Think outside the box

Aug 29 2012 10:15

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 preach.

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 counterparts.

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 emissions.

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 conventional society.

Thinking out of the box may not be the safest option, but it's the most rewarding one.

 - Fin24

* 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.

Fin24 welcomes your participation in the campaign. Send your views to editor@fin24.com and you could get published.

Previous women's month columns:

Knowledge is power
- Mimi Viviers, key accounts executive at Connection Telecom

Sweet and simple - Sandy Wilde, head of Sanlam icover

Does money matter
- Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of the iOpener Institute for People and Performance

Starting from scratch
- Karen Short, founder and chairperson of By Word of Mouth

It's all in alignment - Anli Kotzé, general manager at Ladbrokes.co.za

Make it a team effort - Lulu Letlape, executive head of group corporate affairs at Sanlam

Life isn't like the movies - Judith Middleton, founder and CEO of DUO Marketing + Communications

Ramp up your fun factor - Marteen Michau, head of fiduciary and tax at Sanlam Private Investments

Map your delivery plan - Jackie Carroll, managing director for Media Works

Fine balancing act - Managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances

Small victories are sweet
- CEO of Save the Children South Africa

Head in the clouds - Marketing manager at kulula.com

The sky's the limit - Tsidi Luse, quality control manager at Lafarge's Lichtenburg plant

In the driving seat - Dawn Nathan-Jones, CEO, Europcar

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


* Follow Fin24 on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

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