FOR HR EXECUTIVES | 1 | 2019 | CHRO.CO.ZA
BAT SA HR Director Candice Watson Demanding diversity Sasol Executive VP: HR Charlotte Mokoena Born to develop Engen GM for HR Chwayita Mareka Blessings in disguise
Human Capital Director Old Mutual
Special feature: Employee engagement
ENGINEERING HRâ€™S FUTURE
Welcome Healthy practices
We live in extraordinary times. Innovation, digitisation and disruption are no longer concepts, but instead are the building blocks of our professional vocabulary and practice. Global pressures and fierce competition fuel an upward trajectory of these concepts across all sectors, in every major economy. While industry standards soar, the fight for position, market dominance, prestige, and in some cases even survival, is ferocious. Under these conditions it is becoming increasingly clear that in 2019, good teams will need to become great, and great leaders will need to become exceptional. The rapid pace and electricity of operating a successful business, together with its plethora of challenges, can bring out the best in individuals as well as organisations. After all, it is stress and its powerful energetic expression that create the opportunity for solutions in chaotic times and have the potential to produce exciting new realities. Society has become increasingly intolerant of the mediocre and demands the exceptional. Yet, to be the best, to prevail in challenging times, and to successfully navigate your way through a landscape that is volatile requires a monumental effort and endless personal sacrifice. The journey that many of us, as leaders and innovators, must embark upon will be characterised by longer working hours, higher job demands, less time and significant personal strain. That is why, in order to be effective in our professional roles, we need to be healthy â€“ very healthy! Our physical and mental states must be primed and ready to take on new responsibilities and the year's many challenges. Knowing this, let 2019 be the year when proactive behaviours replace old reactive patterns. Where healthy eating, regular exercise and environmental awareness become fully entrenched in your life. Commit to viewing challenges as an opportunity for growth and use the year as a platform to strengthen new and existing relationships. Most importantly, encourage and inspire others. Take the time to motivate friends, colleagues and your organisation to take on healthy mental and physical practices. While the benefits are seen on an individual and organisational level, the greatest benefactor is ultimately South Africa. Yours in potential.
RICHARD SUTTON CHRO SOUTH AFRICA BOARD ADVISOR | PERFORMANCE COACH | AUTHOR | GLOBAL SPEAKER
48 Reflections from ‘94
Pearson Executive Director for HR Alice Bhebhe shares the story of her involvement in driving L&D for SA's first democratically elected parliamentarians.
58 Blessings in disguise Engen General Manager for HR Chwayita Mareka’s HR journey is a tale of setbacks that turned out for the better.
32 Born to develop “The challenge of an HR practitioner is to balance the needs of an organisation with the expectations of employees. Finding that balance is very key,” says Sasol Executive VP for HR Charlotte Mokoena.
A little TLC: The magic happens when companies wish their employees well page 26
22 Tshidi Khunou explains why SA recruiters are not ready to abandon academic qualifications as a requirement. 64 BAT Southern Africa’s Candice Watson on the underrepresentation of women in senior management.
52 Reflecting on CHRO SA's 2018 summits and dinners 68 Q&A with Paramount Group’s Martie Baumgardt
Cover article 12 Engineering HR’s future Find out why respected leaders like Trevor Manuel and Peter Moyo brought Celiwe Ross, a qualified engineer, to eventually lead the people agenda at Old Mutual, a South African corporate powerhouse with fast-changing strategic objectives.
Featuring 18 Employee engagement: HR’s after-sales service 38 HR Indaba 2019: Bigger and better 42 Mentorship: A guiding light
Managing editor Sungula Nkabinde email@example.com +27 (0)72 741 6171 Editor in chief Georgina Guedes firstname.lastname@example.org +27 (0)83 651 2789 Photography Patrick Furter Other contributors Kate Ferreira, Tshidi Khunou, Richard Sutton, Candice Watson Advertising Nick Smith email@example.com +27 (0)72 202 1071 Publisher CFO Enterprises (Pty) Ltd 1 Wedgewood Link | Bryanston | Johannesburg | 2191 | South Africa +27 (0)11 083 7515 CHRO community CHRO South Africa is the organisation for HR executives in South Africa. Our goal is to connect finance professionals online and through event and this magazine in order to share knowledge, exchange interests and open up business opportunities. For more information and membership options please visit CHRO.co.za. Printing Novus Holdings Design Elizabeth Ferraris
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TLC with a twist Given the rapid pace at which 2019 is flying by, and the stellar line-up of powerhouse women you are about to read about, you could be forgiven for thinking that August was already on the horizon. But no, it’s not women’s month. Rather, this issue gives credence to the notion that women should be celebrated and recognised every month of the year. You are likely to be reminded of your purpose as HR leaders after reading this particular magazine as there are many references to the importance of genuinely caring for employees when you are in a role like yours. The wellness and employee engagements features (on page 26 and 18 respectively) discuss why an organisation cannot move forward without taking an active interest in the well-being of its people. Sasol’s Charlotte Mokoena (page 32) shares tales from her life’s journey and explains how being a nurse shaped her into the caring leader that she is today. Meanwhile, Paramount Group HR director Martie Baumgardt tells you why empathy has been at the centre of what has at times been a very difficult journey of being involved in numerous mass retrenchment processes throughout her career. While care and empathy are recurring themes in this issue, there are a few opinions and hard truths some of your colleagues have shared. BAT Southern Africa’s recently appointed HR director shares her commitment to addressing the underrepresentation of women to decision-making positions. On page 22, FNB Wealth and Investments head of talent Tshidi Khunou explores whether corporate South Africa is ready to abandon university degrees as a mandatory requirement for professional candidates. On page 18, Pearson’s Alice Bhebhe reflects on a pivotal period in her career when she was involved in executing the learning and development initiatives for South Africa’s first democratically elected parliamentarians. For highlights of events hosted by CHRO South Africa in 2018, including the inaugural HR Indaba, have a look at the HR Indaba Africa 2019 preview (page 38) and relive some of the other events that we held in the latter half of the year (page 52).
SUNGULA NKABINDE SNKABINDE@CHRO.CO.ZA +27 (0)72 741 6171
Executives on the run Research from Jack Hammer shows that executives are increasingly considering leaving the country. The findings are contained in the latest Jack Hammer Executive Report, which reflects a consistent yearon-year increase in the number of professionals who would consider leaving the country. This year, an unprecedented 86 percent of top South African executives polled for a leading annual survey indicated that they would take seriously an offer to move abroad. This is almost double the 47 percent figure captured in 2016. Jack Hammer COO Advaita Naidoo says South African managers are held in high regard wherever they land and boast a reputation for being hard workers. “These statistics support the findings of other independent surveys and research projects across a number of other sectors this year. Unfortunately, this also bodes ill for transformation, as 49 percent of those interested in relocating to ‘greener pastures’ were black respondents,” says Advaita, adding that the trend of senior professionals considering a future outside of the country was likely to persist in coming years.
Sanlam appoints Jeanett Modise as Chief Executive for Human Resources
Christian Schaub resigns as Group CHRO at Alexander Forbes
Netstar appoints Pamela Xaba as head of Human Capital
Effective from 1 July 2019, Jeanett Modise will take up the position of Chief Executive for HR and will be a member of Sanlam Group's exco. Jeanett, who is also a member of the CHRO SA advisory board, joined the Sanlam Group in 2014 as executive for HR and Transformation at Santam where she spent three years before taking on her current role as the CHRO at Sanlam Investment Group.
Christian Schaub has resigned as Alexander Forbes’ Group CHRO. Having taken on the role less than 18 months ago, Christian has joined what appears to be a growing list of executives parting ways with the specialised financial services group, including Alexander Forbes Investments CEO Leon Greyling and the group chief risk officer Vishnu Naicker, who have also resigned.
Leading vehicle tracking and fleet management company Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, has appointed Pamela Xaba as head of human capital. Pamela was previously the HR director at Ford Motor Company SubSaharan Africa and has also held various HR roles at CocaCola Shanduka Beverages, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Stanlib and Investec.
Employees don’t feel qualified to do their jobs A recently released by global leading artificial intelligence learning platform Docebo states that a third of the employees in the US and the UK workforce don’t feel qualified for their job. Workers also have little faith in their colleagues’ performance with over half (52 percent) in both countries saying they have a colleague who isn’t qualified for their job. Titled the ‘Fake It Til’ You Make It’ survey report, it finds that employees are feeling underqualified and unsupported when it comes to job training, with poor training said to be pushing employees to go to Google for help. 37 percent of respondents preferred to search on Google or YouTube for a solution, to asking a coworker.
CHRO.co.za CHRO.co.za is the online hub for South African HR professionals, a daily virtual pitstop for high achievers who want to stay ahead. The content portal of CHRO South Africa is experiencing a spectacular growth in readership on a monthly basis and is now the number one HR website in South Africa. The unique offering includes: • Interviews with prominent HR executives • Exclusive guest articles from leading experts • Profiles of the CHRO Top 100 • All new appointments of HR leaders • Fresh and sometimes provocative trend articles • Information about CHRO South Africa events • Online access to CHRO Magazine • The latest and greatest HR training
Candice Watson appointed as HR Director for BAT Southern Africa British American Tobacco Southern Africa has appointed Candice Watson as HR director. Prior to her appointment, she was the area head for talent and organisational effectiveness, leading the Southern Africa area execution of talent strategy and organisational effectiveness initiatives to enhance the business performance and leadership succession pipeline.
Nampak’s Mandisa Seleoane resigns Nampak executive director for HR Mandisa Seleoane has tendered her resignation, effective 28 February 2019. Having joined the organisation in June 2017, Mandisa now leaves Nampak in the midst of a plan to expand its business outside the country. It is also undergoing a group restructuring project that is reportedly expected to result in massive job losses.
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Engineering HRâ€™s future It takes a very special executive to lead the people agenda at Old Mutual, a South African corporate powerhouse with fast-changing strategic objectives. After just a few minutes with Celiwe Ross, it becomes clear why respected leaders like Trevor Manuel and Peter Moyo pulled her into the organisation and why she was the right person for the job. CHRO Magazine spoke to the inspiring human capital director about her background as a mining engineer, the joys of an expat role, how she fell in love with her African-ness and the methodical way she is engineering the future of HR at Old Mutual. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
ld Mutual human capital director Celiwe Ross and her twin sister are both qualified engineers. While her sister remained in the profession, Celiwe’s career traversed the mining and financial sectors. She considers herself lucky to have started at BHP Billiton, where she worked under an open-minded HR manager – Mike Teke, who is now a very well-known and successful figure in the mining sector. Mike made space for her after she told him she was happy to join the company, but that she wanted to see different things and wasn’t looking for the mainstream career path towards becoming a mine manager. She was appointed as a mine planner, which gave her the opportunity to work both underground and in an office, which was not typical for a mining engineer. “I’m not sure they knew what to do with me in practical terms. I needed to find a way to make myself relevant to a lot of technical guys who were running sections underground given that I was a mining engineer, but I wasn’t going to follow that track,” says Celiwe, adding that, in order to make herself valuable to them, she found a piece of software in a small derelict office, and used it to make the team more efficient. “I wasn’t as physically strong as they were and I was still figuring my way underground where I was working with guys that were my dad’s age. Being a fresh graduate, mine planning software was fresh in my mind and nobody was using it so I played around with it and, after spending time with the guys underground, I realised that they were still doing a lot of processes manually. So I created a system that made life easier for them and increased the productivity of the whole team.”
