Melbana Seifu Birke: Satisfied Within!

Melbana Seifu Birke, an attentive mother and leader, began her life journey in Addis Ababa.  She was raised with her younger sister among their parents and grandparents, and she spent her primary and secondary studies in Lycée Guebre-Mariam.  Her upbringing was a stable and positive one as her parents specifically and her family overall were really giving. She emphasizes the importance of an upbringing guided by supportive and understanding individuals.

Melbana received her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering then practiced for over six years.  She proceeded to her Master in Business Administration.  She recalls there was a phase where she was confused as to which field might work for her between architecture (like her father) and civil engineering.  Fortunately through time, it became clearer and she decided to become a civil engineer.  Upon completing her master’s degree at 29, her father passed away.  She had to take over her father’s company along with other family responsibilities at such a young age.  Taking over a company at this time in her life was one of the most stressful and hardest times Melbana endured.  She recalls those moments as ones that asked much of her, challenging her in every way.  The time and space she had extremely limited, she had to quickly learn to catch up with the company.  Suddenly leading the team in what felt like training-on-the-job, she was still going through grief.  Shouldering such a significant responsibility, there were those who challenged it as well those who were encouraging.   At the end of it all, Melbana is grateful for the support her family and her team had given her during that time.

In different phases of life, Melbana said, there has to be a change of priority.  Alongside her professional career, she spent her previous years doing intensive voluntary work in various organizations such as Rotary.  Until recently, the company was her main focus, but priorities have changed over time.  “Even though business took the majority of my life, after having my own family it came to my realization that balance has been my ultimate goal in my day-to-day life.”

All jobs—all roles in life—are important to Melbana, and full effort has to be put into the work we commit to take over. Every opportunity she gets, she seeks connections and what she can learn while transferring knowledge to others.

For Melbana, values are centered within ethically living and working as much as possible.  Doing what is enough and with moderation in each aspect of life regardless of the financial and situational circumstance is what defines Melbana as a modest woman. Her values and moral philosophy are cherished in the way she raises her daughter.  Melbana does the utmost work as a mother to enshrine the importance of having a balanced lifestyle without much cost.  As she was able to understand the significance of growing up in a comfortable and loving environment, she has made it her priority to give that to her daughter as well by making time and creating a happy environment.

Success for Melbana holds a broader notion; success can be achieved in every aspect of life.  From her own measurement, she says she is succeeding, and it’s an on-going path.  Her two greatest accomplishments so far are her business and her family.  Work is part of life; life isn’t composed only of work.  People often forget to recognize what life is really about.  She believes one should give time to reflect on themselves and take time “off” when necessary.

Giving back to the community is what brings peace to Melbana.  Regarding women in particular, she tries her best to share her time and expertise within her own spectrum.  This begins from being a great role model to other employees in her company.  As a woman, she recognizes the part she plays and the immense impact it has so she always works towards acknowledging other women in her company and contributing her most precious resource:  knowledge.  Acknowledgement is one of the preeminent elements of life that she has acquired from her time at AWiB.  She believes she is one of those natural leaders and sees a leader as one who ties up loose ends.  One cannot be a leader if she deems to know everything; there should always be willingness to listen and learn.

The older she gets, the more Melbana is grateful for all those previous years and months and days that have passed.  Gratefulness has been her expression for what life has to grant her.

“Beside the Lord, my family served as the basis for my current success and for who I am today,” said Melbana reflecting on her strength of character and success.  Both her parents have influenced her to look at the world in a non-discriminatory way, enabling her to stand out and helped push aside obstacles related to womanhood, enabling her to dream and be.  They taught her to be independent, and they showed her kindness by giving back to the community.  Family is the basis for all children and plays a major role in how they are shaped.  In addition to the strong family foundation, Melbana has learned the essentiality of having time with different individuals of diverse backgrounds and experiences, allowing her to soak up indispensible knowledge she may apply formally or informally—professionally or personally.  “Life gives us events, people and our surroundings so that we can take something from it.  That is life.”

Melbana’s message to the younger generation:

“The younger generation should listen to their elders; wisdom can never be underestimated.  Knowledge is essential.  The youth should grab knowledge anywhere and everywhere they can get it, and that knowledge should be passed on to those beside us.  We should learn to share part of ourselves and our knowledge with others.”

For Melbana, AWiB has highlighted various aspects of womanhood and empowerment.  AWiB is to be applauded immensely for HER work towards the recognition of women, she said.  Recognition is very crucial for a person who works towards contributing to the growth of the community.  There have been numerous women who have been recognized for their work rightfully thanks to the organization.  From among these Women of Excellence, a few have unfortunately passed away within the past couple years.  AWiB has been able to look into their achievements during their lifetime, which is one of the most appreciated aspects of the movement.

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