“It is time for men to see beyond the ‘Sex’ and look at the abilities and the capabilities in women”. These were the words of Mrs Ivy Manly-Spain, CEO, Hills Oil Marketing in an exclusive interview with Amazon’s Watch Magazine where she explains how best gender gaps can be closed in Africa. She also speaks about her journey to the top, and how women can key into business and other economic activities. Except:

In a few sentences, please describe the person of MRS. IVY MANLY-SPAIN.

Mrs Ivy Manly-Spain is an International business executive with a passion for excellence and success. She is an astute and highly experienced player in the petroleum industry, having successfully initiated and managing three companies namely Globex Energy Limited, Hills Oil Marketing and CEO Oil limited. Prior to this, she was the Managing Director for Parliament Travel and Tours and Shipping Agency in New York, the United States of America for over 17 years. She is also the Managing Director of Servistar Minwax (West Africa) Limited which has over 100 employees.

How did your upbringing contribute to the woman you have now become? What are some of the memories that you held strong until this time?

My father was a disciplinarian, who instilled good values such as honesty, respect, persistency, determination etc into us. Interestingly, I have come to realize that these are the values that drive business growth. These values have really helped me in my career advancement.

Did you have any fears, growing up as a young girl? What were some of your choice dreams and aspirations?

Fortunately no, because I had a father who believed in the girl child and was always ready to give equal opportunity to all his children. Growing up, my father wanted me to become a Nurse however, I rather aspired to be like my mother who was then a successful trading merchant. That was the beginning of my interest in setting up businesses.

What informed your decision to set up an Oil and Gas Marketing company?

My decision to set up an Oil and Gas Marketing company was informed by an observation I made of perennial LPG shortages in urban Ghana and my determination to help put an end to the long queues of frustrated LPG users at retail gas outlets. My aim was to ensure that the ‘No gas signs’ at Gas retail outlets become a thing of the past. By the Grace of God, I am proud to say that my vision of contributing my quota to ensure that LPG is available in every part of Ghana has been realized and it is one of my greatest joy and accomplishment.

Some years ago the Oil and Gas industry was a male-dominated industry. How did you break even in the industry?

Firstly it was my interest in the Oil and Gas Industry, Secondly, my patience to do a thorough feasibility study to understand the industry very well before venturing into it and thirdly my determination to succeed no matter the challenges.

Women have been tagged “weaker sex” and so were far from leadership positions in past. As the Chief Executive Officer of Hills Oil Marketing Company, you are assumed to be a strong woman. What are some of the challenges you have encountered working with men on the business?

Yes, women have been tagged as ‘weaker sex’ but I believe there are exceptions and I am one of them because I believe that whatever one sets up to do either male or female, with determination and persistency one can always achieve your aim.  I will only encourage my male colleagues to see beyond the ‘Sex’ and look at the abilities and the capabilities in women.

What do you think can be done to curb actions that bring about marginalization along gender lines?

First, I believe that equal opportunity should be given to the girl child; Second, women themselves should develop their confidence level and aspire to top leadership positions. Third, National policies should be framed in such a way that it will not marginalize women but rather encourage them.

Aside from your routine activities, what are some of the things that Mrs Ivy Manly-Spain does leisurely?

In my leisure time, I love to watch good movies, listen to good music and also love to dance.

What will you say is your opinion of National development especially in the African context? How do you think we achieve rapid economic growth in a short time?

I believe that Africans must first believe in themselves that they can develop their continent. They must trade among themselves, develop one currency, eat what we grow, learn to tolerate each other and avoid selfishness. With selflessness by all, Africa will grow rapidly.

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