FOR HR EXECUTIVES | 2 | 2018 | CHRO.CO.ZA
VP HR AngloGold Ashanti Tirelo Sibisi Business with a conscience Group head HR Sappi Fergus Marupen A tree is known by its fruit HR exec Capitec Bank Nathan Motjuwadi People at the centre
HR Director TFG
THE DARK ARTS OF HR PAGE 64
THE VALUE OF EARLY ENGAGEMENT
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THE QUEST FOR SUCCESS Professional Support Lawyer for the Employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. BY SHANE JOHNSON SHANE JOHNSON IS PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT LAWYER FOR THE EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE AT CLIFFE DEKKER HOFMEYR
Success defined Out of the estimated 7.6 billion people on earth, I would say that most of them (young and old) desire success. The wide meaning of success (‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’) allows for this to take various shapes and forms, which ultimately depends on individual preference and circumstances. For a school kid, success could mean being selected as a prefect. For a sportsperson, it could mean being called up to the national team. For an academic, it could mean being awarded a doctorate in a pursued area of study. This article considers the concept of success in the modern era. The article ultimately argues that the quest for success is one that will probably last a lifetime. Provided that you are equipped with the right attitude and commitment to your cause, the quest should be worth it in the end.
The influence of the modern era Technological advances mean that society is evolving and changing at a rapid rate. These advances have resulted in interconnectedness, access and diversity of opportunities for people around the world. For 2018, Fortune predicts some of the following technology trends for 2018 alone: • the main means of communication in dating apps will evolve from text to video • meat will increasingly be made from plants (as opposed to actual meat) • car accidents will rise due to the introduction of driverless cars li-fi will become the newest rival to wi-fi • As much as many of these trends will be fuelled by technology, they were (probably) borne from the creative and unique workings of human minds.
technology. It is even more important to contemplate how you can use technology to your advantage to (potentially) fast-track or positively influence your quest for success.
Journey of a lifetime What or who satisfies the concept of success? Your answer will be different to the person next to you. Maybe you believe that you or your achievements are the answer. Irrespective of that answer, it is submitted that the quest for success is a constant journey of evaluation and re-evolution, trial and error and wins and losses. The quest does not really end. The starting point of this quest is introspection. Imagine yourself flying above a map of your life so far and picturing it with a bird’s eye view. Reflect on where you are now and plan where you want to be in the future. The people who you associate yourself with also have a crucial role to play. In addition to technology, you need to partner with the right people. Finally, be clear on your goals and vision and always remember that this is a personal journey and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success. The quote below offers a great end to this article: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates
Given the technology takeover, it is almost impossible to remain on the quest for success without considering the influence of
Welcome Decisive leadership
As a member of the CHRO SA advisory board, I am proud to introduce this second issue of our burgeoning communityâ€™s magazine. The HR profession is changing at a rapid rate and a magazine like this plays an important role in that evolution as it allows us to connect with one another and keep our fingers on the pulse of what is happening in all our respective industries. Furthermore, as leaders in our field, we owe it to our ourselves and to the organisations that we represent to further the value-add and prestige of our profession. Successful leaders do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time; rather, they stand out for being more decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction. They do so consistently and they consider the potential impact if they get it wrong â€“ even amid ambiguity, with incomplete information, and in unfamiliar domains. They realise that a wrong decision may be better than no decision at all and that they cannot always wait for perfect information. However, they work actively to solicit input. These leaders also know when not to decide and they consider the impact if they do not make the decision. This inspires their team members to trust their own judgment on operational decisions. When a decision has been made, such leaders press ahead without doubt. It is critical for businesses and leaders to adjust to a rapidly changing environment. They need the capability to deal with unusual situations and to be ready to adapt. Successful leaders continue to scan the business environment, even outside their own sector. As a result, they can anticipate change and proactively make the required moves to take advantage of it. With all that said, I encourage you to read every story in this magazine and hope that many of the voices and ideas in this issue give you the impetus you need to make a bigger impact in your organisations. Enjoy.
JEANETT MODISE CHRO SOUTH AFRICA BOARD ADVISOR | CHRO SANLAM INVESTMENTS
Tough talks: the dark arts of HR on page 64
12 The value of early engagement If you can engage people as early as possible with your thinking and with your big ideas, you can bounce those off people, get more ideas and meet less resistance, says TFG HR executive Senta Morley.
22 Business with a conscience â€œWe have to make a meaningful contribution, not only to the bottom line but also to the communities in which we operate," says Tirelo Sibisi, executive vice president of group HR at AngloGold Ashanti.
70 People at the centre Capitec Bank HR exec Nathan Motjuwadi feels fortunate to have worked in companies where the HR boss operates at board level.
04 Jeanett Modise 09 Sungula Nkabinde 18 Leslie Rance 68 Xolani Mawande 79 Maud Meijvis
54 Challenging the status quo Tough calls and change have always been par for the course for Media24â€™s Shelagh Goodwin, who talks about courage, creativity and changing a broken system.
