Women of Rubies



Lillian Barnard  is the  first woman to be appointed Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa since the company reinvested in the country in the 1990s.

In her words, She said, “My experience, combined with my passion and commitment to continuous learning and understanding the technology trends positions me well to be successful in this industry.”

Lilian Barnard

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree in Business/Managerial Economics and BCom Honours in Business Economics which she obtained from the University of the Western Cape.

Lilian is one of South Africa’s leading technology executives, and has held numerous executive positions both locally and abroad, and as such has gained extensive knowledge in sales, operations, business controls, strategy, business transformation and leadership.

She has invested over 20 years of her career working her way up the ladder of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry both in her home country and beyond the shores of her country. And clearly, her hard work and consistency has paid off immensely.

She is passionate about women empowerment, leadership, mentorship, technology and developing the next generation of female leaders.

She is also a Corporate Speaker, Mother and the Author of “I Hope You Feel Inspired”.

When she was asked how she has managed to scale through hurdles she encountered over the course of her more than 20 years in the ICT industry, she said:

“It is quite fortunate that early in my career, I was identified as Top Talent, and as result was often placed in roles which I felt required more experience than I could offer at point. There were three key learnings that I had, which enabled to overcome an hurdle I faced.

Firstly, I realised that my diversity of thinking, my tenacity and my passion for what I do are they three things that often enable my success in any task.

Secondly, I realised that confidence in my abilities – and finding this quickly – was going to be important as I progressed in my career, because I always had ambitious goals.

Finally, and this is still true to this, life is going to be a continuous learning journey of self- discovery that you are going to have to embrace.”

Lilian Barnard advocates for the inclusion of women in technology and encourages young girls and women to be involved in STEM as early as possible.

About her philosophy and how she is able to make the best out of every situation, Lilian said “I live with the philosophy that the only risks that we regret are the ones that we have not taken. As such, I focus on ensuring I deliver to best on all the decisions that I have taken, while learning and moving on from the ones that didn’t work out as planned.”


Meet Captain Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, inspirational and trailblazing – Nigeria’s first female to Pilot the gigantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Qatar Airways and to fly the Boeing 767 Aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.

Capt. Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo

Born on the 16th of October 1990 in Kaduna state, Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo is the last born child out of 3 children of her parent. She hails from Ogbomoso in Oyo state.

Adeola began her nursery education at Brighton International School Kaduna, and had a part of her primary education at King International School Rigasa, Kaduna before proceeding to First Baptist Church Primary School Kaduna and finally concluding her primary education at Temitope Nursery and Primary school in Ibadan in the year 2000 due to the religious crisis in Kaduna then.

She started her secondary school at Ibadan Orita Mefa Baptist Model School, then finished her secondary education with First Baptist Model High School Angwan Boro, Kaduna state in 2007.

Her tertiary education began with a pre-degree course at LA done Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) which she didn’t conclude because she had to proceed to the Nigerian college of Aviation Technology Zaria, Kaduna to begin her standard pilot course in the year 2009/2010.

She concluded her standard pilot course in 2011 at Sunrise Aviation Inc. Florida, USA.

She began a part-time course in Transport Management (Bsc) with LAUTECH in the year 2011.

She joined Medview Airlines in 2013 till October 2018, first as a First officer on Boeing 737 classic, and was later upgraded to Boeing 767-300ER. She joined Qatar Airways in October 2018 on the Dreamliner Boeing 787.

Adeola is the first Nigerian female pilot at Qatar Airways and the first Nigerian female pilot to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner across the Atlantic.

Her hobbies are reading (mostly aviation), watching movies and she readily lets the world know “I love God”.

Captain Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo is proof that nothing is impossible, if you put in the work. She says “I believe that we can achieve anything we want with prayers provided we put our mind and heart to it and stay focused.

Women have consistently proven that they can be and do and achieve what they want to achieve regardless of gender-based limitations.

Dr Assumpta Nnaggenda Musana, Uganda’s first woman to obtain a PhD in Urban Planning is one of such women that has risen over that limitation and is now a beacon of hope to young women all over Africa and the world.

Dr. Assumpta Nagenda-Musana PhD.

Dr Musana holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Urban Planning and the Environment from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, a Master of Science (MSc) in Architecture and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Architecture from Kharkov State University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Ukraine.

She is a Architect, Urban Planner and Academic, currently serving as a Lecturer at Makerere University, Department of Architecture and Physical Planning.

She is also a Principal Architect at Technology Consults (TECO) which allows academic staff to work alongside while allowing students to assist in their projects, a practice initiated by former lecturers at Makerere University.

