SOME people may say that I've made a few unconventional
choices in my life.
For one thing, I studied geography and business economics.
It may seem like a somewhat odd degree, but I've always wandered off the beaten
track in pursuit of the things I really enjoy and feel passionate about.
Although I had no end goal in mind when I studied, I ended
up finding a career that encompassed both elements and seemed like a dream came
true - the field of business geographics, where geographic data is used to make
strategic business decisions.
The environment has also always been a passion of mine. So
after many years in the GIS field, I became increasingly frustrated at the
general lack of action around environmental issues.
It was clear to me that South Africa would have to start
evolving into a low carbon economy for the sake of not only the planet, but
also its people. Using my geographic background and experience in data
analysis, I changed careers to move into the sustainability field.
I love what I do. Our company sustainableIT eats, breathes
and sleeps efficiency and we have made a commitment to practising what we
It's encouraging to know that, by protecting our physical
resources, we're also securing a profitable future for sustainableIT.
My decisions have opened my eyes to what women can do when
we follow our hearts.
When I think back to when I studied geography, I was daunted
by the idea that I would be joining a male-dominated industry, but I didn't let
my fears stop me from pursuing what I loved.
There are also more men than women in the IT field, but
people like Marissa Mayer show us how valuable women can be to the IT industry
with innovative thinking.
Although there are so many book that encourage women to
assume leadership roles, these often take the stance that we need to somehow
act more like men in order to be successful. I have always found that, in
business, women tend to think outside the box better than their male
To drive sustainability and the protection of our resources,
I firmly believe that women should be stepping up to the plate in South Africa.
For example, within sustainableIT we created a cloud-based
carbon footprinting solution, The Carbon Report, which provided a fresh and
innovative approach for companies wishing to quantify and report their carbon
Albert Einstein said that "problems cannot be solved
with the same mindset that created them".
We need change and we need ideas on how to change.
If we get out of our comfort zones and start believing in
our ability to take control of our own destiny, we can turn the tables on the
things that are unfair or harmful in our worlds – whether it's the environment,
child welfare or levelling the playing field for women in various industries.
My advice to women this August would be to examine whether
they are following their hearts, or just the paths that were imposed on them by
Thinking out of the box may not be the safest option, but
it's the most rewarding one.
* Teresa Legg is director at sustainableIT & The Carbon
Report. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women's Month
campaign celebrating women in business. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's
Women's Month campaign celebrating women in business.
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