Expatriation opens your mind
joined Standard Bank where she joined the Project Finance team, structuring and executing mining transactions. Then, because of her experience in coal mining and coal-fired power at BHP, she started working in the energy sector as well, specifically coal-fired power projects in Botswana and Mozambique. That’s when the Africa bug first bit. In 2011, on the back of some oil and gas discoveries in West Africa, the bank asked her to relocate to Ghana to help them expand their investment banking offering, specifically in mining, energy and infrastructure finance. She spent almost four years living in Ghana and worked across all of West Africa, from the DRC to Senegal. She completely fell in love with the continent, its people, but also her own ‘African-ness.’ During that time, she says she became so much more aware and appreciative of herself as an African woman living outside South Africa. “Expatriation opens your mind. When you live in a country where race is not a dynamic, the only things that concern people are performance, experience and what you bring to the table in terms of being able to add value, instead of all these other things that have nothing to do with your actual work,” says Celiwe.
A fundamental change When she returned to South Africa in 2015, she had fundamentally changed. She saw herself and the continent differently. She was one of the select few black women in a senior management role at the bank, and was very frustrated by the fact that South Africa was still dealing with its racial challenges. Also, she had become more determined about what she felt needed to be done to advance South Africa and the rest of the continent, and was willing to take risks. She also felt that her ability to mentor the people below her was limited to her business and
After completing her MBA full time, Celiwe
Celiwe Ross Human Capital Director, Old Mutual Limited Work: After working as a mining engineer at BHP Billiton, Celiwe held senior investment banking roles within the Standard Bank Group in South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, covering the mining, energy, real estate and infrastructure sectors. She also spent two years with global search and leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder. She has been with Old Mutual since May 2017, first as an executive assistant to the chairman, then as chief of staff in the office of the Old Mutual Emerging Markets CEO and now as human capital director. Education: MBA (University of Cape Town), BSc, Mining and Engineering (University of the Witwatersrand)
as Top Employer in 2017 for being a company that creates the best employment conditions for its staff. We wanted someone to approach the function differently and to bring a difference thought process to the role,” says Celiwe.
she wanted to have a broader impact. At that point, she started having conversations with Egon Zehnder, a leadership advisory and executive search firm, which partners with organisations to help them make leadership decisions, whether it is to hire C-suite executives and board members or get those teams to perform more effectively.
Path to Old Mutual
“The war for talent has been redefined!”
“I applied to the role for a number of reasons. Firstly, I felt I had the ear and the support of the CEO and the exco. I knew they trusted my delivery and my way of thinking because we had spent a year together. I also felt that our people strategy needed to come much closer to the business strategy, which is something I knew I’d be able to deliver.”
Old Mutual became a client at a time when the company was preparing to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. She initially worked with their executive management team and the board. They eventually asked her to join the company, initially as the executive assistant to the chairman, Trevor Manuel. The current CEO, Peter Moyo, joined soon afterwards and he asked Celiwe to become his chief of staff.
The first year
That was the role that gave her an umbrella view of the organisation. She worked on everything from senior-level recruitment to bespoke strategic projects, many of which had to do with the company’s readiness for listing. When the HR director resigned, they began designing the role specifications for his replacement.
Celiwe approached the role much like any engineer would approach a problem. She spent the first few months assessing the organisation from the outside in, spending time with all the strategic teams within the business, HR executives and their immediate teams, service providers as well as some of the executive search and advisory firms, to get a sense of what everyone's experience of working with Old Mutual had been and whether there were areas on which they could improve. She also spent time analysing and understanding future trends impacting the world of work.
“We were quite particular about not looking for traditional HR skills. I think the HR practices within Old Mutual are very mature and well run, which is why the Top Employers Institute named Old Mutual
“It's about getting a sense for where HR is heading in the future and whether we're set up to deliver against that. Specifically for me, it has been a real passion to align the people agenda
“It has been a real passion to align the people agenda with the strategic agenda of the company.”
with the strategic agenda of the company,” she says, adding that she believes that the human capital space has changed drastically, with most companies starting to realise that people are the primary asset upon which the success of their strategies is hinged. What worries Celiwe in the current environment is that there is a mass of young people who are yet to enter some form of economic generating activity, whether it is in the formal or informal economy.
Says Celiwe: “You can feel their frustration. Young people have a way of expressing themselves. The future workforce will be supplemented by technology, elevating their role in the organisation to one of value-adding, revenue growing and purposeful work. Our role is to equip our organisations to deal with this significant change. The successful companies of the future will be the ones who are putting a significant amount of their funds towards employee training, upskilling and recruiting new people with the desired skill sets. The war for talent has been redefined!”
Employee engagement: HR’s after-sales service HR’s job is not done when a candidate signs the contract. Continuous engagement is key to creating happy employees. Four HR leaders share their nuggets of wisdom on the subject of employee engagement. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
“Without taking employees’ well-being to heart, an organisation’s culture can quickly deteriorate into one of treating employees as commodities...”
ll employees want to feel valued and seek meaningful connections from their companies. Without these things, they are bound to seek opportunities elsewhere. This is why executives around the world agree that enhancing employee engagement is one of their top global business strategies. Not only does this have a positive impact on employee retention, productivity and loyalty, it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation and overall stakeholder value. Increasingly, organisations are turning to HR to deliver a competitive advantage by setting the agenda for employee engagement and commitment. If done correctly, employee engagement should motivate employees by making them feel like their views are valued and that the company cares about their well-being. Also, when
employees feel that they are an integral part of a bigger purpose, they are bound to remain focused on the organisation’s goals. Speaking at the inaugural HR Indaba, leadership coach Nosipho Damasane said that employee engagement is HR’s ‘after-sales service’, which most organisations execute poorly. She believes that most employee-related problems occur because HR tends to drop the ball after bringing people into the organisation. “Research has shown that, in the US alone, the cost of disengagement is $300 billion per annum. It is a huge number but people are not alarmed by it because it is money that falls through the cracks of unhappiness,” said Nosipho, adding that failure to engage continuously with employees prevents organisations from identifying the things that cause unhappiness and disenchantment, which ultimately results in reduced productivity.
“When you buy a car, you expect someone to call you afterwards to ask you ‘how does it feel? Are you happy with the way it drives? Do you know all the details around your maintenance plan?’ After three years, you have someone that calls again to say, ‘are you aware that you can get a great deal if you trade in your car for an upgrade at this point?’ But, in some of your companies, HR engages with candidates during the appointment process and then doesn’t hear from them again until they resign or there is a disciplinary issue."
Engagement without action is pointless Ultimately, if you want to know what your employees feel at work, ask them. That’s what engagement is about. And, while many companies do engagement surveys and have managers that claim to have 'open-door' policies, Oracle HR director Queen Mokonoto says it is often the case that those same companies do
Juliet Mhango, Cell C
very little to act on the outcomes of such initiatives. But there is no point in listening to concerns and consulting employees on a particular issue, and then not doing anything to deal effectively with the concerns that are raised. Says Queen: “The purpose of any grievance mechanism is to draw management's attention to employees' grievances and to settle them in the most effective way. But there is a tendency to view employees as the root of all the problems within the business, forgetting that there are managers who are creating those problems. If an organisation has a culture in which employee grievances are perceived as negative or putting management in a bad light, employees will either further resent the company, lose the confidence to express their grievances in the future, or even lose faith in management to actually attempt to solve their grievances.”
Bertina Engelbrecht, Clicks Group
No one size fits all Cell C’s Juliet Mhango says some of the things that improve engagement and productivity include social cohesion, feeling supported by one's supervisor, information sharing, common goals and vision, communication, and trust. Because, at the end of the day, employees want to feel valued and respected. They want to know that their work is meaningful and their ideas are heard. Retention risk assessments must also be conducted with all employees, especially those with high potential and those in critical positions. That way, if you know what risk you have of losing them, you can take measures to reduce it. "We had culture sessions, where we first decided what we wanted to see as the executive team. Once we knew what it was that we wanted the organisation to feel like and the way we wanted our employees to think and approach their work, we then
spent time exploring avenues through which we could achieve those objectives," says Juliet. "As an example, we decided that teamwork and collaboration would have to be key pillars of our culture because people needed to pull together towards a common vision. So that was an area that we dealt with. We also decided that we want the company to be more customer-centric, so 'putting to the consumer first' became one of our values." Once the desired values and culture of the organisation were fleshed out, they were defined as the “Cell C Way”. There was a big employee engagement drive to bring the Cell C Way to life. However, because you are dealing with people who, by virtue of being people, are different, the effectiveness of engagement will vary from person to person and from company to company. As
an HR leader, you might have the pressure to do what others are doing, borrowing employee engagement ideas from what is perceived to be trendy. But that is a recipe for failure. Some companies will have a gaming station or pool table in the office as a means of creating an environment for employees to engage with one another. But, while that might work in, say, a tech company, it might not necessarily be a good idea in an auditing firm. The best approach, Juliet says, is to simply ask your employees. Because, ultimately, employee engagement is about identifying and finding solutions to problems in the workplace. It’s about figuring out the loopholes in your work process that only the employees can tell you. Just like a customer is the best person to provide feedback for a service or product, your employees are the best people to provide feedback on your workplace
Queen Mokonoto, Oracle
ESOPs are a great way to boost engagement One option that is sure to boost engagement, regardless of the industry you’re in, is an employee share ownership plan (ESOP). Clicks group HR director Bertina Engelbrecht says her involvement in the ESOP is one of the things she has been most proud of in her 12 years at the company. The programme was introduced in 2011, and the labour turnover rate has decreased significantly since then, allowing the company to keep critical talent much longer than they had been able to do before the ESOP. The point of departure was to find a way to advance the transformation agenda of the organisation while also supporting the attraction and retention of scarce and critical skills. They also wanted to find a way to reward the loyalty of people who had been involved in building the
company over an extended period of time. The share scheme was the answer. “Without taking employee’s wellbeing to heart, an organisation’s culture can quickly deteriorate into one of treating employees as commodities, which only costs organisations more in the long run because, when that is the case, the only way to attract and retain the best talent is to pay them more money that they would be able to earn elsewhere.” The traditional role of HR – primary functions that are limited to recruitment, training, salary payments, employee relations, and labour law requirements – has evolved to one that requires ongoing engagement and involvement in the business. This is because the long-term impact of having unsatisfied employees is that their energy trickles down throughout the organisation until, eventually, it is transferred onto customers.
