Imagine if 7 billion people in the world don’t feel the need to be like somebody else, sound like somebody else, or feel the pressure to be something that they are not!”
Are you tired of hearing discourse about diversity but finds that the same people stay in the limelight and don’t represent the full spectrum of a society? Well, you are not alone.
My guest in today’s episode, Francesca Uriri, Head of Communications at Uber East & West Africa decided to change that representation and showcase the variety of women in Africa. “While it’s great to see the woman with the pearls on the cover of the magazine, it’s also important to see the woman who is in the market, who’s selling tomatoes, who is bringing her produce from villages to the towns,“ she says. Leading Lading Africa was born and has 77,800 followers today on Instagram…
About Francesca Uriri
Francesca Uriri started Leading Ladies Africa in 2011, a Women focused non-profit that is redefining Leadership for African Women. She joined Uber after working for Fortune 500 companies, social impact organizations, and start-ups. She specialises in corporate relations, reputation management, media management and content development.
Like many people finding her path was far from being straightforward. She didn’t know what she wanted to do except that she liked writing, meeting people and telling stories until an unexpected encounter with a woman in PR, who gave her the chance of her life.
Finding Her Path
Growing up, Francesca wanted to be Superman, then Michael Jackson and a doctor.
“I always thought that there are options to be many different things. I think that that still shapes, the way that I see the world,” she says.
She is always keen to evolve and get to the next level and is not afraid of challenges. Indeed, she joined Uber during a time of crisis for the company, when everything wasn’t looking so glamorous, to be part of the team that was re-telling the story of change and transformation that was happening within the company.
“It’s been a glorious wave,” she says. That bold move paid off more than she could have anticipated as she’s learned, achieved and grown so much in two years.
She tries to challenge herself daily mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, to break out of her comfort zone but it’s not always an easy ride she recognizes.
“It’s not always fun but I always try to keep that evolution process going. Because I think that as human beings, that’s so crucial to who we are.”
Turning 30 in 2014 was a significant milestone in her life; she felt that it was time to bring out more of what was inside her, her thoughts, her ideas and express them.
“I started to desire depth, as opposed to just surface living,” she says.
Then her father died the following year. This sudden lost gave her an extra boost to live her life fully, more intentionally and more purposefully.
She was fortunate to be raised unconventionally and has developed a deep sense of curiosity and openness and is not afraid of authority. Yet, she often struggles to reconcile being fully authentic and meet the demand of society where “you are asked to be different, but not so different; where you can be creative, but not so creative!”
Her unusual background meant that she was encouraged to ask a lot of questions and it serves her well today as she can have difficult conversations.
“I think that fear is a barrier that prevents us from accessing things that we can access,” she says.
A difficult work experience taught her how to manage up and conflict resolution. She thinks that these are important skills to have in the workplace but are not taught.
The Power of Compounding
Francesca believes in the power of compounding. We have to be willing to start small, learn, do the work to see our value rise with time and get paid what we want.
She also thinks that having a variety of voices and skills at the table is absolutely important and if she has to lead a movement it will be one where ‘the full spectrum of our diversity is included in the conversation.’
She simply wants to be remembered as someone who lived her life authentically.
“I think that the more authentic you are, the more authentic I am, the more we give others coming behind us the power to be their most authentic selves. And once we do that, there’s a butterfly effect,” she says.
Meaningful work, Meaningful Life
Out of all the lessons she’s learnt in life, Francesca thinks that resilience is a key skill to develop.
“Life can get hard. Lessons get super difficult, super hard. But how you navigate those turns, and how it makes you become is key.”
Meaningful work for her is doing something that goes beyond the paycheck and Meaningful life is doing something that drives you when the chips are down.
Her final words of guidance: “Live life fully, whatever fully is to you. Live life doing what is important to you. Don’t look at another person’s lane or another person’s and try to tailor yours. “
What is your key takeaway from this episode? What are you committed to do today to find more meaning in your work and live a more meaningful life? Comment below.
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