AS THE only woman CEO in the car rental sector, people often expect me to comment on how challenging it is to work in such a male-dominated industry.
Often they are surprised when I say that being a leading woman in business is no different to being a leading man in business.
Getting the job done properly with outstanding service is what matters, irrespective of gender.
Men and women have such different management styles that both are necessary and complement each other. Because of this, the car rental industry needs more women and I would encourage them to think about entering this market because is it such a challenging and complicated environment.
No industry should be dominated by either men or women.
We as women have and continue to exceed even our own expectations. As CEOs of big businesses, influential government decision-makers and small business owners, we are also striking the balance of looking after our families and ourselves.
Many sacrifices were made for women to get to where we are today and while we pay tribute during this month and remind ourselves about how far we have come, it is also a good opportunity to think about the future of our economy and how women can play a more active role in determining the direction in which we want to go.
Against the backdrop of global economic integration, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are key promoters of the economy and business development.
Without them, we cannot move forward with new innovations, job creation and building long-term wealth.
The future of South Africa's economy lies in a combination of many small to medium enterprises and women have often been the ones stepping up to fulfil new business requirements.
South Africa's business landscape is changing and we need to adapt to it. Big business is no longer the only option for South Africans to join the job market and remain there until their golden years.
Often it is the case that people enter the corporate world and in so doing discover a new and better way to offer a service or product.
Just by observing emerging economies such as China and Brazil, it is evident that entrepreneurship has been a key contributor to their gross domestic product.
My position affords me the opportunity to sit down with high-ranking business leaders in the private and public sectors and discuss issues not only concerning the car rental industry but how business trends are changing and need to be addressed.
Government plays a crucial role when it comes to developing business and all leading business people, both men and women, should leverage their positions to make the voices of entrepreneurs heard.
For me, the South African tourism industry will always be a sector in which entrepreneurs have the ability to thrive, as it presents many opportunities for startup enterprises.
The number of inbound international tourists has increased by 17.8% in the first quarter of 2012 to over 640 000, compared with the same quarter in 2011. Even domestic travel is becoming more popular, as South Africans look for interesting places to visit that are closer to home.
Never before have women been in the position they are in today to take on more risk and pursue their dreams.
The role of women in the entrepreneurial environment is vital.
Transformation in certain sectors is important but so too is being passionate about what you do, identifying new opportunities and having the right set of skills to achieve the desired results.
* Dawn Nathan-Jones is the CEO of Europcar (formerly Imperial Car Rental). She
is the sixth guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women’s Month campaign
celebrating women in business. Fin24 welcomes your participation in the
campaign. Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could get published.
Previous women's month columns:
Get your hands dirty - Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group
Manage like a woman - Wahida Parker, director of Equillore
Four tips for working moms - Glynnis Jeffries, head: business development at Futuregrowth
Women a force for change - Amelia Jones, CEO of Community Chest
Don't be an ice queen - Nicole Fannin, financial consultant at deVere Group
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