#AcademicQualificationsMatter FNB Wealth and Investments Head of Talent Tshidi Khunou explores whether corporate South Africa is ready to abandon university degrees as a mandatory requirement for professional candidates.
BY TSHIDI KHUNOU
he notion that organisations need to think differently about their recruitment criteria, especially when it comes to mandatory academic qualifications, is a tricky one. People can learn anything they want nowadays and become very proficient in all fields of study without completing a course at an academic institution. Organisations are increasingly recognising that it is important to take a more inclusive view to recruitment, considering people who have had formal and informal apprenticeships, and those who have learnt skills through online training programmes. In recent years we've seen companies like EY dropping the requirement for applicants to have a bachelor's degree in the UK. Similarly, IBM, Google and Apple have broadened their scope of recruitment criteria in recognition of that notion that university degrees were not necessarily a good predictor of job performance. In fact, it is widely accepted that vocational courses and on-the-job experience offer more relevant training for many tech sector positions than a four-year degree.
you might find that the person who used to get Cs in your class will get the best job because people are not looking at the grades you got but rather just that you completed the qualification. What people don't often realise is that there are some things which will work in developed countries that will not be implementable in undeveloped countries. If you look at the quality of matriculants in South Africa right now, we cannot say that those young people are at all ready to engage in the corporate world and be able to communicate effectively or deliver any meaningful value. To put it bluntly, our education system is just too poor. When you consider the fact that we still get university graduates that don't know how to properly write an email, that shows how far we are from doing away with having university degrees as requirements for recruiters. University gives students more time to mature, and gives them other skills besides qualifications that are key to their development. In South Africa, a degree shows us that, while the student isnâ€™t fully ready to add value to the organisation, they have a certain level of discipline and their language skills are at least at a level where they can be taught to add value.
That said, I don't think South African companies should be adopting this approach to recruitment â€“ yet. Qualifications are the basic foundations that illustrate to recruiters that a person is able to execute what is expected of them. Secondly, a qualification adds more value if you have supplemented it with other types of experience. I always say to young people that, if you were the best-performing student in your class, but you have zero people skills, you might as well have not studied at all. Because
We are not Switzerland My wife is from Switzerland where the post-schooling education system splits students into two types of career paths. There are professional qualifications, which are the accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers and so forth, which are structured professions that require a very specific body of knowledge
CHRO insight CHROcategorie
that must be tested for competency. The other option is for people to go into hands-on professions where they need to get apprenticeships in companies that then award them with diplomas that demonstrate competence. A person in Switzerland can go into HR or logistics based solely on the experience that they have had. The companies that offer these apprenticeships are aware of the specific outcomes that people need to learn and they give them tasks and projects based on those requirements.
ing to address this issue by equipping young people with soft skills and work experience but the unemployment problem is an insurmountable mountain to climb.
Switching careers is a different story For those who have extensive experience in a particular area, yes that experience is more valuable than a qualification. But that experience only qualifies you for that specific competence. People should not be expecting to be hired into professions and roles that they have no experience in by virtue of past performance in a different role. If you come to me to tell me that you have 15 years' experience as a process engineer, for example, but you want to come to join a bank in a different capacity, I am going to need proof of your ability to deliver in that field of expertise and you will need a qualification for that. You might be the best process engineer one has ever seen, but you might struggle as a stockbroker, for example. Your experience as a process engineer at whichever company you are currently with is not always useful if that's not the role for which you are applying.
“If you look at the quality of matriculants in this country right now, we cannot say that those young people are at all ready to engage in the corporate world…”
That, to me, makes more sense that whan we have in South Africa where the perception is that everybody needs to go to a university to have a better chance at finding work. We do have technikons and FET colleges that have a similar objective to the aforementioned apprenticeships. But they have delivered a mixed bag in terms of producing students who can thereafter find jobs and start their own careers. Until we fix this, we are stuck with degrees as a measure of competence.
Too many unemployed graduates Tertiary education is not the answer to all our employment problems and that is reflected in the number of unemployed graduates out there. This is another reason why corporates can't start dropping university qualifications as a requirement. We live in a country where more than a quarter of the population is unemployed. Youth unemployment, according to Stats SA, is at a whopping 38 percent, and that's the conservative figure because it doesn't take into account the people that have given up looking for work. There are non-profit organisations like YES and the Harambe Youth Employment Accelerator that, with the assistance of the government, are actively try-
However, if you want to change roles within your existing company, that's an easier thing to do because the company is aware of your work ethic and is able to refer to the value you have delivered as a process engineer and will thus have a reliable data point to refer to in order to justify placing you in a role for which you do not have the requisite qualification. That is why my advice to anybody who is looking to learn new skills, or gain experience in a different role, try get that experience from your current company as they are more likely to give you that opportunity and bear with you as you find your feet.
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The magic happens when companies wish their employees well Employee wellness no longer falls into the bellsand-whistles category of HR strategy, it is critical to business success. BY KATE FERREIRA
he evolution of the HR function – from a policy-and-recruitment, administrative-type department, to one of strategic importance – has been a shift of focus in many areas of business, zooming out of the ‘nitty gritty’ and taking a broader view.
In terms of wellness, this necessitates HR moving from a narrow concentration on administering the sick leave or performance management policies to taking an active role in enabling the health and performance of staff. According to health and performance consultant Richard Sutton of Sutton Health, employee wellness is critical and means that “each and every member of the organisation is able to perform their professional role to their greatest potential”. “So often our performance obstacles are not based on extrinsic factors such as demands, pressures and challenges, but rather our inability to thrive under pervasive strain due to emotional, physical or cognitive fragility. Fortunately, an expertly constructed wellness programme can successfully address these performance barriers,” Richard says.
“The increasing demands of today’s fast-paced business environment means employees need more personal health, wellness and lifestyle support than ever before. It’s well documented that happy, healthy employees are more efficient and more productive,” she says.
More than policies and punishment Directly in line with this trend, locally listed insurance software firm Silverbridge recently announced that they had repositioned and renamed their HR function to “People Wellness”, “reflecting the importance of our people and their well-being.” Commenting on the move, people wellness executive Ruth Wotela said that although they continue to manage the standard HR functions (including formalising the structural organisation of employees; recruitment; disciplinary handling; performance management; and the administration of employee benefits and payroll), the new People Wellness team is focused on “empowering our employees, creating a great working environment, and promoting the values that drive behaviour inside the organisation and with our clients”.
The company’s role
Real ROI It’s a move that promises a return on investment (ROI) not just in talent retention, but in terms of productivity too. In fact, according to Life Employee Health Solutions (EHS), part of the Life Healthcare Group, 80 percent of employers who measured the ROI on their employee wellness programmes have found positive returns. Dr Leanne Mandim, chief operations manager for Life EHS, says that “wellness in the workplace has moved from a nice to have to a must have”, and that there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that employers reduce costs by investing in the health and well-being of staff – both in terms of direct costs (providing healthcare) and indirect costs (due to absenteeism and reduced productivity).
Richard argues that it is an organisation’s duty to play the “principal role” in staff wellness – because our work and work environments are the two main sources of the societal stress burden. He cites research from Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business which found that work-related stress results in more than 120,000 premature deaths a year in the US, and added billions of dollars to further burden the healthcare system in the country. In the UK, he says, a study found that 44 percent of individuals cite their work environment as the primary stress in their lives. “My point is that work cultures, environments, and policies have a greater effect on people’s health than we realise,” he adds.
“So often our performance obstacles are not based on extrinsic factors such as demands, pressures and challenges, but rather our inability to thrive under pervasive strain due to emotional, physical or cognitive fragility.” – Richard Sutton On the flip side of this, then, there is an inherent opportunity for a strategic HR team or manager: “From an organisational perspective, this can be seen as an advantage of sorts, as it puts the wellness ball in the corporate court. By implementing subtle behavioural and policy shifts, companies can reignite productivity and engagement not to mention reduce the health burden.”
Lead by example Taking a wellness-led approach is an achievable goal for organisations of any size, but it does require an acute awareness of company culture – whether you’re building from the ground up or transforming an established business. Nicky James is one of the founders of Tribeca Public Relations, an independent PR agency. When she and her co-founder Cian Mac Eochaidh established their company in 2006, they took a conscious decision to create the kind of workplace environment they themselves would want to work in. For them, this means an open-plan office and flat structure, generous holiday and family responsibility leave, flexi-time hours, and an understanding of the giveand-take nature of overtime work (lieu time). They
also offer life coaching to staff to support them to grow professionally or to tackle their personal struggles. It was their intention to create a positive, responsive environment in these ways, but that’s not to say there is no structure to these wellness “benefits”. Rather, every single benefit has a policy, Nicky explains, so everyone knows exactly where they stand. Our philosophy is “happy staff equals happy clients,” she says, and as a result, she believes that they reap the rewards in terms of high staff and client retention rates. Terence Moolman is the head of global HR for Syspro, an ERP software solutions development company with around 500 staff – the bulk of which are based in South Africa. Syspro also offers a range of wellness-targeting benefits, from healthy staff lunches, exercise spaces, and a subsidised smoothie bar, to an employee assistance app (through a partnership with Discovery) to provide emotional support to staff as and when they need it. He calls these wellness tools or opportunities but stresses that company responsibility goes far
“There must be something in the fabric of the organisation to show that you are genuine about this wellness thing.” – Terence Moolman
beyond offering these: “If you create opportunities, but there isn't an entrenched culture of wellness in the business, I think it becomes meaningless. There must be something in the fabric of the organisation to show that you are genuine about this wellness thing.” He continues: “People are exposed to so many things in their lives, and not all of these are in the control of the employer. People go home at night to different circumstances, but what is in our control is the ability to create a context for employees to understand work as a safe space in which they are holistically supported.” “If employers want engaged employees who contribute to the overall objectives of the company, it is important for them to think about their wellness strategies.”
Not “just” all in your head Both Nicky and Terrence agree that taking a rounded view of staff wellness also means examining how an organisation views mental or emotional struggles and health, removing the stigma, and supporting staff in need. Richard goes so far as to call mental health issues
“the single greatest burden on the world economy currently”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Richard says, depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide and accounts for almost 75 million years of lost productivity annually. The WHO also says that an estimated 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental ill-health or neurological disorders, and around 25 percent of the global population will be affected by such at some point in their lives. This was a key talking point at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Switzerland earlier this year, where the UK’s Prince William addressed the meeting of global leaders on the matter of promoting mentally healthy workplaces and societies. Locally, Richard says, around 13 percent of South African workers are presently grappling with depression, and that “presenteeism” (or working while sick and depressed) is likely costing organisations around R88,000 per person per year. The results of South African research shared by Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions found that as many as 74 percent of survey respondents reported “experiencing trouble concentrating, forgetfulness and/or indecisiveness last time they were depressed”. Head of Alexander Forbes
“To make dignity in mental health a reality requires every member of society working together and requires action both in the community and the workplace.” – Myrna Sachs
Health Management Solutions Myrna Sachs says, “Employers need to start giving emotional and mental health the same priority as physical health,” and start advocating for their staff with employee assistance programme providers and insurers. “People fear being stigmatised at work rather than supported if they reveal their mental illness. To make dignity in mental health a reality requires every member of society working together and requires action both in the community and the workplace,” says Myrna. She advocates for companies to provide access to support services for staff, be more flexible about work arrangements when stress or mental health is a factor, and to train managers and supervisors to recognise the early warning signs to support their direct reports and peers.