Dr Musana’s design

In addition to her work with TECO, her research is focused on low-income housing and settlements in Kampala, Uganda.

Knowing the challenges that she was confronted with throughout her career, she mentors her students to be resilient and assertive against the gender landscape in the industry.

Let Dr. Musana serve as an inspiration to you this month that no dream is too big to achieve.

Jessica Nabongo is the first black woman to have travelled to every country in the world.

She is a Ugandan-American travel blogger and influencer, born in Detroit, Michigan to Ugandan parents.

Jessica Nabongo

In the last decade she visited 193 countries, lived in Benin, Italy, Japan, UK, (Washington DC, New York City, Detroit) – USA, changed jobs 6 times, launched two successful businesses and created the kind of life she wanted to live.

Nabongo, who grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and is the daughter of Ugandan immigrants, estimates that she had already been to 105 countries when she publicly set her goal in April 2018.

A dual Ugandan-American citizen, she spent time in East Africa as a child and teen, visiting her parents’ families.

She moved abroad to teach English in Japan in her early twenties and then got a master’s degree in international development from the London School of Economics at the age of 26.

She moved to Benin, in West Africa, to work for an NGO, then landed a job in Italy as a resource-mobilization consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

In 2019, she visited 66 countries, 46 for the first time.

She took 170 flights, spent 601 hours on a plane, and flew 244, 547 miles.

And on October 6, 2019 she had arrived in her final country (195), the Seychelles.

Jessica After Travelling Her Last Country.

The 36-year-old Jessica Nabongo is known to have founded a company called Jet Black, which organises custom itineraries for small group trips in Africa, plus sells travel gear like branded T-shirts and passport covers.

She is also a brand influencer, working with hotels and hospitality brands.

She holds a Master’s Degree in International Development from London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. John’s University, New York City.

You can follow her works and find out more about her here.

Jessica Nabongo is an inspiration that you can build and create the kind of life you want to live.  It all begins with setting a goal.

Dr Caroline Pule, (PhD) is a 30 year old South African. She is a medical scientist, researcher and advocates for women in STEM.

Dr. Caroline is a Philanthropist and Founder of Caroline Pule Science & Literacy Foundation (CPSLF). A literary foundation which helps establish science clubs in disadvantaged communities and to distribute scientific literature to these communities.

Dr. Caroline Pule.

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medical Sciences, Master of Science (MSc) in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics from the University of Stellenbosch, BTech Honours in Medical Biotechnology and BTech in Biotechnology from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Dr Pule is currently a Medical Scientist in the Global Surgery Division, Department of Surgery at the University of Cape Town where she manages the Global Surgery Research Cluster and conduct groundbreaking research work.

She also volunteers at the CrowdFight Covid-19 initiative, a global organisation where volunteer scientists from different countries are working together by adding their expertise in their respective fields to support the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Caroline is a huge inspiration to young girls and women who feel out of place and unsure about pursuing a career in STEM. She is proof that you can be successful in STEM and shouldn’t be limited because of your gender.

To further encourage women and young girls who want to pursue a career in STEM, she said:

‘Life is about choices, it doesn’t matter what family you come from, whether rich or poor; that doesn’t limit you as a young woman to pursue your career dream, to be that Doctor, Engineer, Scientist or Mathematician you want to be. All you need to do is be focused, vigilant, willing to excel in all you do and use every opportunity that comes your way to succeed.’

Be inspired to be all you choose to be!

Jumoke Dada is a 26-year-old Nigerian born highly inspirational and trailblazing – Designer and founder of Taeillo, a multimillion dollar afrocentric furniture manufacturing company based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Jumoke Dada, Founder, Taeillo.

Jumoke’s mission is to create furniture for Africans wherever they are in the world.

Before establishing the Taeillo brand, Jumoke has worked in top Architectural, Interior Design and Furniture manufacturing companies in Nigeria.

Taeillo Furniture.
Source: Pinterest.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Design and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Architecture (first class honours) from the University of Lagos.

Jumoke Dada has also participated in design competitions and design workshops and won some grants and awards including Tony Elumelu Foundation Award as one of 1,000 entrepreneurs that will shape
the future of Africa, Diamond Bank – Building Entrepreneurs Awards.

Jumoke also won the She Leads Africa Accelerator Award for young Female-led Businesses leveraging technology create better African communities and was featured on Elle Decoration South Africa as one of Africa’s creative doing something interesting on the continent at the moment.

Jumoke Dada is an inspiration and more.

Navigating life through one of the most historically devastating events of our time can seem impossible. Still, this sharp-witted social media maven has held the world in her palms (literally) and made a pandemic work in her favor. Danielle Paulo is the owner of Creative Haus LLC, a multi-million dollar all-female digital marketing agency, at just 28 years old.

