CJ Kujenga emerges from sabbatical ready to lead

The sabbatical allowed CJ to focus on her family and she created a podcast called ‘Journey to Mother’.

With a successful career in finance, CJ Kujenga spent nine years as a partner at EY and more recently, was group CFO and interim CEO for Adcorp. Now re-entering formal employment from a six-month long sabbatical, her next stop is Ascendis where she takes up the role of group CFO.

CJ says that being on sabbatical during the Covid-19 pandemic allowed her to focus on her family. Like many parents, she was busy with home-schooling her four- and six year old daughters and getting through the unprecedented challenges of parenting in a pandemic. “My daughters are the light of my life. It was such a privilege to homeschool them and I’m proud of the resilience they have shown through this period.”

CJ is passionate about the progression of women from senior leadership to c-suite roles, as well as in their personal spaces and a highlight of her sabbatical was creating a podcast. The platform, called ‘Journey to Mother’, is a space for women who have struggled with becoming a mother naturally and have had to use so-called unconventional ways to get there. The podcast is a place for them to tell their stories. She explains that it can be such a lonely space when you yearn to be a mother and realise that you can’t get there without some intervention. “I hope this provides a resource to make mothers who have struggled realise that they are not alone.”

Journey to Mother is a project that is close to CJ’s heart because she needed assisted reproduction in order to conceive her own daughters. “It helped me realise the reality of fertility challenges and appreciate the number of people who are going through it.”

In a recent interview on Global Leadership Hypothesis she shares her reflections that as the economy kicks into recovery, she’s concerned with the damage inflicted on companies and employees. She asserts that it will be worthwhile to take a step back and ask: How can organisations be led in a different way and what is the new normal going to look like? “How do we make sure that we rebuild trust in corporate South Africa because that's my main domain at this point in time, but I would like to think it's a global thing. Organisations are having to make really difficult decisions right now,” she says.

“I'm quite keen to explore it more from the perspective of the workforce. So how are we going to get people to a point where they can continue to bring the best of themselves to the workplace after they feel that trust has been broken? I have no answers. I think time will tell,” she adds.

CJ thinks flexibility is important going forward and the happenings of the year precipitate thinking about doing business differently. “It doesn't take away from the need for profit. It does not take away from the need for viable organisations. And profit is critical in the ability to do the things that we want to be able to do in leadership. So, it is a holistic approach, but the way in which we work is going to have to change.”