Hard look in the mirror So what does it take to maximise the employee wellness profile of an entire organisation? Richard calls for a “phasic, multi-layered and integrated approach”, and a model that addresses organisational policies as well as individual employee health. “This said, the emphasis must be on shared responsibility between the individual and organi-
sation, essentially creating a partnership in health and potential.” Too often, he says, programmes fail to produce the intended shift within the organisation, despite offering things like health screening, self-help educational material, and counselling. He points to a cross-programme review by Australian researchers who analysed 90 company wellness studies over a 15-year period. The best wellness programmes that scored the highest ratings involved both the organisation and individuals, such as focusing on policies that reduce stress and health practices that enhance employee wellbeing. A moderate rating was given to programmes that focused exclusively on the organisation (policies that only reduce stress). And, finally, a low rating was given to programmes that were individual based (the more typical programmes we see in companies today that focus entirely on individual wellness). The bottom line, Richard says, is that “if you focus entirely on employee health – and not organisational policies that cause stress and poor health in the first place – you are unlikely to achieve the desired outcomes.”
Born to develop Sasol executive vice president for HR Charlotte Mokoena explains the drivers of her leadership style. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
umility, a sense of fairness, a passion for seeing people develop and organisations succeed, open-mindedness, hunger for continuous learning, and stamina to stay the course. These are some of the traits that Charlotte Mokoena (53), the executive vice president for Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at Sasol, believes one should have to be an upstanding, inspiring manager and a senior executive. Mokoena joined Sasol in February 2017. In her role, she has global responsibility for Sasol’s Human Resources and Corporate Affairs functions. The international integrated chemicals and energy company recruited her from Tongaat Hulett, an agricultural and agri-processing business, where she spent three and a half years as HR executive. Under her stewardship, one of the key initiatives Sasol has undertaken is enhancing the company’s employee value proposition, as well as driving a companywide culture transformation programme. The enhanced employee value proposition, dubbed Sasol Cares, kicked-off with employees participating in a “quality of life” survey to further Sasol’s understanding of its South African workforce’s living standards and financial circumstances. More than 7,000 responses were received, providing invaluable data that was used to design the programme.
ability to save and invest, and other obligations. In response, the company launched the Sasol Cares programme comprising several options to help alleviate some of the socio-economic pressures confronting its employees. These options include monetary contributions to help deal with either out-of-pocket medical expenses, schools fees or servicing formal debt, among others. While only a few months in operation, Mokoena is proud that Sasol Cares has already contributed to schools fees for 14,000 dependents of employees and distributed school bags and stationery packs across 28 towns and cities.
Making an impact on lives Corporate Affairs, the other half of Mokoena’s portfolio, comprises stakeholder relations, communications, brand and reputation management, and social investment. Through the company’s social programmes, ensuring Sasol genuinely and positively impacts the lives of its fenceline communities is a particular focus and deep passion of Mokoena’s. She views social investment as more than just the distribution of funds and resources. “CSI is not a gift, it is a catalyst for change that drives our contribution to inclusive growth and development for beneficiaries,” she explains.
“CSI is not a gift, it is a catalyst for change.”
“The survey enabled Sasol to develop locally relevant, data-driven people management solutions,” Mokoena says, “to meaningfully enhance the value Sasol offers our employees.”
She notes that the strategic intent of Sasol’s Corporate Affairs function rests on three pillars: the first is to make a measurable socio-economic impact as a force for good. The next is reputation, to understand stakeholder expectations and respond effectively, and the third is advocacy, to proactively influence the internal and external environment to drive mutually beneficial outcomes.
In South Africa, she says, the survey revealed immediate challenges its workforce faced in respect of their financial well-being and quality of life related to debt levels, the cost of education and housing,
Owing to Sasol’s deep historical ties to the towns of Sasolburg and Secunda in South Africa, the company plays an active role in creating an environment where communities, which include its
Charlotte Mokoena Executive Vice President for HR, Sasol
Work: Charlotte has worked in both the private and NGO sectors covering the beverage, information and communication technology, education and agricultural industries. She was previously the HR Executive Tongaat Hulett and, before then, was a management executive at Telkom South Africa, where she worked for over 10 years. Education: BA (Hons), Human Resource Development (University of Johannesburg), Executive Programme in HR, Strategic Human Resource Leadership (Michigan University), Senior Executives Programme, Strategic Business Leadership (International Institute for Management Development)
employees, can flourish, by enhancing the capacity of local government to effectively deliver services. “Our footprint spans both developed and emerging economies, so we understand that our stakeholders are diverse and localised solutions, supported by data, are important to remain relevant and have the required impact,” says Mokoena. She explains that communities expect Sasol to contribute towards improving their quality of life, by enabling them to become economically active participants in society. “To realise their ambitions, we direct a substantial portion of our social investment funding towards education, skills and entrepreneurial development
programmes. This is in addition to infrastructure programmes we support to ensure our local municipalities have stable, thriving communities.” Sasol, for example, has played a direct role in assisting the Govan Mbeki Municipality in Mpumalanga with infrastructure upgrade projects targeting sewer systems, wastewater treatment, water reticulation and clearing of stormwater channels.
Where it all started Mokoena was born in 1965 in Pimville, Soweto as the eldest of four girls in what she describes as a “regular upbringing at that time in South Africa”. Following the 1976 Soweto uprising, she and her sisters relocated to Rustenburg to stay with their
“The challenge of an HR practitioner is to balance the needs of an organisation with the expectations of employees. Finding that balance is key.” grandparents and, upon their passing, attended boarding school to complete their schooling. Matriculating in a then-homeland high school prevented her from gaining entry to Wits University. She trained as a nurse and worked at Baragwanath Hospital in the mid-1980s. This experience gave her direct exposure to the violence and trauma of apartheid, while the system’s brutality also directly affected and claimed the lives of her family members. Her other vocation is teaching. “I believe I was born to teach and develop people,” she says. Mokoena practised as a guidance teacher at a school in Mahikeng for about a year before returning to work for a youth development NGO in Soweto, while working in conflict resolution in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands when violence in the province was rife in the early 1990s. An intrinsic feature of her life and work is a sense of caring, listening and learning. On travels, she takes time to talk to waiters, taxi drivers, hotel porters and professionals alike, to hear about their daily lives and struggles, view of their country’s political and economic situation and a sense of their future in it. “All my jobs have been a work of service centred on people,” she says starting with her time as a nurse which grounded her work ethic and taught her humility as she cared for patients wholly dependent on others for their well-being and comfort. “Teaching also requires a sense of care as a calling, not just a profession.” She also had a short stint as a consultant helping companies devise social labour plans to assist retrenched workers. Her corporate career started at the Coca-Cola Company, where she worked as a performance con-
sultant and then as a manager of learning and education for Southern and East Africa. Her role grew to cover the entire continent as the organisational capability manager for Africa supporting leadership teams throughout the continent.
HR is a unique profession She joined Telkom in 2002 as group executive for learning before being promoted to chief of human resources. She held two other roles in operations before rounding off her 11-year stint as the managing executive, customer experience. At Telkom, she sought to improve working conditions and competencies of employees and build organisational capabilities that contribute to company performance. “We focused on customer-facing or frontline employees,” she says, with the aim being to ensure that employee experiences and expectations are taken care of, and align their work and focus with the company’s performance targets. “We wanted higher performance to achieve customer and company goals, so we needed to understand barriers to performance and adjust the company value proposition while keeping an eye on costs,” she recalls. At Tongaat Hulett, she sought to understand the company’s operating footprint and therefore its employee social responsibility that spread beyond the communities in which it operated, but also to labour-sending areas. “The challenge was to make all employees at all levels feel cared for. The son of a sugar cane cutter cannot be a sugar cane cutter,” she says. Her career at Coca-Cola exposed her to knowledge workers, while Telkom exposed her to technical workers and engineers in the consumer goods sector. Tongaat Hulett exposed her to another fast-moving consumer good and agro-processing
Mokoena, who exudes a lot of warmth beneath her polished, professional exterior. Because HR as a senior role entails mentoring, she seems to be stern but fair, gentle yet encouraging and sees leadership as more of an art than a science. One of the ways she measures a leader is by the quality of the leaders they produce. “All of the people I have mentored have gone on to become highly accomplished in their own right, and are either heading up departments and organisations or running their own businesses. That is how I measure the value I add.” What she finds most gratifying is that her mentees go on to reach the top of their game and follow their passion and talents. “Great leaders bring out the best in people,” she says. She believes organisational longevity to ensure the impact of one’s interventions is crucial as a business mentor, senior executive and practitioner. “Stay in a place to learn and intervene and crebusiness with a full spectrum of skills. She now brings that experience to bear in a highly technical, integrated chemicals and energy business at Sasol and remains guided by the same principles.
ate solutions for one or two things and execute
“Human resources is a different and unique type of career,” Mokoena says, and describes herself as an “interventionist”, someone “who finds data to develop people management interventions in support of business outcomes”.
the door open for them to come back. If someone
The art of leadership
organisation’s sanction, but must not be humili-
“The challenge of an HR practitioner is to balance the needs of an organisation with the expectations of employees. Finding that balance is key,” she says. “A critical interventionist mindset of an HR practitioner is to determine if you are an HR executive in business or a business person in HR,” says
them well. Support and build capable people with a view to building a high-performance organisation. If someone good has to leave, make sure you keep leaves owing to poor performance, follow due process and let them leave with their dignity intact,” she says. “If someone wilfully transgresses company policies, they need to feel the full might of the ated in the process. Organisations care for people, so people must care for these organisations.” “Finally,” she says “be humble. The higher up the organisation you go, the more humility you should have.”
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HR Indaba 2019: Bigger and better The inaugural event in 2018 was an overwhelming success, and HR Indaba Africa 2019 promises to take it to the next level.
ith over 3,000 attendees, close to 50 exhibitors and numerous knowledge-sharing sessions, the inaugural HR Indaba was a resounding success. Internationally renowned speakers like Vusi Thembekwayo and Martjin Aslander set the crowds of HR practitioners alight with inspirational words of encouragement on how to fulfil their purpose and achieve their utmost potential. Meanwhile, top HR leaders from all over the country held captivating discussions on how to stay relevant, enforce your place in the boardroom, future-proofing your team and what it takes to build a career in the field of HR, to name but a few
of the subjects covered at the event last October. This yearâ€™s event promises to be even more explosive. The word is now out that HR Indaba Africa is a must-attend event for all practitioners and service providers alike. Trevor Page, a leader in Deloitte Southern Africa's Human Capital practice, put it succinctly: "The HR Indaba will showcase the best of what the HR profession has to offer, both in terms of thought leadership, and presence of service providers, and because we like to be at the forefront of all things human capital, we have to be there. The HR Indaba is certainly bound to be a signature event in the HR calendar and it will allow us to engage with a broader range of HR practitioners."
