, you have to have a strong personality to inspire confidence in others and where people can draw strength from.
Vision: One should be able to produce more leaders and not followers and you can only build more leaders if you are able to sell your vision to others; if that vision is accepted then more leaders are born.
Pass the baton: Once you build up more leaders, you should be prepared to step down for two reasons:
lWhen you become a liability to the business and cannot add value to yourself and to the shareholders.
lWhen you become incapacitated or have reached retirement age; and please take note that retirement is not only on advanced age, but also when you are no longer able, both physically and mentally.
Q: Do you think women make their decisions based on their emotions?
A: This has been a notion pushed mainly by the patriarchal society we live in. This is far from the truth, although most women have been victims of this notion when being accused of making emotional rather than well-reasoned decisions. Women are passionate in whatever they do and this is always mistaken as being emotional.Women actually make very good decisions by using emotional intelligence to come up with well-reasoned judgements and decisions best for all involved.
By definition, emotional intelligence is about being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships.
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of financial success is due to skills in “human engineering” [emotional intelligence], your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead.
Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge. Additionally, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust, rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
Q: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
A: My biggest accomplishment is self-satisfaction through the achievement of personal goals.
Q: What or who has been you greatest inspiration?
A: My greatest inspiration is my mother who had a strong personality and that is where I borrowed the emotional intelligence which she embodied. My other inspiration is Jesus Christ whose wisdom I continue to tap to this day through his hidden treasure — the Bible. I call it hidden because it is the most readily available book but not many want to learn from it. Every management concept or strategy that you can think of can be found in the Bible.
Q: What is your advice to the next generation?
A: For all the young adults, I urge you to be yourselves and remain focused on your goal. Be unwavering in your beliefs and remain steadfast in your faith. Always get inspiration from the successful people but never ever copy. By all means be original and true to yourself. Strive to be different.
Q: What do you want to be remembered for?
A: I want to be remembered for good and for having imparted good guidance in line with God’s principles. To leave a true and interesting story which will be my legacy.