The Short Cut:
A quick fire chat about working life with Monica Shupikai Simmons
At the heart of the Nurture Network is the power of sharing experiences. From breakthrough career moments, to best ever advice, how to deal with stress and the women that inspire them.
The Short Cut designed to bring you a snapshot of our members’ working lives. Today we’re speaking to Monica Shupikai Simmons, Director at ICON Investment Bank
Tell us about your breakthrough career moment
My first real mentor was a white male, ex-FBI, loud Texan, called John McSwain. He changed the trajectory of my (business) life. I worked with him for two years and I witnessed first hand a business ethos that resonated with me. I try to live by this ethos even today.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
Have you ever felt held back as a woman in business? How did you respond?
Absolutely I felt held back. I have ALWAYS been the only black woman in the room. Whether I was in London or NYC. I always felt that I had to do extra/more. But for me, the biggest step back were the four “lost” years of my business life between the birth of my first child, through to going back to work a year after having my second.
To be fair though, after a rocky first year back at work, I have felt turbo charged since. My response at the time was to mitigate the “lost time” by doing my MBA in between having kids. It worked, but it was HARD. My struggles are featured in this article: http://helena-pozniak.com/education_article_62.html
How do you protect your mental health in moments of pressure?
I’m naturally good at compartmentalising my life. That helps; and two, I love to read. I read daily before bed and that’s how I decompress. Even if I’ve worked until midnight, I still read.
Do you have any hobbies to keep you busy in your spare time?
First, I love to read. I read on average two books a week; and second, I have a business www.kunakakids.com where I do my bit to encourage all our kids to embrace diversity.
I feel empowered when…
… I tick off my daily ‘to do’ list. Little things do it for me.
The woman everyone should know about…
The world will be a better place when…
…more women are decision makers/ at the table. EVERY table.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Cape Town, South Africa.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
‘Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett about a Cathedral that took generations to complete. I read it in my early 30s when I was struggling with the meaning of (my) life and something just clicked. My life is part of a long relay and I need to run my part as best I can. We are part of a longer arch in history. We must do our part.
It’s part of why I believe in giving back as a woman. Honestly, I could speak about this book for an hour!