Exhibitors at the event can also expect to get more bang for their buck, with people like Old Mutual’s Human Capital Director Celiwe Ross promising to bring their teams with them on 16 and 17 October 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Online baby-gift shop Bebedeparis is one of the many partners that have already re-signed for the 2019 spectacle because they know that there aren’t many other opportunities to engage the HR community on such a large scale. The fact that partners are given the opportunity to send prospective clients a free invitation to attend is also a big plus. “An exhibition that doesn’t charge entry for the majority of delegates is invaluable to the exhibitors. A lot of our potential clients are small
businesses and the fact that it was economical for people to attend made it worthwhile for us,” says Aspiration Software founder Brian Fenton. As more and more organisations are adapting to the fast-paced, changing environment, they need HR to be part of the solution that will drive them forward and result in a more agile operating environment. But that requires HR professionals to review not only their role and everyday tasks but also their own skill sets. And the HR Africa Indaba 2019 is the perfect place to give those professionals the networking opportunities and insights that they will need to deliver on what is an ever-changing mandate.
MENTORSHIP: A GUIDING LIGHT All great leaders have mentors, and also mentor others. No matter how competitive you may feel – especially early in your career – success is, in reality, a team sport. Find out why even the most successful leaders do not rely solely on their own wisdom. BY KATE FERREIRA
teven Spielberg said: "The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
Steve Jobs had Bill Campbell, Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs, Bill Gates had Warren Buffett. The superstars of business and finance all had mentors that they turned to, and often credit this as a key element of their success. But what is the point of mentoring, and how do you make the most of it? Dave Colley is a CFA, former audit accountant, turned corporate consultant, and business coach. “There are three broad buckets of mentoring,” Dave explains. “Personal coaching, career-based, and leadership-based. At the executive level, we tend to look at the latter,” he says. He has had a few great mentors during his career and now works with teams and individuals (locally and abroad) as a mentor and coach. “Mentoring is about giving yourself the space to take a step back, to look away from the firefighting of your day-to-
day, and ask yourself what steps you need to take in terms of your longer-term trajectory.” “You get to a point when you're working, where it is so busy and so much is happening, that you can’t see the wood for the trees. The analogy we use in consulting is that this function would be like someone taking your watch and telling you the time.” Dave advocates for regular check-ins, one to two months apart for senior staff, and more regularly for teams or junior employees, and is a fan of the “Socratic method” – modelled on Socrates who used questioning to guide his apprentices through a logical analysis of their own assumptions. The reflexive nature of this is paramount, Dave argues. “You need the individual to come to the conclusion themselves. I could tell them what to do, and this advice may be good or bad, but they won’t buy into it and they won't feel ownership of it unless they get there themselves.”
Mentoring has gone formal Dean Naidoo is the HR people leader for Aurecon Africa. As a human resources professional, Dean is
involved in overseeing the mentorship programme of the company, but he still turns to his own mentors often for guidance. He has a group of people that he would call mentors, relationships forged out of connections he has made throughout his career. “One of my first mentors was the woman who initially hired me. She gave me my first opportunity and my first shot in HR,” he says. “Over the years, we've built up a really good professional working relationship. She remains one of my mentors and is someone whose opinion I really value. She is a great sounding board for ideas.” Dean’s mentors, he explains, have helped him directly and indirectly, from understanding the business he was in, to developing as an individual. As a result, he has been a keen supporter of mentorship programmes at the companies for which he has worked. What kind of issues would he take to his own mentors? “Where there is debate around strategic or ethical issues if I have a differing viewpoint. In my opinion, it is best to have more than one mentor,
and ideally, someone who has broad business experience, and a commercial point of view.”
Real and imagined In an ideal world, you stumble upon your mentor easily and enjoy fruits of the relationship. But it may not be that simple. While you’re looking for the right fit, Dave recommends finding a “digital mentor” by identifying someone whose outlook is a good fit. “Thanks to the internet, we have access to the greatest minds. We can hear them through podcasts, audiobooks, or experience them by reading about them. What were their ideas and how did they think?” This tactic is not new, Dave says. “Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, used to hold ‘council’ in his mind. He would ‘invite’ figures like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill to debate an issue with him, and he would imagine the discussion with them, and envisage how they would respond.” But the first prize is still a real person. “A physical mentor gives you a level of accountability, of course,” he adds.
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A two-way street Dean describes Aurecon’s mentor programme – called Mentoring for Success – as “really strong, and progressive” and something in which the company actively invests. “It is something that we have found critical from a skills development and staff retention perspective,” he adds. “As head of HR here at Aurecon, I am doing my part to ensure that mentorship becomes part of the fabric of the business.” From new graduates entering the business to the experienced professionals across global operations, everyone is encouraged to take part. People are given the option to identify their own mentor, via a portal on the company website, or request to be paired with one. Staff are given questions to answer – detailing their areas of interest, their aspirations, and so on – and this is communicated to the prospective mentor. After an initial meeting to test for “compatibility”, the pair sign an agreement for 12 months. Furthermore, every line manager goes through the mentorship training programme, so if they are called upon to mentor, they are acutely aware of what is expected. Within Aurecon, Dean says, the view is that mentoring is a partnership – aimed not just at developing the mentee, but at developing the mentor as well.
“We have expectations of our mentors, to share their wisdom, their broader business knowledge, and life experience. But at the same time, ‘mentees’ must drive their personal growth and development, set specific goals for themselves,” Dean says. “We stress to our mentees that they must have some skin in the game. At the end of the day, it’s not just the mentor ‘pouring’ into you; it’s about you adding value too.”
Where mentoring fails Of course, even best-laid plans sometimes fail. When a mentor relation breaks down, our experts agree that it is best to move swiftly along. “I’ve had reason to part ways from mentors on two occasions,” says Dean. “My season had come and gone with that person. Mentorship can go on for many years or just a few months, and one needs to be mature and humble enough to determine at what point it becomes necessary to part ways as friends, instead of carrying on with a mentor relationship.” Another reason to abandon (mentor)ship, according to Dave, is if you are looking for a mentor to solve your problems. “To make the most of it, you need to be prepared in certain ways. Firstly, you can’t see yourself as a victim of circumstances; you have to be a creator of circumstances.”
Practically speaking, what does this mean? “If you feel you can't get promoted because there isn't an opportunity above you, you're probably thinking too direct,” says Dave. “People move, reorganisations happens all the time. You need to develop the right skill set so you are ready for a move when the opportunity arises. A mentor can't do that for you. They can point out where you should focus, and help you sort through it, but as long as you think it is someone else's issue (“it is the company that needs to promote me), that's where mentoring will fail.”
Top of your game At the executive level, there is still definitely a need for mentoring, but it is often a less formal relationship. At Aurecon, for example, Dean says pairing the C-suite with mentors isn’t something in which HR would get involved. “I am comfortable knowing that the CEO, MD or COO has a mentor, often outside of the firm.” To his mind, the modelling power of that is significant as it sends a clear message to the rest of the organisations that “even” the top brass need someone from time to time. Dave also encourages executives at the top level to take the chance to mentor someone else. “So many
people focus on finding their own mentor, without realising that you're actually a role model or mentor for other people, and the behaviour that you model is being seen by other people.” It’s not just a matter of paying it forward, it’s strategic too. “One of the best ways for you as an executive to develop, is to help others,” says Dave. “When you’re asking how you can step up to mentoring others, it forces you to reflect on how your journey has brought you here and how you're going to go further along the way.”
The golden key, but you must turn it Mentoring must be active, mutually beneficial, and goal orientated. “Mentoring is similar to networking in a way,” says Dave. “Everyone talks about it like it’s the golden key, or that it will solve all your problems, but it is only facilitation.” “I believe everyone needs mentoring, but in different ways at different times. You can't fix everything at once, but you can tackle one or two ‘dominoes’ (in the form of skills gaps, or leadership style, or productivity sticking points) that will have the biggest effect.”
Reflections on helping transform SA in 1994 Pearson executive director of HR Alice Bhebhe was part of a team that was responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of learning and development strategies of the first democratically elected legislators. She also worked with HR managers of the nine provincial legislatures and National Parliament. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
oon after the 1994 election, a partnership was formed between the European Union (EU) and South Africa to support the transition of the legislatures including the implementation of HR-related initiatives. Pearson executive director of HR Alice Bhebhe got a job with the EU parliamentary support programme and her role, among others, was to ensure the
effective implementation of the HRD plan for the legislators. “It was an amazing experience considering the political environment at the time. To have the opportunity to be part of the transformation journey and serve my own country was an absolute honour,” she says. She worked with the Speakers Forum and the chief whips of all the different parties to identify
the learning needs of parliamentarians and eventually came up with a shared plan that was agreed to by all stakeholders. “There was research that had already been done to identify the skills need and what initiatives, processes and such needed to be put in place. Our team had to identify the required expertise and key role-players that would be required to execute the learning agenda.”
CHRO insight CHROcategorie
“It really showed what we can achieve as a nation if we all pull together in the same direction.”
Collaboration even in disagreement She worked with the first group of parliamentarians, including the likes of the Honourable Frene Ginwala and Madame Naledi Pandoor and it was an experience that shaped her perspective on many levels. The way that those parliamentarians carried themselves and interacted with each other drove her to seriously consider becoming a politician herself. The spirit of that time was such that all the parliamentarians would spend days and nights away from their families just to make sure that the new democracy would not fail and, although she did not become a politician, she knew she would be intentional about becoming a change agent. “I'm so glad I had that experience because I see things differently now. It was extremely transformational because it reinforced what my parents taught me... that life is not about you. That every day you are alive, you are creating a legacy and that
the number of people that you impact and how you impact them is dependent not only on the things you do but also the things that you don't do.” Until 1994, all those individuals had never been together in one place. However, given the collaborative spirit that prevailed, one would have never guessed the people who were now working together would have previously viewed each other as ‘enemies’. Says Alice: “It was not a difficult job because, at that stage, all of the parties were committed to ensuring that things did not fall apart as we transitioned to the new South Africa. There was already a spirit of collaboration in the build-up to that watershed moment when the ANC won the country's first-ever democratic election. People had already started bridging the gaps. It really showed what we can achieve as a nation if we all pull together in the same direction.” During lunch times, Alice says that members of different par-
ties and races would sit together. There was a sense across all racial and party lines that the collective was responsible for how the story of the new South Africa country would unfold. It really was a new dawn.