As the closing of businesses struck panic into those around her, Paulo knew that this was the confirmation she needed to turn her passion for social media and digital marketing into a profit. With community being an important aspect of her life, aiding businesses in converting their online presence into sales are what created the spark into Creative Haus — making it a home of creativity, comradeship, and compassion.

Paulo’s deep connection and ties with service and fellowship within her life have contributed to the work she does daily for those around her. 20% of her personal earnings towards community service. So far Creative Haus has been able to feed over 500 homeless veterans on Christmas and New Years’, providing meals including soup, coffee, water, and hygienic essentials using company finances. They have also been able to pay for rent assistance for families in the church who were struggling during COVID, and have provided over 100 PPE items to a small hospital in Los Angeles.

While the Arabica beans at local coffee shops sit brewing under hot water, Danielle has been up and moving since 5 am, bringing the steam as she meets with clients so she can end her busy workdays around 6 pm. Her drive is her alarm clock, and her purpose is her strength to get through each day. Although she may make a load of building a successful company from the ground seem easy to carry on the timeline, she’s here to tell you how she gracefully handles her struggles and successes behind the scenes.

“Taking that leap of faith was definitely terrifying at first, especially in the middle of a pandemic. But I knew that a 9-5 job wasn’t for me and I have always told myself life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate.”

Danielle admits that her biggest fear in starting something new was not being able to expand, dreading that she would feel stagnant taking on her own agency. While social media and digital marketing had been under her belt for about 10 years, she’d never done freelance. She took a leap from security from her stable, high-paying job to a decision made solely on the faith she had in herself and the love she had for her craft.

Although through that leap, she secured a team of women who are always there to advocate for her when things seem to get dark. Paulo says that to keep herself from falling into her own doubts, she made sure to not think too far ahead, and take things one step at a time. Her tip to staying afloat amid the hustle and bustle is to allow yourself space and time to unplug.

“I wanted to start a business because at my last job I didn’t get a break at all. I needed time to focus on my own mental and physical health. It’s actually funny that I say that, because now that I have my own business I actually work MORE hours. But because it is for me, I am more passionate and the work is more rewarding.”

Paulo emphasizes that self-care is an essential task in any work-place, whether self-employed or not. In order to put 100% into your own work, you have to make sure that you are recharging yourself. She also makes sure to pour the same love, care, and patience that she has for herself into her team. Ensuring that all her employees exercise their creative freedom through projects that feel like their own has contributed to the success of Creative Haus in such a short amount of time.

“My goal was to never be a “boss”, I just want to be able to build a space where other creatives can be in charge of their own projects and basically be their own boss. It was never my dream to be a business owner, I just knew I never wanted anyone to tell me what to do. I trust my team to do good work. And because of their good work, I know our clients will always be happy and there will be revenue to fall back on.”

Her goal of fostering a space where creatives are allowed to do the things that they love has been wavering within her mind since she was younger. She was a playground for innovation, falling head over heels for the arts and the things that influenced culture the most. She knew that she would be the one to break traditions in her family, becoming a trailblazer for her own lineage.

“ I grew up in an immigrant household, they came from the Philippines for me to have a better future. There is this stereotype that Filipinos have to be a nurse or a doctor, but since my parents were so young, I told them early on that I didn’t want to go the traditional route.

I applied to fashion school when I was a senior in high school. I was interning in the fashion industry when I was only 18-19 years old. My parents never expected me to follow the traditional account, but they always told me that if I did not have a stable job after two years, I would have to go back to school to do nursing.”

Now, Danielle has the luxury of doing what makes her happy. Though she appreciates basking in her success, she does not want to overlook the things she had to sacrifice to be where she is today. As she recounts the countless hours spent building her brand, Paulo also remembers missing out on quality time with her loved ones and sacrificing many job offers. She’s had quite a journey to the top and is always keen on being transparent about her day to day struggles.

“I’ve failed multiple times. One of the biggest hardships was within the first 3 months, I was sued. I didn’t file the business name/license correctly so it actually affected my taxes. It was difficult for me to inquire about a business loan during a pandemic. When I was seeking sponsorships and investors, no one trusted an unknown agency. Considering that I also do not have a partner, I’ve had to do this all myself. Going through the trials and errors and learning from my mistakes has helped me grow. I knew failure was not an option because there was no way in hell I was going to go back to my previous job.

I wish more business owners would be more honest about their day to day stresses and worries. Along with the times, we do fail day today.”

Even though she does not want to glamorize overworking, she wants aspiring business owners to know that it is not an easy task to build your own company.

