A Lady in the Lead - Wilma Chalulu

Women who achieve in the Workplace, Wilma Chalulu is a Success Story, Malawian Women Who Are Getting Ahead, Women and Work - read more about Wilma Chalulu on Mywage Malawi.

By Madalitso Kateta


The name Wilma Chalulu is frequently in the Malawian news media. She is treated with respect wherever she goes.

Being a senior communications manager at one of the leading mobile phone operators in Malawi, TNM, Chalulu is a great role model for young women in Malawi. Her story is a combination of good decisions and an ambition to succeed in life.

Born Wilma Chigalu some thirty-six years ago in a family of seven children (three girls and four boys), Chalulu’s road to success has been an interesting one. The environment she grew up in could have easily produced a spoiled child had it not been for her focused determination to make a difference in life, and her father’s determination to raise hard working children.

“I grew up at a time when many children from middle-class families believed that it was alright to be lazy, but my father instilled in me a philosophy that said that one had to work hard to be self reliant in life,” she said. 

A graduate of the University of Malawi majoring in Arts and Business Administration, with a bias in marketing, Chalulu believes that with zeal and the drive to succeed in academic studies, young girls have the potential to make it big in life, and be respectable citizens in society without being at the mercy of their husbands.

“For young ladies to triumph in their field of choice they should overcome feelings of inferiority and treat their male colleagues as equals. Only then will they achieve self-respect and also the respect of others,” she said.

Looking at her overwhelming responsibilities at TNM one could conclude that she hardly has time for family or amusement, but Wilma says she always has time for her two children and her surgeon husband. She says this is possible because she learned to manage her time while a teenager.

She observed that the reason why some young career ladies have unhappy families is because they do not learn to organise their time in the early stages of their lives.

“Of course we all make mistakes in life, but a common mistake young women make is rushing to get married before attaining academic qualifications so they might be set for life. The sad end result is in the later stages. They are unable to make independent decisions because they are economically dependent on their husbands,” she said.

She also gave credit to her husband for being understanding. “Marriage is the final decision that a lady has to make in life and it needs to come after very serious consideration. I am very lucky because I have an understanding husband who assists me with some domestic matters,” she said.

She encourages those women who have maybe made bad choices not to give up, saying they still have a chance to reverse their unfortunate situations if they are determined to do so.

“It is never too late to change as long as one is alive. Society is evolving, and those women that want to get a good education should do so if they are to free themselves from abuse at the hands of their husbands and achieve their dreams in life,” she advised.

Chalulu could be described as one of Malawi’s most successful business-women, having worked at three of the country’s most reputed conglomerates - British American Tobacco, Celtel (now Zain) and Unilever -  in top management positions.

However, these achievements have not made her complacent. She still believes she has a lot more to achieve, and that is why she is currently working on her MBA studies.