Teaching runs in the blood Born in South Africa, Alice grew up in Zimbabwe. She returned in 1991 and moved to the Eastern Cape. After completing her degree at university, she became a teacher because she wanted to be able to spend time with her children during school holidays, but she soon developed a passion for her chosen career. It was when she joined Maskew Miller Longman and began working with teachers and guiding them on how to teach English as a second language in the areas that were then known as Ciskei and Transkei, that she saw first-hand the plight of South African youth and was confronted with the impossible challenge facing educators in rural areas. Students would huddle in a small hut as there
The journey from transformation to HR Alice's foray into HR began when she joined financial services company Norwich Life as a liaison officer whose role was to drive employment equity. She was responsible for identifying talent that was representative of the consumer segment with which the company was dealing.
were no classrooms and share a single textbook among five or more of them, while the teacher tried to do best with very limited resources.
the subjects that fascinated me was the Philosophy of Education and I fell deeply in love with learning and development," says Alice.
“My dad was a teacher and my mom, who was a nurse, eventually became a teacher at the School of Nursing. Many of my uncles and aunties were teachers too so I was always around teachers and the subject of learning. While studying Philosophy at university, one of
“If you are interested in learning that means you are interested in people and helping them achieve their full potential. Because it is through learning (formal and informal) that you find yourself and why you are here and hopefully become the best version of yourself."
"I had to ensure that the people policies of the organisation were aligned with the transformation agenda of the business. I was involved in facilitating diversity workshops and trying to change minds and hearts about why we needed to change as an organisation... that's how I ended up going into HR." Since that role, she was worked in HR for various organisations across different industries, from retail at Woolworths to financial services at Old Mutual. Prior to her current role at Pearson – where Alice now works with the business leaders in the learning and development space to create an empowering culture – she was the HR director at Levi Strauss and Company.
Another big year of peer-to-peer learning for CHRO SA 2018 could not have been a better year for what is now a fullyfledged CHRO South Africa community.
n addition to a successful inaugural HR Indaba, where over 3,000 HR practitioners and service providers came together to network and learn from each other, top HR directors and executives enjoyed a number of exclusive events and dinners throughout the year.
A select group of HR executives from South Africa's leading corporates attended a series of dinners with sports health coach performance expert Richard Sutton, who shared his unconventional wisdom on how to get the best out of your people. Hosted at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank, the dinners saw the likes of Absa’s Busi Mtsweni, Takeda’s Shirley Joscelyne, and Edcon’s Darryl Feldman all
sitting together in an intimate setting, sharing their experiences and insights over a five-star meal. "It's all about taking people's potential and maximising it by introducing changes in cognitive behaviour, relationships and or lifestyle," says Richard, who consults with leading companies on stress resilience, employee engagement and productivity, and has worked with top-tier athletes including five tennis players who've been ranked number one in the world, seven who have been in the top five, and several Olympic medalists from all over the world. Richard explored the fundamentals of building resil-
Ndivhu Nepfumbada (HR director Africa, Transunion) Fergus Marupen (HR group head, SAPPI)
Left to right (Zuko Mdwaba (country leader, Workday) and Celiwe Ross (human capital director, Old Mutual)
Marge Mantjie (head of HR, Alexander Forbes Investments)
â€œI really value the CHRO South Africa platform and you are making a significant difference to the HR profession."
ience, embracing stress and making the most of your latent ability and shared stories on how he helped champions like Kevin Anderson, Martina Navratilova and Ryk Neethling cope with pressure and stress. The author of The Stress Code: From Surviving to Thriving: A Scientific Model for Stress Resilience, explained that while chronic stress invariably has an adverse effect on one's physical and mental health, short intervals of stress can offer tremendous potential to grow, break personal barriers and excel. "It was great to sit down with other HR leaders and hear more about what they're up to. I really value the CHRO South Africa platform and you are making a significant difference to the HR profession," says Dean Naidoo, people leader for Africa at Aurecon.
Vinesh Rhagnath (HR director, Monash South Africa)
Cebile Xulu (HR director, Mondelēz International)
“I am not one to back down from conflict but when conflict comes down to your values position, then you have a difficult choice to make as a leader.”
Taking time to reflect The annual year-end summit wrapped up an eventful year for CHRO South Africa, asking HR leaders to turn their attention to themselves and reflect on their own career journey. As a collective of people who spend a lot of their time building the careers of others, attendees found this event refreshing. The summit included a panel discussion with Fergus Marupen (group head HR at SAPPI), Cebile Xulu (HR director at Mondelez International), Ndivhu Nepfumbada (HR director: Africa at Transunion) and Lindiwe Sebesho (executive: Talent, Performance Optimisation & Remuneration at Barloworld). Together they discussed a multitude of ideas relating to how people should manage their careers, from knowing when the time was right to leave an organisation, to taking time to celebrate your achievements and not be so hard on yourself when your career is not progressing exactly the way you had imagined.
Shelagh Goodwin (head of HR, Media24) and Roy Clark (MD, ClarkHouse Human Capital)
Ndivhu, for instance, never acquiesced to headhunters, explaining that she preferred to leave an organisation and pick her next challenge strictly on her own terms. It was a revelation that gave a fresh perspective to a room full of leading executives and HR directors who had been headhunted themselves and would surely be approached many times again as their careers continued. Similarly, Lindiwe explained how meticulous she is about self-reflection, stating that she instils the principles of planning one’s own future in her children. “For me to believe in the things that I say to other people, I have to practice them myself. That's why, even at home, I have a tendency to performance manage my kids and reward them as they achieve great milestones,” she said. “My home is an organisation that has strategy and performance scorecards. My children often joke with me saying they wished they had a mother that didn't ask them every day what they achieved and they were going to do better tomorrow. But that's how I do things.”
Charlotte Mokoena (executive VP: HR, Sasol)
Knowing when to say no Other leaders spoke about how to go about evaluating potential employers. Fergus highlighted the importance of leaving an organisation if it is not the right fit, especially if one realises that there is a values clash. Said Fergus: "I am not one to back down from conflict but when conflict comes down to your values position, then you have a difficult choice to make as a leader. It's a difficult decision because leaving an organisation means you are essentially deserting the employees. It's often not a decision that one can take lightly and that is the reason why many of us will stay in a role longer than we should, until we look ourselves in the mirror one day and say, 'Wow, what happened to me?'" He said it was important when being interviewed for a role, to also interview the people that you are going to work with because those are the people with whom you are going to spend most of your time.
A dinner with global stress expert Richard Sutton
Cebile said: “I have turned very lucrative offers down because I have heard how those leaders treat their people.”
“I have turned very lucrative offers down because I have heard how those leaders treat their people.”
Many of the HR leaders in attendance left the summit feeling reinvigorated because balancing the demands of their high-pressure work environments with family responsibilities meant they seldom had time to sit back and just reflect. “Those two hours that we spent just reflecting was all that I will have time for and it is all that I needed really,” said Old Mutual Human Capital Director Celiwe Ross. Now in its third year, the CHRO South Africa community stands alone as the most engaging peer-to-peer learning platform in the local HR landscape. Each of you as members, have made it what it is and it is bound to grow into something that will undoubtedly make the impact that is now required from the ever-evolving profession.
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www.gsb.uct.ac.za/course-f inder BECAUSE A NEW WORLD NEEDS NEW IDEAS
Blessings in disguise Engen general manager for HR Chwayita Mareka’s HR journey is a tale of setbacks that turned out for the better.
BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
he terms ‘purpose’ and ‘passion’ come to mind when listening to Engen General Manager for HR Chwayita Mareka speak about her leadership lessons. Born in the small village town of Cala in the Eastern Cape, Chwayita was raised by a grandmother who was a teacher and who encouraged her to value education and always strive for excellence. From an early age, it was instilled in her that only her very best
was good enough. Circumstances did not allow for Chwayita to study straight after school and her working life began with an administrative job in one of the government departments in East London, through which she was able to further her studies. She has achieved a National Diploma in Public Management and later an MBA. "I had to study part-time and I learnt to be disciplined about how I manage my time. To this day, people still ask me how I
manage studying, working and parenting as I am currently studying my masters in organisational psychology through the University of London. My answer is simple: I don’t know anything else other than being a working and studying mom.”
Love for HR The bursary she received from her then-employer limited her to two fields of study, internal auditing and public management, and she opted for the latter, majoring in HR. That was
“To be honest, it felt like a step backwards, but I trusted the judgment of those in leadership and ended up having the most incredible growth experience...”
when the bug bit. The course convener for the third-year HR module was a former HR director for Eskom and he inspired her so much that she decided then which direction her career would take. After graduating, Chwayita resigned from her administration job because she did not feel challenged enough and thought it would be easier to find another one since she now had a degree. It was not. She worked in miscellaneous jobs, including one as a bag packager for Pick n Pay, until she eventually joined Spoornet as a train assistant. "My job was to assist the train drivers and working shifts. That shows that I really came from the trenches. I am so grateful for all that experience because I feel it helps me connect better with people and empathise. My advice to any aspiring professional is that, while a head-office environment is where you get to be part of the strategic machinery, time at the coalface is invaluable, especially in the HR field," says Chwayita.
Made by a mentor Spoornet was where she really cut her teeth in HR, benefiting
from the mentorship of a man named Deena Naidu, who took her under his wing and taught her that HR had to be involved in many of the operational aspects of the business. It was not uncommon for Chwayita to attend all early morning operational meetings and attend the end-of-night shift meetings to garner support and buy-in for new people-related initiatives. "He often said to me that execution is what separates the men from the boys. Because everybody can have great ideas but it takes real determination and perseverance to see those ideas through. And that really stuck with me." "To be honest, he made me. And I say that without flinching... He demonstrated the power of feedback back then when it was not fashionable. He would write letters giving me feedback on work I had executed, and slip them under my office door. His famous line at the end of such letters would be: 'If you still have the mettle, meet me at this time and place for coffee to discuss improvements'. He was immense for my growth and I’ve tried to follow through on this approach with my own teams since then.”
A blessing in disguise Years later, Chwayita joined Coega Development Corporation (CDC) where she was first exposed to a culture of black excellence. The primary mandate of the state entity was to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) for the purpose of building the Industrial Development Zone in Port Elizabeth, where none of the management staff had less than a masters qualification. She reflects on her time at the CDC with great fondness, and says this was also where her purpose started to crystallise. Her mission was to 'be the conduit through which people connect with their greater selves'. This purpose became even clearer after reading John Sanei’s book, Magnetiize. Chwayita thereafter joined Engen to gain experience in the private sector and worked in the company’s HR Centre of Excellence (COE) where she found great affinity with the people development space and was later asked to take on the group's performance management portfolio. Later, the group had a vacancy in the GM HR position and Chwayita applied. She did not get the position but what was more disappointing was that
General Manager: HR, Engen Limited Work: Chwayita joined Engen as a talent development manager in 2011 and took on roles as the organisational development manager and HR business partner before taking on the top HR job. Before Engen, she worked at the Coega Development Corporation and at Transnet. She also currently sits on the Board of Directors for Engen Botswana. Education: MBA (University of South Africa), Programme in Strategic Leadership (Stellenbosch University), Management Development Programme (University of South Africa)
she was also moved from the COE role to become the HR business partner for the largest division in Engen - Sales and Marketing. “To be honest, it felt like a step backwards, but I trusted the judgment of those in leadership and ended up having the most incredible growth experience in a space where I was able to contribute and influence the business agenda across all aspects of the people value chain." "The GM I worked for, Joe Mahlo, was another role model with his wisdom and commercial brilliance and love of nurtur-
ing talent. Part of me felt that I may have missed out on the GM HR role because I was not good enough, but the truth was that I just wasn’t ready and maybe needed the HRBP role to really hone my skills as a leader of people and process to assume the GM HR role." Engen eventually underwent a restructuring process and Chwayita was offered the GM HR role in March 2017. This time around, she didn’t apply for the role but she was ready. The time was right and, to her delight and surprise, she was called into the CEO’s office and offered the role.