“I want to clarify that there is a difference between hard-working and being efficient. Especially during the pandemic, everyone was pressuring people to start a business and make money in other ways. This stigma is something I always hated growing up and still do. Just because you are not a business owner does not mean you are not successful in your own way.”

Along with advocating for any working woman, Danielle created the Creative Haus Agency with the intent to motivate the women who do dream to start businesses of their own. She knows that being part of an industry that is male-dominated can be quite intimidating at times, but doesn’t want that intimidation or the fear of failure to hold any woman back. As a company, Creative Haus brands itself as all-female and with a mission to support other women. Paulo states that until women get paid the same and there is no pay discrepancy between a man and a woman, she will always hire a woman over a man. With this experience, she wants to steer women away from feeling discouraged from pursuing their goals simply because there aren’t too many of us doing it.

Reflecting on her past and present has taught Danielle to appreciate all she has been through. And as she highlights that the road to becoming (SHE)EO was never easy, she wants others that plan to walk in the footsteps of many great, hard-working women to know that “taking risks comes with its challenges, but it also comes with its rewards.”

Source: Baucemag

Dr Wendy Okolo, 31-year-old Nigerian born multi-award winning – Aerospace Research Engineer and Special Emphasis Programs Manager at NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

At age 26, she became the first black woman to obtain a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington (USA).

She is an avid supporter of changing the narrative of underrepresentation in STEM, particularly for young girls, career women, and people of colour.

Dr. Wendy Okolo

In addition to her role as an Aerospace Researcher, she has served as the special emphasis programs manager for women, working to demonstrate and ensure NASA’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women.

Her initiatives include creating nursing rooms for mothers to ease their transition back to work and analyzing job language usage in position descriptions to remove gendered language biases that reduce female applicants.

Dr. Okolo is always a call away from giving a keynote, serving on a panel, inspiring the next generation of minority STEM leaders, and providing tools for individuals and organizations to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM.

This is all shades of amazing!


For a lot of people, learning another language is a herculean task. A lot of Nigerian students struggled with the French classes offered in secondary school and couldn’t wait to let go of the struggle as soon as they could.

A Nigerian born Favour Chisimdi Nwobodo has successfully achieved the feat of learning and speaking nine foreign languages  which includes Korean, Swahili, Shona, Indonesian, Filipino, Spanish, German, French and Chinese (Mandarin), all without leaving the shores of Nigeria. She also speaks English and Igbo and currently learning Yoruba.

Mind blowing right? Yes!

Favour Chisimdi Nwobodo
Meet Favour Chisimdi, the Nigerian Polyglot

You know what else is mind blowing? She is not a student of humanities. Favour Chisimdi is an undergraduate of medicine and surgery.

This is proof that you can do and be whatever you set your heart to do.

Learning a language that isn’t yours is a struggle but Favour endured and persevered through all the hurdles, nine times and that is why this is a great feat.

She is a genius, a cultural genius.

Cultural genius because a person’s language is an essential, inseparable part of their culture. So by learning their language, she has incorporated certain aspects of their culture.

Favour Chisimdi is the founder and CEO of Empress Linguistics Services, a language service provider aimed at providing linguistic solutions to Businesses, Brands, Entrepreneurs, Engineers and everyone at large.

Her services includes – Language Translation, Interpretation, Proofreading and Brand Translations Services, Advertisement in various languages, Language Tutorials and many more.

Join us celebrate this language genius!

Meet – Dr. Dambisa Moyo, inspirational and trailblazing Zambian born Global Economist, Investor, Author, Speaker, World Traveler and Marathon Runner.

She is a well respected pre-eminent thinker, who influences key decision-makers in strategic investment and public policy.

Dr. Dambisa Felicia Moyo

She has earned a strong reputation as a top-tier opinion former and trusted advisor on Macroeconomics, Geopolitics, Technology and Millennial themes.

She is a Board member of 3M and Chevron.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics from the University of Oxford, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard University, MBA and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Finance from American University.

She is recognized for fresh and innovative ideas as the Author of four (4) New York Times Bestselling Books: 1. Edge of Chaos,

2. Winner Take All

3. How the West Was Lost and Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working

4. How There is a Better Way for Africa.

She was named to the list of Oprah Winfrey ‘O’ Power List, Time 100 Most Influential people in the world; writes for the Financial Times, WSJ, Barron’s, Harvard Business Review and has travelled to 80 countries.

Dr Dambisa Moyo is a world leading economist and one of the most influential people in the world, as named by Forbes.

She analyses macroeconomy and international affairs and proposes economic and social solutions to some of the biggest issues facing our global economy today.

In our opinion, that’s just what the world needs.