Fitsum KidaneMariam: Determined, Resilient & Genuine!

Fitsum, a radiant soul, with always a welcoming smile on her face, is a prominent AWiBer who has found her tribe since the first May Forum was held in 2012. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa, KUAS MEDA BEHIND ARMY HOSPITAL with her three other siblings. Her father had passed away at an early age and was raised in a single household. Fitsum was raised in an environment where education was a priority at all cost. After finishing high school, Fitsum took a longer route to achieve her degree in Management from Addis Abeba University. Later on, she also acquired her international Post Graduate Diploma from Cambridge, England through distance learning and her MBA in Project Management from St. Mary’s University here in Addis Abeba.

Fitsum currently works at Gift Business Group as Deputy Managing Director, Corporate Resource Management & Support Services.  She is responsible in managing the human and material resources forall fivee subsidiary companies that are involved in Construction, Real Estate, trading, Building & Manufacturing Materials. She has been in this position for the last three invigorating years. Her work entails strategic planning and creating system processes to efficiently manage their resource. She works to create outside the box solutions with the help of a supportive team members. Fitsum also provides training, her favorite activity, across the business group giving her opportunity to work with people in different parts of the company.

Fitsum has had an extensive work experience with over 26 years under her belt. She has worn many professional hats, starting with her first job as a full time Librarian at Peace & Solidarity then at Addis Abeba University while pursuing her Management Degree taking night classes. She climbed up the ladder at the University as a procurement department head, auditor and Admin Manager, all of which had allowed her to grow her leadership skills. With humility, when she believed she had conquered the government sector she decided to pursue other endeavors which lead her to join the world of NGO’s. She has worked with Action Aid, Plan International and Save the Children to list a few. Working in such environment encouraged her to be versatile, whether its to use her French lessons as an in-house document translator or be a team player and offer assistance to her collogues meet their deadline.  She also had the opportunity to work at Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) which allowed her to increase her professional network in addition to providing key learning experiences.

Being a meticulous and dedicated person, Fitsum values a strong work ethic. She holds herself and others a standard that each person should perform to their best of  abilities,  mediocre work is not acceptable. She is a person of integrity, steadfast in her decisions, which brings out her reliable personality. Most of all, she values her family and the time she dedicates to them. Friendship is equally important to her as she is a strong believer of that saying “Friends are the Family we choose”.

Anyone that knows Fitsum, knows that she is an ardent community service provider. Volunteering comes as a second nature to her, which she has done from a young age. Her mother who worked as a Health Practitioner at the Black Lion Hospital, would take her to work where Fitsum would enjoy spending time with the elderly patients, helping them use the washroom, feeding them and telling jokes to entertain them during their hospital stay. This embedded a deep sense of responsibility to the less fortunate and has become her life motto to help people. For over 7 years, Fitsum volunteered with a group that focuses on improving the lives of the elderly called “Eneredad Aregaweyane Mahiber”. She also volunteers at Meseret Charity that supports single mothers with children, Missionary of Charity and Mekodonia. For fitsum volunteering is a family affair with her husband and her son. She hopes that this will be her legacy to her son, to be of service.

Fitsum leverages her various network platforms to mobilize funds to put towards supporting students education who have lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. In addition, she also personally sponsors female students complete their education. Avidly provides mentorship to girls and young women professionals to guide them on their journey and shares her life lessons learned.

Fitsum’s most significant accomplishment has been to complete her Master’s degree while being a full time mother, wife and employee. She had a great support system that allowed her to pursue her love for education; Pursuing her Ph.D is in the near future plan. Changing her work environment by creating an organizational culture that celebrates not only statutory holidays but also commonly observed holidays like March 8 (Woman’s Day) gives her great satisfaction.

As a woman in the corporate world, Fitsum faces many challenges. The most common challenge throughout her career, an age old problem, has been resistance to have a woman who is petite in size, be a supervisor. Especially in a field that is mostly male dominated. She handled such challenges with grace and finesse, creating an open door policy and access to get to know her and her work to win over her critics.  Fitsum turns failure into a cause to celebrate for growth.  She is grateful to have had all her hardships along with the good fortunes that have shaped her into who she is today- a woman to reckon with.

Fitsum, a person dedicated to serving others, owes it to her hardworking mother, her role model and confidant. She is grateful for having a supportive husband who encourages her to pursue her mission in life. Her advice to the younger generation is to invest in their education. It is a gift that keeps on giving, regardless of your current circumstances.

Fitsum accredits AWiB for creating a platform where she could meet role models she could learn from and also give back in return. She never thought she would find such a platform in Addis. She considers AWiB as a sisterhood, a tribe of women supporting each other to let your light shine. With her infectious smile, she said “AWiB is my life!”

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