Thekla Kallika
Coordinator, St Louca’s Community

‘2022 is a milestone year for us as our aim is to complete Phases I & II of construction of Saint Louca’s Community, which began late 2019. This will enable us to operate the centre in 2023 offering a range of therapies, day care, overnight stay and creative and developmental activities that are desperately needed. We will continue our efforts to attract donors and host several fund-raising activities, to be able to proceed with the next phases of the project. I believe women generally embrace collaboration and improve interpersonal relationships because they are excellent communicators and very good listeners’

Thekla Kallika was born and raised in Nicosia and has been married to Costas Kallikas for 26 years. Together, they have two children, both of whom were born with complex disabilities. Thekla was employed by the Bank of Cyprus for over two decades, primarily in the area of human resources, and took early retirement to concentrate on her life’s mission as the Coordinator of St Louca’s Community.

Tell us about your company.
“In 2008, my husband and I, together with a group of friends, set up St Louca’s Community, a non-profit, non–governmental organisation, aimed at improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and to help them integrate successfully within society. Today we have over 200 volunteers and have one challenging task, that of building and running a state-of-the-art, multifunctional community centre in Filani, Nicosia offering health care, accommodation, support and development.”

What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman?
“Drawing on my personal experiences as a parent of two children with disabilities and the difficulties and struggles we had to face over the years in offering them the best care possible, gave me the strength and the drive to pursue my dream, which at times seemed unreachable. For me, giving up was never an option, and I was determined, irrespective of the challenges and disappointments that I had to face, to keep walking.”

What is the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
“In our ‘Voyage to Ithaki’ so to speak, by being true to my principles, I was able to touch the hearts of many people and inspired them to share our vision and join us on our journey by becoming volunteers, and thus creating a small community, which I am happy to say is growing every day. Having being blessed with faith, courage and persistence, I managed to overcome many obstacles that came my way and to see things through to successful completion, even when they felt overwhelming at times.”

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top?
“Studies have shown that having more women in the top ranks leading teams increases diversity and results in overall performance, efficiency and innovation. Men and women possess different sets of skills and traits to a particular job. My experience has shown that women adopt a different approach on various issues compared to men, as our way of thinking and problem-solving skills vary significantly. I believe women generally embrace collaboration and improve interpersonal relationships because they are excellent communicators and very good listeners.”

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
“I would say the first thing is to have passion for your work. Set goals and do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to achieve them. Learn from your mistakes and move on as disappointments are all part of the game. Celebrate your successes with humility and do not lose a sense of who you are. Be fair, kind, and compassionate towards your fellow human beings, and act as a mentor. More importantly, take care of yourselves and find the ideal work-life balance as there is nothing more precious than family and health.”