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Jamila Gordon: The CIO who escaped the Somali Civil War

Byron Connolly | March 3, 2017
“There’s literally nothing that can happen in business that can even compare to the challenges I faced early in my life."

Never let it stop you

During her long and varied career, Gordon says has refused to put up with a poor work environment and discriminatory culture. Still, she has been lucky enough to work in many environments where she is not judged due to her gender or country of origin.

“I don’t want to go back and play a victim but what I have learnt is not to put up with it. If people don’t recognise strong performance and give you opportunity, you need to proactively start looking and leave,” she says.

She says focusing on building internal and external personal and professional networks, not getting emotional at work and not taking things personally are also important.

“My background early in life has helped me with this. It’s also really important as a woman to avoid negative stereotypes that are unfair and almost never apply to men while being conscious of your personal brand,” she says.

She agrees that more women need to be involved in STEM subjects but there also need to be environments where women are empowered and given an opportunity to thrive, including making it right to the top.

“The way I see it is that it’s a great opportunity for companies like ours [GetSwift] where we have genuine inclusion and a dynamic environment where it’s all about talent and a diversity of people doing brilliant work.

“Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it drives better business outcomes. Over time, businesses that allow a ‘boy’s club’ culture will lose the war for talent,” she says.

She’s describes her own journey rising up the IT and digital ranks as “wonderful” despite facing what she describes as “some pretty awful behaviours along the way”.

“There’s literally nothing that can happen in business that can even compare to the challenges I faced early in my life. I have had my fair share of push back on my career and I’ve recognised when it’s happening and never let it stop me," she says.

"When I’ve had setbacks I’ve always been able to put them in perspective … I always make sure no matter what that I am on top of my brief and I understand my space. But I really do want to see things change to a point where women can genuinely play on a level playing field to men.”


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