Fanuel Kangondo Deputy Lifestyle Editor
To some, she passes as an ordinary business executive in the corporate jungle trying to find her feet, but those who know her will tell you that she is as tough as they come and has deservedly taken her place and commands respect across many boardrooms as she manoeuvres through the demands of leadership in the present digital era.
Eve Christine Gadzikwa has over the years successfully established herself as an astute business leader whose charm and ability to express herself has impelled her to positions such as director general and company secretary of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, chairman Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, chairman Institute of Directors Zimbabwe, member on board of Trustees Women’s University in Africa and chairman of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Standing Committee (Business Ethics).
She expresses herself as a humble, frank, honest, authentic and ethical business leader who values integrity in all her dealings.
Getting her to open up on her working and personal life was insightful particularly on what she views as the ideal business conditions to foster sustainable economic growth in this country in the wake of the decline in industrial production and depleted foreign direct investment.
“I believe that Zimbabwe is at a crossroads right now and there are some choices that we need to make, and some of those choices are within our reach, easy choices, while others may not be easy choices but at the end of the day there are certain decisions that we have to make and that will make a difference to where we are going to be in the next five to 10 years.
“I have been reading a lot about the story of Rwanda and there is a lot of history around the genocide that took place there but today when you go there you will not believe the transformation of that country, all because the leadership there decided to make some radical changes.
“They are admired in many respects especially with respect to technology and they have built the economy around service delivery and trying to transform from a country which had nothing to a country that has a GDP that is still growing.”
Mrs Gadzikwa said that Zimbabwe has loads of potential particularly in terms of tourism as the country had “the best weather” in the world and can sell Zimbabwe through the Victoria Falls as the best destination in Africa barring certain limitations regarding the country’s perceived high risk status.
“There are certain limitations however regarding the perceived high country risk which I believe we have to address as a matter of urgency, we can’t continue to behave as though we are in isolation because these things are real and affect the way we are perceived out there by investors. If we are serious about attracting FDI into this country we have got to change the perception of our country, we have to continue to engage with the rest of the world and I am happy to see that we have started that engagement process already. We need to tell our own story in a positive light.”
She added that there is also need to make Zimbabwe a place that is easy to do business in and improve country ratings.
Mrs Gadzikwa feels that there is need to also embrace inter regional trade and take advantage of what some of the bilateral and multilateral agreements have to offer. She said that companies should strive to be competitive as this would translate into lower costs of production in an environment that is now dominated by imports from abroad.
“We continue to export jobs and our forex into countries such as India and China because we are not competitive and we are slowly turning into a trading country and yet we should be producing goods for export and earn more revenue. This has resulted in the tax base shrinking and this is a very major concern to any investor.”
The SAZ boss said while the country has a brilliant blueprint, Zim-Asset, it needs a game plan and be strategic on how to implement it for sustainable economic growth.
The mother of two who has a strong Christian background said while her business commitments were demanding, she values spending time with her family with her typical day starting as early as 5am as she catches up with global and local business trends and leaving the office around 7pm.
Her husband, Celestine is a keen golfer and a businessman in his own right and is very supportive in her activities. She attends Central Baptist Church where she chairs Rafiki Girls Centre, a Trust and a ministry in the church that seeks to empower girls between 18 and 24 years.
Mrs Gadzikwa also takes time to mentor young professionals who look up to her as an inspirational business leader to build their confidence in their chosen vocations particularly in entrepreneurship.
“I enjoy travelling a lot and I must say I am very fortunate that my job allows that and I also find time to socialise with my friends. I can say that I am at that stage in life where I am comfortable with myself and I am comfortable in my own skin and enjoy a wide network of friends from all over the world. As a person I hope I project that image of somebody who is genuine. In life the most important thing to me is, yes you might measure success in terms of money or power but to me those are not the most important things. What is important is whether or not you are thriving and contributing to humanity.”
On her wardrobe, the SAZ boss said she goes for simple and elegant outfits although she also has love for African and colourful attire. She singled out Professor Hope Sadza of the Women’s University in Africa as one of the women who inspires her.
Mrs Gadzikwa holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Nottingham Trent University (UK), a Fellowship from the University of Zimbabwe’s Institute of Medical Laboratory and Clinical Scientist Council, Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management from the Institute of Marketing Management (SA) and several other standards related certificates.
Her working career spans over 20 years, of which 10 years was within the pathology laboratory practice and 10 years at senior management level. She spent six years at ZINQAP Trust as executive director between 1998 and 2004.
In September 2008, Mrs Gadzikwa was appointed to her present position of director general of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe. She has strong business acumen, a passion for promoting quality standards in business and has a solid track record as a leading captain of industry.
In her capacity as CZI Standing Committee chairman Business Ethics, Mrs Gadzikwa has played an influential role of engendering good business ethics in over 400 companies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Malawi including listed companies.
She has also played a pivotal role in the crafting of the National Code on Corporate Governance that will be launched later this year.
Mrs Gadzikwa has been honoured as one of Zimbabwe’s Top 20 outstanding Business personalities by Megafest (2012), Zimbabwe’s Outstanding Woman in Business — second position by Megafest (2013) and Career and Leadership Legacy Builder Award (2013).