“The game changers for me have been the great people I have been privileged to work with and the benefit I have received from feedback wrapped in care and a real desire to see me succeed and contribute. Jack Welch put it so well in his recent lecture saying that: 'As leaders, you’ve got a huge responsibility. God gave you a job where you are responsible for people’s lives. It’s a big deal. You’ve got families you’re responsible for, make it a big success for them. You’ve got one of the luxuries of life: to impact people’s lives. Grab it. Squeeze it. Take advantage of it'. And I’m glad I did."
28 NOVEMBER 2019 | JHB Celebrating HR Excellence
BOOK YOUR S EAT CHRO-Awards.co.za 62
The inaugural CHRO Awards recognise excellence in South African HR leadership The excitement is building. The inaugural CHRO Awards ceremony arrives this year. Don’t miss it.
On 28 November, CHRO South Africa will host the first ever CHRO Awards, at which South Africa’s leading HR professionals will be rewarded for outstanding performance in their field.
Judging panel of industry leaders
CHRO Awards categories
In the months leading up to the awards, top-
During the interview process, nominees will
tier HR professionals who have accepted their
compete for the prime position in eight award
nomination will be interviewed by an expert
panel of judges, including: •
Allen & Overy COO Jane Water
1. CHRO of the Year
• G4S Africa regional president Mel Brooks
2. Young CHRO of the Year
• Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo managing
3. Strategy & Leadership Award
partner Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie •
4. Transformation & Empowerment
GIBS dean Nicola Kleyn
• Nedbank group CFO Raisibe Morathi • Global stress resilience expert Richard Sutton
Award 5. HR & Technology Award 6. Learning & Development Award
• Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko
7. Talent Management Award
• Accenture Africa CEO Vukani Mngxati
8. Employee Value Proposition Award
Demanding diversity Candice Watson, who has recently taken over as HR dIrector for British American Tobacco Southern Africa, is passionate about finding out why there is such an underrepresentation of women in senior management roles.
BY CANDICE WATSON
fter 18 months specialising in talent at British American Tobacco (BAT), I realised how much I missed being a generalist. Driving the business agenda from a people perspective is a different kettle of fish from specialist roles, which on their own can also be quite critical to business success but invariably are a narrow subset of the overall people strategy. While I am now back in my element, I valued my deep dive into talent as it gave me a fresh appreciation for why we need to develop our skills. Most importantly, it made me realise where my passion lies â€“ developing female leaders. It is why I enrolled for my PhD through the University of Cape Town where I will be focusing my research on understanding the underrepresentation of women in senior management roles within Africa. I will explore the challenges faced by female professionals in the context of perpetual cultures of exclusion in the management ranks.
It has become painfully obvious to me that, as much as we build talent pipelines for the organisations that we are in and have had succession plans for years on end, 95 percent of senior management roles throughout the country are still held by men. We don't have the right mix of voices around the decision-making tables. Typically, women in senior management tend to be in support services like HR or in legal. They are not in the key driving seats of decision-making in this country, even though women represent half of the total economic workforce. That's a significant demographic that is not participating in the decisions around how businesses and the economy at large are being run. The consequence of that is that we are missing out on the progress we can make not only as an organisation but as society at large.
Our daughters and sons must be equal The female agenda is key because we cannot sustainably build our economy with the majority of
“We don't have the right mix of voices around the decision-making tables.”
voices being muted. We need to create opportunities for women to participate in the economy. We still bear the brunt of being the primary caregivers but the reality is that we are also driving a lot of the consumption in the economy. Our market research has reflected that 50 percent of our consumers are women. But the people making decisions about the products and services we should offer don't understand where we, as women, are coming from.
ational roles. Sales representatives, for instance, will spend most of their time in the car taking orders and delivering the product. This often happens at odd hours of the day so there is a safety issue that means men are better suited to those roles. However, we have entire career paths in brand marketing, consumer insights, legal, finance, human resources, research and development. These are all avenues through which a woman can join the company and be developed into a leader.
I am a mother and I have a daughter who believes that she can do anything she puts her mind to. She is about 11 years old now and, as an adult, I am sometimes saddened by the thought that the world is not set up for her to become whomever she wants to be. At the moment, there are still careers that I would advise her against pursuing because of how difficult it would be for her to thrive in those industries. Even if she could succeed, the hardship and emotional distress she would have to encounter in order to flourish is something that is still quite upsetting for me.
Up until now, we haven't actively driven the recruitment of women for these roles. Obviously, the principles of ensuring that the most capable and qualified candidate is given the role must always apply, but I think it's time we give a little extra attention to the female agenda. That is why part of my mandate is to reshape the people agenda for the 10 markets in Southern Africa.
Find ways to drive female recruitment Unfortunately, because of the nature of our industry, we don't typically attract women for oper-
Equality doesn’t mean excluding men That said, promoting the interest of women does not mean we must suddenly forget about the men. The two are not mutually exclusive. For instance, we are rolling out a programme called ‘Parents at BAT’, which looks at how we can support our employees both pre and post maternity. We didn't
Candice Watson HR Director, BAT Southern Africa
call it ‘Mothers at BAT’ because we are cognisant of the fact that times have changed. We give the parent the chance to decide who will be the primary caregiver of their child and they are the ones will be supported by the business. If they need flexibility for the first three to six months after the child’s birth we will give it to them, irrespective of whether they are men or women. Inclusivity and diversity mean giving opportunities to all people of all backgrounds. That is why we are reshaping the people agenda for the 10 markets in Southern Africa, where we will be developing leaders from within and ensuring that we have the internal capacity to lead this company into the future. The industry is undergoing rapid evolution and we need to have a diverse mix of people that will be able to navigate that future
Work: She started her HR career in the graduate development programme at the South African Breweries Soft Drinks Division before she moved onto Standard Bank South Africa as an HR generalist before making rapid progress in senior executive roles. She has been the HR partner at Lenovo, the HR director for Sub-Saharan Africa at Pernod Ricard and has also worked as an HR executive for Barloworld Automotive and logistics. Prior to being appointed as HR Director for BAT Southern Africa, she was the area head for talent and organisational effectiveness. Education: Bachelor & Honours in Psychology (University of Johannesburg), a Post Graduate Diploma and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (Gordon Institute of Business Science). Currently enrolled for her doctorate in Business Administration through the University of Cape Town pursuing her research interests in Women in Management.
Empathy above everything
BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
verseeing large-scale retrenchments is arguably one of the most unpleasant projects an HR leader can undertake. And Paramount Group HR Director Martie Baumgardt has had more than her fair share of those. With over 20 years’ experience in HR, Martie spent much of her career at SAA where she built the resilience that made her the leader she is today. She is also an undercover author, reluctant to publish a book that she finished writing years ago. CHRO South Africa got in touch with Martie to find out more about what makes her tick.
through real hardship and still stays hopeful. I just want
Q: What did you want to be growing up and how did you end up in the profession?
resilience. I was also involved in a large-scale retrench-
to be a better person today than what I was yesterday. Q: Over your career, which company did you work at where you achieved the most growth both personally and professionally? I worked for SAA for almost 10 years and I learnt a lot during that time. I was part of the wage negotiation team, often negotiating with the unions until 3am. It was tough. We would often receive death threats and I even had to have my own bodyguard but it taught me ment process where more than 2,200 people lost their livelihood. That was my first large-scale retrenchment
I have always had a deep-rooted passion for people and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I still do. It is something my dad awakened in me. He accepted people unconditionally and his compassion for others was so inspirational that, from a very young age, I developed a tendency to make friends with the misunderstood kids at school. You know, the underdogs. At the age of 18, my dad died and I felt very lost. I didn’t know what my place in the world was and I couldn’t decide what to study. It was eventually my brother who reminded of that intrinsic empathy for others that I got from my dad, and he suggested that I go into HR. It was then, and still is now, something that I considered to be my calling.
and, although it was traumatic, I am glad that I could be there to support the people that needed me. That said, I still feel that I have learnt the most, both personally and professionally, at Paramount. Our chairman Ivor Ichikowitz has an eye for talent and he must have seen something in me when he asked me to join the holding company in 2013. Paramount is a very entrepreneurial company and it is fast paced. As part of the executive committee, I had to hit the ground running. I had to learn to articulate HR’s value proposition in a language that our leaders understood, to build trust and alliances, to adapt to change quickly, and to guide the business to manage change effectively. I have never been
Q: Who were your role models growing up and why?
more stretched both personally and professionally but I
I don’t believe in role models. I think you can learn something from every person you meet. In my view, the people that we should regard as role models are every single parent trying to raise kids on their own, or any parent that has lost a child, or any person that has gone
we are out of our comfort zones.
believe that, as human beings, we grow the most when
Q: Is there a person that really stands out as being crucial to your development? Who are they and how have they made an impact on your life?
Paramount Group HR Director, Paramount Group Work: Prior to her current role, Martie was the group HR Manager for TransAfrica Capital, which she joined after spending 10 years at South African Airways. Education: Martie is a chartered HR professional, certified life coach, NLP practitioner, accredited consultant, facilitator and assessor. She also holds an International Diploma in HR and Training Management from the Institute of Administration and Commerce, as well as a B.Tech qualification from the Tshwane University of Technology.
I learned a lot from the former general manager of HR of SAA, Bhabalazi Bulunga. He was a master chess player and always one move ahead of everyone. His tactics were off the wall at the best of times, but he always had a method in his madness. He challenged me to be the best version of myself and to trust my instincts. That advice alone has helped me tremendously in my professional and private life. Other than him, I am very fortunate to have been able to work with very professional and highly talented people who I learn from, even to this day. I try to learn something from everyone that I encounter because that’s what excites and fuels me. I am very open to learning and do not have a problem saying, “I don’t know, but I can learn or I can find out”. That is something I think is important for all people to be able to do, even if they are leaders. Q: Paramount experienced a lot of changes in the last five years, such as acquisitions, mergers, divestments, rightsizing, and reorganisation. How have these changes impacted the people in the organisation and you both personally and professionally? As they say, the only thing that stays constant is change and, at Paramount, we have had our fair share of change. The group went on an aggressive acquisition drive from 2013 and grew from two subsidiaries in 2013 to 17 subsidiaries today. We also expanded our global footprint and now have offices in 13 countries. In retrospect, we grew too quickly and didn’t properly integrate the newly acquired businesses into the group. In 2017, we re-evaluated our business model and divested in the non-core businesses, rightsized and reorganised the business to ensure the long-term sustainability of the group.
