Female Executives at Nando’s Aim to Encourage Women to Pursue a Career in F&B Industry
Shows determination to see more women make an impact in the region’s F&B industry.
As the world prepares to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, three of the leading female executives at Nando’s UAE have signaled their determination to see more women make an impact in the region’s F&B industry.
In the 17 years since Nando’s arrived in the UAE, the international PERi-PERi chicken chain with South African roots and Afro Portuguese cuisine, has increased the number of female staff it employs year on year. In 2002 Nando’s had 4 female staff in the UAE, which has now grown to over 100.
Woman now occupy a wide-range of positions throughout the company, from Executives to Restaurant Managers, Casa Nandocas (Restaurant staff), Operations Managers, Grillers and Call Centre Operatives.
Trudi van Niekerk, CEO of Nando’s Licensed Markets & India, believes that women bring skills such as empathy, optimism and intuition to the work place - all of which benefit the company by creating a more rounded and engaged workforce. As women, we also generally have a very collaborative style of management, which, coupled with our compassion and intuition inspires employees to give of their best. In a world where products and services can be easily copied and where consumers are increasingly spoilt for choice, maintaining high levels of customer service is critical for the ongoing growth of a business. Ensuring that your employees remain inspired and engaged is vital to meeting this challenge.
Female executives also sit at three of the seven seats around the boardroom table at Nando’s UAE head office.
These positions are taken by Leanne Bass, Head of People (HR, Learning and Development), Ruchika Sarfare, Regional Operations Manager, and Ketaki Shah, Marketing and PR Manager.
Leanne, Ruchika, and Ketaki have excelled in their careers and are keen to act as role models to inspire more women to achieve success in what remains a male-dominated sector.
“Here at Nando’s UAE we treat women equally to men and support them in their roles and give them the training and assistance they need in order to excel at what they do,” said Leanne, adding that the company currently employs more than 100 women.
“We have just launched a career succession plan that we hope will encourage everyone, and in particular women, to set their sights on climbing the career ladder with us. We want women to be empowered and have the aspiration and courage to grow with us, becoming our next generation of leaders within the organisation.”
Such is Nando’s UAE’s commitment to offering all its staff equal opportunities to excel in their chosen role, it is one of the few restaurants where women work as Grillers (a key role at Nando’s).
“At Nando’s UAE we always ensure that women are given the same opportunities as men, especially when it comes to promotions and new hires,” said Ruchika, whose previous roles with Nando’s UAE have included setting up its call centre operations and heading departments including Learning and Development, Supply Chain Management, and Compliance.
“We also encourage women to take on roles that stereotypically are regarded as ‘male roles.’ For example, we are proud to have some very talented female grillers who have consistently shown that they can do the role as well as any of our male staff.”
The idea that, even now in the 21st Century, there are still some roles within the F&B industry that are deemed to be best suited to men-only is something that urgently needs to be challenged, said Ketaki.
“Pre-conceptions about which gender is more acceptable for a certain role have to be eradicated. It is important that all F&B companies offer women ample opportunities to train and develop so they are armed with the skills and confidence to get to where they aspire to be in their careers and to fill any and all roles available.
Despite some positive changes, male staff still occupy the majority of positions, from front of house to boardroom level, across the F&B industry.
This is something that Leanne is keen to rectify as Nando’s UAE looks to increase the percentage of female staff it employs in the future. “It is my mission to have a strong female presence in each department.”
As for offering advice to women looking to start a career within F&B, Ruchika, who has 22 years’ experience in the industry including almost a decade at Nando’s UAE, has some simple and solid advice.
“Work hard, love what you do and always go above and beyond your job role to prove you have what it takes to move up in the company,” she said.
“Hard work and dedication rarely go unnoticed or unappreciated.”
In closing, Trudi van Niekerk believes that women need to support each other in their careers. Too often we are so focused on our own development and success that we neglect the opportunities which are available for other women around us.
In the words of the great Nelson Mandela; Let us join hands, in response to the call of women, for Unity, Peace and Development. Let us enter the new century with concrete results to measure our beautiful words.
The first Nando’s restaurant opened its doors in 1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, the Nando’s flame has spread to 1,200 restaurants in 23 countries on five continents. Nando’s is known worldwide for its succulent PERi-PERi chicken, marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled to perfection, and basted to the customer’s preferred flavor and spice. It’s equally renowned for its spicy PERi-PERi, the Bird’s Eye chili pepper that indigenous Africans introduced to the Portuguese centuries ago.