Maureen Nabulyato is a Director and Wealth Consultant at deVere Zambia, a subsidiary of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest Independent Financial Advisory Firms. She has also received 3 Bank of Zambia Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards. She has managed to carve out a success story for herself in a male dominated field, but how did she get here?
“It never occurred to me that I would be working in Financial Services , because of my education background.” She recalls, “I did Public Relations and Marketing, so Financial Services had never crossed my mind and it just never occurred to me that I could do this type of job.”
Going back a little further into the motivations behind her chosen field of study already showed traits in her character that would eventually propel her to her current position. “I wanted to do studies that would put me at the helm of a company.” She says, “When I was younger I thought I would be a journalist so I could be on TV.”
Maureen points out that it is important for people to explore various fields of work irrespective of their field of study, “A lot of people pursue a degree because it’s what their parents want or because it was the easiest course to get accepted into.” She says, “It doesn’t necessarily mean your choice of study is where your passion lies.”
Passion is a word that comes up quite often when speaking to her and it is something she believes is of paramount importance. “If you are not passionate about what you do, you can’t perform because you don’t believe in what you are doing.” She says, “I feel, passion is the key for anyone to be successful in any field.”
She says that passion has played a huge role in her career. Because of her passion, she was giving her all to her job even before she was promoted to a position of leadership. This made the transition into leadership easier for her. “No one had to tell me, ‘now that you’re a director you need to act a certain way’” She recalls, “I always believed I was a boss, before I was a boss, because of the passion that I have for the job.”
Maureen’s journey was not always a smooth one. “Previously I had worked in organisations where no matter how much you worked, if you didn’t know the boss or the boss didn’t like you, you wouldn’t be promoted.”
She worked at a company for a number of years but never got a promotion no matter how hard she worked. Initially, she attributed this to her lack of qualifications at the time. “For the life of me I thought I was not promoted because I had a diploma and didn’t have a degree.” She remembers, “So then I started working on going to school and that’s when I started doing my Public Relations degree.”
After 4 years, she got her degree, and she thought that this qualification coupled with her lengthy experience would get her a shoe in the door and help her to get a promotion. However, no promotion was forthcoming. “That’s when it hit me that you can do so much work at this company but if you don’t have the connections then you will still be in the same position.” She recalls, “It was very frustrating for as I have always been the type of employee who will be at work on time and never be off sick, unless I can’t help it. So I was putting in a hundred per cent and if I’m putting in a hundred per cent, I expect the company that I work for to meet me halfway.”
Her frustrations, culminating in a period where recent University graduates who she would train would be promoted ahead of her, eventually led to her leaving even without securing another job. “It wasn’t just about the promotion. I felt under utilised. I felt like I could offer more to the company.”
As she waited for the right opportunity to turn up she worked for free at major International Airline where the only thing she was offered was a uniform and transport to and from work. She took the job to keep herself from staying idle and she learnt an important lesson along the way, to keep working hard in spite of the circumstances. She may not have had a salary but says she would receive tips every other day due to her enthusiasm and work ethic.
She says that all her prior experiences in these roles were important in moulding her and preparing her for her current success and all the challenges she has had to face along the way. One challenge she’s had to face is proving herself in what has, traditionally, been a male dominated field. “Some of the challenges I have had to face were because I am a woman. In the beginning I wasn’t getting the same respect as my male counterparts.” She says, “I had to work harder than a man would in order to receive the same level of respect that they have.”
Another challenge that she has had to face is balancing her work and personal life. “There’s no 100% balance.” She says, “There’s always an area of your life that will suffer. Because I have this demanding job, there’s certain times when I won’t be able to be a mother to my children.” However, she has been able to find something of a balance by carving out time that is completely set aside for her personal life and her responsibilities as a mother. “I dedicate the time with my children wholly to them to compensate for the times when I am not able to be there.” She says, “I can’t cook for them everyday but when I can I make sure that I do their favourite meals, I make sure that I’m there with them and laugh at all their jokes even if they’re not funny!”
One of Maureen’s proudest moments came in 2017 when she was nominated for the Bank of Zambia Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for individual contribution to financial education in Zambia. She went on to win this award both in 2017 and 2018. Her nomination and victory was predominantly because of work she does outside her job to raise awareness of financial services through Social Media and speaking at various events.
Having achieved so much, where does she see herself in the next 5-10 years? “I’d like to be a Regional Director,” she says. This position would put her in charge of the entire African arm of the business. “Right now we have offices in Zambia, Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and by the time I’m Regional Director hopefully there will be more offices.” She continued. There’s no hint of doubt in the tone of her voice or her choice of words when she says, “By the time I’m Regional Director.” Just a calm steely sense of self-assurance. It has gotten her this far and, from the looks of things, is set to propel her even further.