36 HR in Africa: Marge Mantjie 42 Tech revolution: power to the people 60 A chat with Sappiâ€™s Fergus Marupen 74 Take a chance on people: Christian Schaub
CHRO Community 26 Discussing humans and machines 31 Epic HR Indaba instant success 50 Wanted: self-confidence and sponsors (f)
Managing editor Sungula Nkabinde firstname.lastname@example.org +27 (0)72 741 6171 Editor in chief JoĂŤl Roerig email@example.com +27 (0)76 371 2856 CHRO community manager Maud Meijvis firstname.lastname@example.org +27 (0)60 691 8849 Photography Patrick Furter Other contributors Leslie Rance, Kate Ferreira, Judith Kamffer, Shane Johnson, Xolani Mawande 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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Talking tech The fourth industrial revolution has become something of a buzz phrase and it is one of those that is so overused that it is fast becoming redundant. That does not take away from the fact that the world of work is changing rapidly and HR leaders like yourselves have a responsibility to ensure you remain prepared for whatever that means for your organisations. In this issue of CHRO Magazine, technology and digitisation is a recurring theme, most notably in the coverage of May’s CHRO Summit (page 26), where HR executives discussed the lessons they have learnt from their own efforts around HR tech. We also speak to Dimension Data’s Michaela Voller and other tech-savvy experts about the most exciting HR applications that organisations are using (page 42). Christian Schaub (page 74) from Alexander Forbes talks about his experience as a relatively young CHRO and how SA compares to the US on a variety of HR issues. Capitec's Nathan Motjuwadi (page 70) explains the importance of putting people first and AngloGold Ashanti's Tirelo Sibisi (page 22) shares her thoughts on what it means to do business with a conscience. Look out for Leslie Rance’s interesting article about messaging and organisational values in his story about the events that led up to his appointment at British American Tobacco (page 18). There are also valuable insights on sensitivity and legalese in an article about handling mass retrenchments and reprimanding or disciplining non-performing executives (page 64). Lastly, the issue includes highlights from the first Women’s dinner event (page 50), in which more than a hundred female business leaders and mentees from the finance and HR professions came together on an evening all about empowering women in the workplace.
SUNGULA NKABINDE SNKABINDE@CHRO.CO.ZA +27 (0)72 741 6171
Barriers to AI at work A study conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace, a research firm preparing leaders for disruptions in recruiting, development and employee engagement, concludes that cost, security risks and tech failure are among the main barriers to AI adoption. The study of 1,320 HR leaders and employees in the US shows a large gap between the way people are using AI at home and at work.
Nedbank appoints Fuller Nedbank has appointed Deborah Fuller as group executive. Deborah has 24 years of HR experience of which 17 have been spent in the financial services sector. Prior to this, while living in the UK, Deborah held a number of European and global HR roles at General Electric, and, since her return to South Africa in 2010, has held HR leadership roles at other large South African banks.
Titled â€˜AI at Workâ€™, the study finds that, while 70 percent of people are using some form of AI in their personal life, only 6 percent of HR professionals are actively deploying AI and only 24 percent of employees are currently using some form of AI at work. Meanwhile, more than half of employees are concerned they would be able able to acquire the skills necessary for rapid adoption while 74 percent identified cost as a major barrier.
Mahange to Famous Brands
Magagula joins Tiger Brands
Famous Brands has appointed Jabulani Mahange as its new group HR executive. Prior to this, Jabu spent over a decade as the human capital director of Primedia. Having begun his career as a teacher, his first job in HR was at Standard Bank before he went on to hold senior HR positions at Absa, Deloitte and the Edcon Group.
Tiger Brands has appointed Sinenhlanhla Magagula as CHRO. Before her appointment, Sinenhlanhla held various human resources leadership positions at Sasol, most recently as the Senior Vice President for Group Human Resources. Prior to joining Sasol, she spent ten years at Shell in various roles. Sinenhlanhla succeeds Tswelo Kodisang, who recently joined Discovery.
CHRO.co.za Executive remuneration figures A recently released PwC report on executive remuneration states that in 2017, the average pay for the CEOs and CFOs of the 10 largest JSE-listed companies was R24.9 million and R15.1 million respectively. For executive directors, the average was R8.7 million. The report also finds that the average pay ratio for a company – which is the ratio between the total remuneration of the CEO and the average of the total remuneration of all other employees of the company – has increased from 61.8 in 2017 to 64.7 in 2018.
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
Old Mutual SA appoints Ross
Bosses waste time
Old Mutual South Africa has appointed Celiwe Ross as its new Human Capital Director. Celiwe is a qualified mining engineer and MBA graduate. She has built her career at Standard Bank, where she has held senior investment banking roles in South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, covering the mining, energy, real estate and infrastructure sectors.
A new study on organisational friction by Stanford University explains how bosses waste a lot of their employees’ time. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, professor Robert Sutton says that by assigning time-consuming tasks, making unhelpful offhand comments and refusing to delegate, business leaders may tend to make other people’s jobs more difficult than they need to be.
