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  • Writer's pictureEQUALS

New horizons opened up by soft skills

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

14 July 2023

EQUALS Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring 2023 Interview with Victoria Maria Gonzalez and Nompendulo Pani

Nompendulo Pani is an accounting and technology student from South Africa who will start a job position in the retail sector soon. Her mentor, Victoria Maria Gonzalez works for Verizon Corporate Social Responsibility as a program manager. They participated in the 2023 EQUALS Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme, and reflected on their experience.

EQUALS: Please can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Mentor - Victoria Maria Gonzalez: I currently work for Verizon Corporate Social Responsibility as a program manager for Adfellows. Adfellows is a program designed to address the diversity and inclusion gap in advertising and marketing by providing diverse talent with meaningful industry experience and opportunities. I came to this role with more than 36 years of experience with advertising agencies (production, operations, DEI), and I am committed to the goal of making impactful contributions towards human prosperity. I love that I can take my experience and help to lift others UP.

Mentee - Nompendulo Pani: My name is Nompendulo Pani. I am 24 years old. I live in South Africa and East London. I have completed a short skills program as a Computer Technician with an A+ at Boston City Campus. I am doing a short skills program in Computer Networking N+ for 3 months. I will also start working in retail. I have been accepted at the University of South Africa for Higher Certificate in Accounting Science. Last year, I was doing the 4th Industrial Revolution and Digital Technology with SADICO. I am a go-getter, if I can put it like that. When I get opportunities, I always use them. That’s me in a nutshell.

EQUALS: Did you know what you wanted to do in the future when you were in school?

Mentor - Victoria Maria Gonzalez: I did not have clear idea of what I wanted to do while in school. I knew I had an appreciation for art and literature and a modicum of my own creative talent, but my abilities were too personal to share in a professional space. I developed an interest in traditional (print) production while interning during my college summers, but my career developed more fully after my post-graduation.

"I started from the ground up, but I found sponsorship, mentorship and hard work created a path for me."

EQUALS: What motivated you to participate in the Her Digital Skills e-mentoring programme?

Mentor- Victoria Maria Gonzalez: The EQUALS Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring program has been, for me, an extension of what I feel moves us forward as a society. Helping others succeed is my contribution for the future. I applaud this program and the impact it has for young women, globally.

Mentee - Nompendulo Pani: I was looking for something that would motivate me to do more and be confident. Also, I wanted to boost my writing skills or be skilled in writing (put something into words) because I was lacking in that area. And I was looking for an inspiring mentor like Vicky.

EQUALS: What was/were the most memorable moment(s) of the e-mentoring programme for you?

Mentor - Victoria Maria Gonzalez: I am working with my second mentee and both young women have been very well prepared. Despite cultural and communication differences, these women are clearly poised and focused and it impresses me so that they are intentional about their own development.

EQUALS: What did you enjoy most during the e-mentoring programme?

Mentee - Nompendulo Pani: I enjoyed all the topics related to soft skills. And of course, I enjoyed talking to my mentor.

"During this programme, I learned more about who I am, what I can and cannot do, developing confidence, self-appreciation, putting pride aside, being confident about what I’m capable of doing and not having self-doubt." - Nompendulo Pani

EQUALS: Is/are there (a) woman/women role model(s) you admire? What do you admire about her/them?

Mentor - Victoria Maria Gonzalez: I am inspired by women every day. There are too many to name. We are a sisterhood. I admire many women for their strength, others for their commitment to society, still others for their pure abilities in what they do every day. I admire most, women who can communicate clearly, and compellingly, inspiring with their leadership. I am lucky to know many, many women with these qualities.

Mentee - Nompendulo Pani: It has to be my mentor, Vicky and my sister. I admire their boldness.

EQUALS: Would you encourage other professionals to take part in the Her Digital Skills e-mentoring programme?

Mentor - Victoria Maria Gonzalez: I will and do recommend this program. The young women coming through Her Digital Skills e-mentoring are very well prepared, committed to their futures, and eager to grow and learn. and as designed, this program guides a consistent conversation that hones optimal soft (power) skills.

"It gives these already talented young women in technology, the 'secret sauce' that will ensure success."

Mentee - Nompendulo Pani: Yes, I would totally encourage other professionals to participate in this programme.


EQUALS Her Digital Skills was co-founded by EY, GSMA, ITU and W4, within the frame of the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. Its Generation Equality Commitment is to design and provide access to free, gender transformative, foundational digital skills training, e-skills badges, and e-Mentoring for one million women and girls by 2026.

EQUALS Her Digital Skills is generously supported by Verizon and is a proud #VerizonVolunteerPartner


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