Also, how does one have those difficult conversations in which you have let employees go? That is the most challenging part of the HR profession, balancing the needs of the organisation and the impact on employees. I have been involved in 10 large-scale retrenchments in my 24-year career in HR and it does not get any easier. Nor should it. It should never be easy to take someone’s livelihood away, but unfortunately, it is a reality. I have always found that if you treat people with respect and dignity and show them empathy and compassion, it is easier for them to accept the reality. Losing one’s livelihood is traumatic and I, therefore, give people my time and energy. I allow them time to process their hurt, disappointment, anger and fear. Q: What was the most difficult thing about that whole experience and what have you learnt from it? The most difficult thing is to see a grown man cry because he feels he has failed his family. I have learnt to acknowledge what people are going through, but try and get them to start thinking about solutions and not let their current reality paralyse them. The human spirit is inspiring. It has humbled me to witness how people remain hopeful and grateful in spite of the misfortunes that befall them. Q: What HR projects are you involved with at Paramount that you are most proud of? Why? I am very proud of all our achievements as an HR team. I have a great team of professionals and I could not have achieved the success that we have achieved without them.
I think the most important thing for any organisation, when they are going through change, is to talk about the elephant in the room. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Because in the absence of communication, people fill the void with assumptions and those are usually worse than the reality. So I often encouraged our executives to communicate frequently and honestly. That meant telling it like it was when it came to sharing what our challenges were, what our dreams were, where we were going, and where we needed support. Q: During the rightsizing exercise, how did you balance the needs of the organisations with those of the people who would be losing their livelihoods?
We have made great strides in implementing our fiveyear HR strategy. Our focus is the same as any other progressive organisation, to attract, engage, develop, and retain our talent. Over the last two years, in particular, we have implemented a number of high-impact interventions and the return is evident in our energy and engagement levels and improved performance. I am exceptionally proud of the Paramount Academy that has been established, which offers a 46-course curriculum consisting of generic, domain-specific, and leadership training courses, as well as some self-actualisation courses on things like mindfulness. We revamped our entire induction and orientation pro-
“I don’t believe in role models. I think you can learn something from every person you meet.” cal environment, all of these factors have an impact on workplace trends such as generational diversity, AI, gig economy, 4IR, flexible work arrangements and so forth. The employee experience has taken centre stage and as HR professionals we need to guide leadership because I do not think all our leaders are prepared for the age of disruption. I also think that we as HR professionals need to wake up, embrace the change, find our voice, stay relevant, and learn to speak the truth to leadership. A large part of our role involves challenging the status quo and having the tough conversations when they are necessary to achieve a greater good. gramme and I honestly believe it is now world class. We also decided to re-orientate all our employees last year, which was the best decision we have made as it instilled employees’ passion for and pride in Paramount. We implemented a fit-for-purpose wellness strategy to augment our EAP that has been running successfully for a number of years, and we now have monthly themes such as addition awareness or mental wellness month and we then get specialist psychologists and/or thought leaders to come and talk to our employees about these topics. Lastly, we focused on our employee value proposition by rolling out a ‘Good to Great’ cultural intervention and the ‘Art of the Possible’ reward and recognition scheme. We also have a jam-packed agenda for 2019 that I am very excited about! Q: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing HR and how do you think the profession should be tackling it? I think our biggest challenge, as HR, is to adapt to the rapidly changing world of work. From the legislative, technological, and social to the economic and politi-
Q: Tell us about the book you have written. What is it about, what inspired you to write it and how would you like it to impact the world? I have been writing poetry since I was 15 years old. I have always had a passion for writing, so I decided a couple of years ago to start writing a book. I have had an interesting and colourful life so I decided to put it in a book. I have not built up the courage to publish it yet because I am still a bit worried that it may shock a few people. Essentially, I would like the book to be a reminder for people that we all have our own map of the world that is shaped by our experiences so we should never judge one another. We must just accept and love each other. Be fascinated with people, you might learn something. Q: Lastly, who is Martie outside the world of work? What do you enjoy doing with your time? I’m a wife, a mother of two amazing boys and my family is very close to me. I enjoy travelling, interior design, writing, reading. I also enjoy the simple pleasures in life: good company, good food, good wine, some music. That's all I need to get to my happy place.
Simplifying our days at work Workday country head Zuko Mdwaba, who should have been a doctor and could have been a professional cyclist, reveals how he shaped his own future and is now championing the global expansion of the business.
BY JOËL ROERIG
f Zuko Mdwaba wasn’t as affable and warm as he is, his boundless energy would probably make you feel slightly bad about yourself. Colleagues in the small-but-exponentially-growing Workday SA team still raise their eyebrows and ask their boss: “How do you do all the things you do?” Captaining a team of 12 cycling friends through the torture and triumph of the Coronation Double Century would be a top life achievement for many. Taking Instagram-selfies at the Netflix HQ when in California for work would be a career highlight for most. But Zuko does both in the same month that he rides the 94.7 Cycle Challenge under three hours, grows the Workday SA team for the future and builds the business during important sales meetings in Cape Town and Johannesburg. As we sit down to chat, also in that very same month, he has just returned from yet another exploit: the annual Workday
Rising conference in Austria. With 20 South African delegates from both customers and prospects (“I prefer to call them future customers”) in tow, it felt like a cherry on the top of Workday’s first year in Africa, he reveals. “Those 20 South Africans all went through the effort of taking leave, applying for visas and staying in Vienna for a week, just to go and hear from other Workday clients. It’s is a significant milestone,” says Zuko, reflecting on the 365 days in which he changed from SA employee #1 to becoming the expansion captain he was hired to be.
The rise of ‘Doc’ Mdwaba If you have ever driven the road between East London and Bloemfontein and gazed towards the Lesotho mountains around Aliwal North, you know how vast and undeveloped the rural area from where Zuko hails is. “I am from Coville, a small village in the Herschel district in the Eastern Cape,” he explains, before deflecting a lot of the credit for his success to his parents and his
siblings, who inspired him with their school results. Education was “at the core of what my parents inculcated” and from as early as six years old, Zuko honed his sales skills in the general store that his family ran. Racist apartheid policies and inferior Bantu education would not deliver the maths and science talent that young Zuko showcased. His family saw a great future for him as a doctor, one of the few known professions for clever kids. This notion went so far that the 13-yearold Zuko was routinely called ‘Doc’ by his paternal grandfather. However, after TV shows like Star Trek ignited an interest in technology, Zuko announced that he wanted to pursue tech during his studies – only to be told to get a grip. “They thought I was smoking something,” says Zuko with a broad smile. Zuko embarked on a Bachelor of Science (BSc) under the pretence that this would be a solid base for medical studies, but his mind
“More and more companies are realising the positive correlation between happy employees and a boost to the bottom line.” was made up and – as he admits now – he probably “tricked”
his parents. They were soon to find out that, despite their misgivings, Zuko was headed to study Computer Science at the University of the Western Cape.
Innovative companies “I might be a business leader now, but before all of that I am a technologist and I have been one for more than half of my life,” says Zuko, who used to program computer code in the early days of digital. From that fateful flouting of his family’s wishes to the career decisions that took him to companies like Telkom, Atos, Oracle, SAS and now Workday, Zuko remained the architect of his own destiny. “But Workday is the best company I have ever worked for,”
he says. “We spend more money on innovation than on sales and marketing. It gives a kick knowing that eight out of 10 most innovative companies are using Workday, according to the Forbes list on which Workday itself is second.” Workday was founded by David Duffield, founder and former CEO of ERP company PeopleSoft, and former PeopleSoft chief strategist Aneel Bhusri following Oracle's hostile takeover of the company in 2005. Its cloud-based, mobilefirst HR software has become dominant among large companies in the US and the rapid expansion is ever continuing with forays into the rest of the world – and into finance-focused ERP systems.
Very intimate and personal “We are developing at a lightning pace. It’s scary,” says Zuko, looking relaxed and confident, rather than scared. “Good scary,” he says. Although Workday presents itself as an alternative to companies with a long legacy like SAP and Oracle, the narrative always revolves around Workday’s own strengths, he says. He adds that advocacy by customers is the most powerful advertising, for example during the annual Workday Rising event, where current customers compare notes with each other and with potential customers. “It is really amazing,” says Zuko, just back from the event in Austria. “I attended a lot of company events during my career. Normally these things are a product dump, but this is very intimate and much more personal. We talk a lot about community at the company; and at Workday Rising you can really feel it. Negative feedback is also good and something we can learn from. We have an incredible 98 percent customer satisfaction, so it is important to appreciate transparency and not shy away from comments.” Since Workday’s successful launch in South Africa last year February, it has been a rollercoaster ride for the team. “At the beginning of the year, we were entering an environment where people have built their careers knowing our competitors. I can relate. You get comfortable with what you know, with the devil you know,” says Zuko, describing the challenge of introducing
a new player to a new market, although over 250 companies are already using Workday software in South Africa. “There are a lot of things we can tell you about why and how we are different to those companies, we can talk about our Power of One concept and all those other amazing things... But don’t just listen to us, listen to what our customers have to say.”
“I might be a business leader now, but before all of that I am a technologist and I have been one for more than half of my life.” Inspirational leadership “I believe in inspirational leadership,” says Zuko. “I am inspired by Workday. A lot resonates with what I believe in. Everybody in business talks about culture these days, but the question should be: does your culture take you to the next frontier? As a leader I engage with purpose with everyone, sometimes I even feel I overdo it… But it is important to realise that what we take for granted can be a seed of inspiration for someone else.” With a combination of endless energy and happy tenacity, Zuko is following the ‘happy employees, happy customers’ approach
to building his team. It is a method advocated from the outset by Workday’s founders, who personally interviewed the company’s first 500 hires. The most important thing, Zuko explains, is being relatable. “That is why leadership is always bi-directional. It is a process to find each other's levers of inspiration. Cycling might be one of them. Family [Zuko and his wife have a 10-year-old boy and eight-yearold girl] might be another. If you look around the globe, you will see that most innovative companies have an employee-centric culture. Great culture is no longer optional, but it is better for business. More and more companies are realising the positive correlation between happy employees and a boost to the bottom line.” So, as his colleagues often ask him, how does he combine all those interests and activities, inside and outside of work? “All the things I focus on in my life feed off each other,” Zuko explains. “Riding a bicycle is a big part of my life. A lot of strategies come to me while I am riding. It is not all about physical fitness. When you cycle through tough hills and you think ‘what the hell, this is hard’, your mental fitness kicks in. You hit a brick wall, but you focus and go through it. There is a direct parallel with work life. Workday is an incredible success story, but every day we are faced with competition that doesn’t sit still either. The key is to focus on our own core values: employees, customer service, integrity, innovation, fun and profitability.”
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