Celebrating Women’s Month A Little Differently: Michela Cutts’s View

Commercial Director of Sugar at RCL FOODS, Michela Cutts describes her career journey as a woman as “Never dull, ever!” After training to be an Agricultural Economist, she joined the South African Sugar Association and so began her lifelong relationship with sugar. This Women’s Month, Michela is celebrating the difference of women. “We are different, and that is a good thing,” she said. Differences come in useful, particularly in the workplace. “Women tend to bring a different dynamic to a business and while men and women are very similar, anyone who has both male and female kids will tell you the groups interact very differently, and that brings diversity in thinking and being”, she explained. Michela is inspired by multiple women for different reasons but her greatest inspiration is her mom. Michela’s mom got her pilot’s license at age 16, has repaired her own MacBook, started her own wall coating company way back in the 1970s, and moved to China to start the same. It’s clear that Michela’s mom doesn’t let fear hold her back, ever. “Nothing is impossible for her, ‘I can’t’ just doesn’t exist in her vocabulary!”, she said. Another inspiration to Michela is Mamongae Mahlare, who has just been announced as the Group CEO of Takealot. The sugar industry is a historically male-dominated field, making Mamongae Mahlare’s appointment as MD for Illovo Sugar in 2019 a milestone in the South African sugar industry. While significant advancements are being made for women in the workplace, too many myths still exist that stifle women’s success. As a woman with experience in business and in a male-dominated sector, Michela has this to say: “Women are expected to be nice all the time I guess, and people are not ok with it when we aren’t. The fact is, nobody would say a man has a ‘bitch switch’, so why say that about a woman?” Celebrating Women’s Month is different for Michela. While the usual celebrations are rewarding, for Michela, it’s about “creating awareness of the stereotypes around women and how we inadvertently feed them.” She added that the diversity and inclusion program at RCL FOODS is a great example of how this awareness is being created. In the face of myths and stereotypes, Michela’s encouragement is this: “Recognise that you are so much more than you appear to be. You don’t have to win every battle; make sure the ones you go after are meaningful and worthwhile.”