Sophie Mshangama – Tanzania

Sophie Mshangama – Tanzania

Date: March 23, 2010
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Sophie Mshangama was born in 1967, in Lushoto – Tanga region, Southern Tanzania. She completed her primary education in Lushoto Primary School in 1980. After that, she joined Zanaki Secondary School and completed it in 2010. “I joined Magogoni Secretarial College, which qualified me to get employment at the Small Scale Development Organization (SIDO); that was in 1984. I worked with this organization until 1990, as a personal secretary to the General Manager.”

Sophie, armed with her Primary education plus secretarial training, decided to resign and joined the Business Times in 1990. This step pushed her to go back to school; she later joined Zanaki Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, taking evening classes.

“l completed my O’ level in 2010. The qualification lifted me to head of the HR Department at the Business Times. After my performance motivated my employer, l was transferred to head of the Circulation Department, the position l am holding to date.”

“As head of HR, my main duties were to see that staff welfare match with entitlements. This is in terms of recruitment, promotion, salaries, a friendly working environment as well as training in -house as well as in other opportunities so as to equip everyone to work effectively and efficiently.”

Now as head of the circulation department, she has to make sure that the newspapers are circulated countrywide. “This is different from the previous post; it needs alot of travelling to the regions. I need to follow-up as to how the regional representatives are tackling their tasks.”
At both departments, she came across some challenges. With HR Sophie says, she had to apply extra tactics in order to convince the management to create a conducive working environment to motivate the employees. One of the tools she found to assist employees who were eager to go for further learning by giving them loans which could cover their fees and learning materials, etc. Sophie claims that she has found this to be one of the weapons to impress employees to remain with the company longer. “There was a time when our company was like a learning institute; employees were leaving the company one after another. This was a big challenge. We had to sit and put down some strategies in order to overcome the situation.”

With Circulation, she explains that strong supervision is needed. Why? She says, accountability with regional representatives is difficult. If they are not constantly on task, it means that the newspapers are not going to be sold and this will create losses to the company.

“My first encounter with Gender Links was in 2010, when l attended a workshop on Gender Policy in the Media Houses. l was so moved with the workshop; from the beginning l noticed that l was at the right place taking into account my position of HR in a media house. Since then, l have seen myself differently. My working schedule also has changed. I am able to speak out, about the rights of women. My life also has changed.”

“Another very important skill l have acquired through Gender Links is that, since l work with media people, my interaction through GL has put me in another position. From that moment, l have found myself interacting more freely with journalists. l can conduct interviews, and take pictures. This is why, l am very active around 8th March every year; l join my fellow women to produce the company’s newspaper to commemorate International Women’s Day. I really enjoy this day. Only women are around during this day. Men are not in the office every 7th March when we prepare these special issues.”

Throughout her life journey, we have seen this media woman making a difference. She first stopped learning after Standard seven and joined Magogoni Secretarial College. After working for a certain period, she noticed that she was in a wrong position. She decided to resign and look for a different career, as well as go for further education. Armed with her O’ Levels, she was promoted to head of the HR department at Business Times.

According to Sophie, her worst experience was when she came to notice that, people who were working under her started leaving the company. They were looking for green pastures, looking for a friendly working environment. Sophie tried hard to convince the management to lay down strategies that should motivate employees to remain in the company.

Sophie’s best experience started during first encounter with Gender Links. She says, the workshop she attended in 2010 has strengthened her writing skills. Now she is freely interacting with newsroom staff, not as a head of department, but as a journalist/photographer. She believes that, only through such interaction, the spirit of success will come and make their company a place for all and not for the few.

Her interaction with Gender Links also has helped the organisation, as already, Business Times has a Gender Policy. She believes that, in the long run, this policy is going to make a great difference not only in their company, but in Tanzania as a country.

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