October 26, 2023

Back to blogs

Breaking Gender Stereotypes: Vickie Neighbour’s Journey

Author:

Overview:

  • Vickie Neighbour believes that being confident and believing in herself is a game changer. 
  • Facing her vulnerability is the only way to overcome it.
  • Fallbacks, mistakes, loss, and disappointment are all part of the journey.
  • She knows what brings her contentment and go after those things in life.

1. Tell us a bit about your childhood and how it influenced who you are today.

I grew up in South Carolina and was the youngest of four siblings. My father was an entrepreneur, running a products business. My mother was expected to stay home as my dad provided for the family. From a young age, I got the message that girls belonged in the household. For the first twenty-five years of my life, I didn’t think there was a role for me outside of being a wife and a mother.

To quote one incident, on one Saturday morning, I was playing with my Barbie dolls in little footie pajamas as a child. My dad called my brother to accompany him to an auction, where he bought equipment. I followed, excited to join them, but he said, “I’m sorry, this is not for girls.” In hindsight, these words impacted my life significantly.

Everyone in my circle had this mindset. Even when I went to college, the expectation was to get a degree in nursing, administrative assistant, or teaching. I pursued teaching but dropped out of college after a few years due to a lack of interest.

My turning point was when I got divorced and had to support my children. With no proper skills or expertise, I sought my brother’s help. He played a remarkable role at this stage of my life. I went to work at our outdoor furniture business, and the first task I was assigned was putting up a swing stand. I was clueless yet determined to make this work. This left me with several bloody Band-Aids but an upright swing, and I entered sales and marketing. As they say, no pain, no gain.

From then on, I was mentored by people who believed in my potential and pushed me toward directions I couldn’t see myself walking in. Being confident and believing in yourself is a game changer. I wanted to prove myself to my father, who believed women were better suited for supportive roles.

Now, having him say he is proud of me takes me down memory lane and makes me more grateful to my supporters, such as Fred Monk, who suggested I join the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) upon seeing my desire to take our business international. SIBF is an organization consisting of top executives & CEOs. The support of my mentors has driven me to great heights and allowed me to see that there’s more to me and my capabilities than the predetermined gender roles by society.

Vickie Neighbour

2. Tell us about your professional journey and work at Good Neighbour Fund.

I’ve grown and learned so much from the people who supported me, and I’ve been blessed to be able to give back. My global perspective truly expanded after getting involved with the SIBF. The influence and insights I got there have been life-altering. I went from simply desiring to be a part of the organization to being elected as the Chair in 2020.

Moreover, I have had the privilege to serve as a mentor for twenty-five leadership academies across the Middle East, Central Eurasia, and Southeast Asia. These involve gathering people with remarkable educational backgrounds who desire to improve their leadership, entrepreneurial, or cross-border cooperation training. They undergo a rigorous and intensive training program module for 11 days. This equips them with practical leadership skills to understand themselves, others, different systems, and authorities.

The Good Neighbour Fund was formed to create a better reality for as many people as possible. We are committed to global leadership and women’s rights. We also support the Arts, in particular music education, as my husband is a professional musician.

Vickie Neighbour

3. What was your biggest obstacle in your career, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle early on was my lack of higher education. I had little confidence and low self-esteem. I felt that I was unworthy of being in a leadership position. The only way of overcoming this vulnerability was facing it. After nine years of night school, I got my undergraduate degree at the age of 44 and got my Master’s at 50, and did not stop there. I continue to surround myself with people to keep learning and growing. I am a lifelong learner.

I was disappointed when SIBF deferred me after my first application. Fred encouraged me to reapply for the position, suggesting that I get acquainted with the committee members, and introduced me to them. I apparently made a good impression and got selected. I remember my business coach telling me that persistence was one of my greatest strengths. I kept on improving myself and moving forward. Fallbacks, mistakes, loss, and disappointment are all part of the journey. However, had I never taken the risk to step out of my comfort zone, I would’ve never been able to tell my father that I was now the chair of an organization of 1600 people across 46 countries. That moment right there was electrifying.

4. How do you continue to grow and learn as a leader? Are there any resources or practices that you’d like to suggest?

I continue to learn by pushing myself to do things that are not always so comfortable for me, like doing this interview. it reaffirms the fact that I am happiest when I am surrounded by people who care. I try to identify people making a difference and get involved with their cause. for me, life is all about relationships. I think what Girl Power Talk is doing is a perfect example. I also travel extensively and am a voracious reader.

5. What do you like to do for leisure?

I love to travel. My favorite travel destination is Africa, as wildlife and the beach are as close to God as possible. Subconsciously and fortunately, much of what I do for leisure has allowed me the opportunity to help others and brought me closer to leadership opportunities. For example, while I was at a leadership academy in the Republic of Georgia, I saw the terrible conditions of stray dogs. I created spay and neuter programs to help control the dog population and improve the lives of stray dogs. I also worked with vets to provide medical care and vaccinations. Similarly, in Africa, I support wildlife conservation and efforts to elevate women, which is also key to conservation. sanctuary for me is near the water on the beach or next to a lion cub in Africa.

Vickie Neighbour

6. What advice would you give young women seeking a successful career?

Find your strengths and use them to overcome your weaknesses. Self-awareness is key. Look inside yourself, and embrace your vulnerability. Discover what truly brings you joy and passionately pursue it. Direct your efforts to what aligns with your values, work hard, take risks, and maintain a sense of curiosity. Most importantly, do things with love and kindness.

Conclusion:

As a global leader, Vickie believes in leading with purpose and empathy; success isn’t just about personal achievement but also about the positive impact you can have on others. Her journey reinforces the importance of embracing your uniqueness and defying stereotypes. She encourages everyone to confront self-doubt, learn from setbacks, and keep moving forward. 

Girl Power Talk

Share

Recommended Reads

Leave a Comment

loader