• A free online membership with weekly newsletter Contribute Do you know an HR director who has great insights to share? Do you want to contribute your expertise? Do you have ideas that can help CHRO.co.za get bigger and better faster? Then contact managing editor Sungula Nkabinde today. Sungula Nkabinde | snkabinde@ chro.co.za | +27 (0)72 741 6171
The value of early engagement “People are social animals. If you can engage them as early as possible with your thinking, with your big ideas, you can bounce those off people, get more ideas and meet less resistance. As soon as people have been engaged, they start talking to each other and preparing for change.” BY JOËL ROERIG
When a line manager calls a meeting and asks an HR manager to be present, I step in and ask them why,” says Senta Morley, HR executive at TFG, formerly – and perhaps better – known as The Foschini Group. “Line managers ARE people managers,” she says, describing a salient example from Retail Apparel Group (RAG), the Australian business that TFG acquired in 2017. “Payroll falls under the CFO there and there is no HR department. Their line managers are people managers who never have more than five people reporting to them. They recruit, they train, they mentor and they coach.” Senta joined the TFG board in 2016, after a long career in various HR roles in the group. “To sit on the board is absolutely a highlight,” she says, in one breath admitting that the learning curve is steep and the responsibility of overseeing the 400-people-strong function is sometimes stressful. “The role brings extra meetings and a lot of reading. I am completely immersed in the nuts and bolts of running the company. That is really exciting.”
Born in Pretoria to parents who had immigrated by ship from The Netherlands, Senta aspired to be an actress. Her father, who was a hairdresser just like his own father, didn’t think much of that and told his “meisje” that was not going to happen. “I then looked at retail and thought buying was a glamorous job,” says Senta, who moved to UCT to study industrial psychology and has mostly stayed put in the Mother City ever since.
How not to treat people
and was basically just left on the floor as a sales person. “It taught me a lot about how not to treat people and the destructive power of really poor leadership.” Although she had kept applying for buying jobs at Truworths and Foschini, Senta eventually ended up in HR and says this is exactly where she belonged. “At the time, HR people all came out of a particular mould,” she says. “They had gone through private girls school, UCT and were on the Dean’s merit list. There was no gender diversity, and the senior roles were taken up by men. It was so backward.” Senta teamed up with Brent Curry – TFG’s current CIO – early in her career and their professional partnership accelerated her exposure and allowed her to grow faster than most of her peers. “Brent was running distribution centres and nobody from HR wanted to work there. There were a number of facilities, including a large facility in Johannesburg, which were heavily unionised. It was militant, there was no technology involved and the educational level of employees was very low. The managers were also very old school. I put my hand up and we started a big turnaround together. We could basically do our thing, as nobody else wanted to be involved. We moved all facilities to Cape Town, put technology in place and turned it around.” After that, Senta ran various projects, became head of HR for IT and then Head of HR for the Sports division, which includes TotalSports, Sportscene and Due South. Her next role, as head of Talent Management, turned out to be a make-or-break role. Needless to say, Senta made it.
A series of bad experiences early in her career tested and shaped Senta’s resolve and resilience, but also inspired her priorities as a leader later on. Her first job as trainee manager at Edcon on Adderley street was “six months of absolute pure hell”, she recalls. As a young and bright manager-to-be she received no training or mentorship
“Until then, we did everything in silos,” she says. “I put in best practice and we started doing talent planning across the group. For brands that don’t compete, we put in learning academies centrally. When you take the emotion out of it, it all makes sense, but that change was unbelievably painful and we lost a few people going through this process.
“I have benefited so much from people giving me time and throwing me in the deep end.”
From then on, we prescribed how we do performance management, recruitment and training.” It caused many sleepless nights, she says. “I was extremely unpopular and people can get ugly in those circumstances. When someone starts attacking you personally, it is very hard. To get everybody on board, I did a lot of one-on-ones, a lot of communication. I sat with the heads of HR of the brands many, many times, but at some stage I had to say: 'you need to get over yourself'." One of Senta’s biggest lessons, and one that she applies on a daily basis as HR boss, is the importance of involving and listening to alternate voices early on, as it helps the organisation to prepare for change as a collective. Partly thanks to this lesson the current implementation of shared services, still in its early stages, is not encountering any significant resistance and is seen as an admin-reducing blessing by most brands. “People are social animals. If you can engage them as early as possible with your thinking, with your big ideas, you can bounce those off people, get more ideas and meet less resistance. As soon as people have been engaged, they start talking to each other and preparing for change.”
People without a voice Senta makes a point of stating in her LinkedIn profile that she values humility and cares about people who don’t have a voice. “Head office people already have their voice,” she explains. “People here in the office in Parow should be able to help themselves with transactional activities. As HR, our job is to write the policy and make it easily accessible to all through various channels. You don’t need
the HR department to find a policy. Look it up yourself! I want to move more resources to support people without a voice, particularly in our stores nationally.” For Senta, that is the essence of one of the values of TFG that she holds high: making profit decently. “You can’t make profit when stores somewhere in the country don’t have proper leave or overtime practices in place. That is when HR needs to step in. Shopping centres change their trading times all the time, but some employees take three taxis and then still have to walk just to get home. They are vulnerable. We need to be cognisant of that when we deal with situations like that and target our selection strategies.” As part of living those values, Senta is driving a Leading Change programme within TFG, aligning the senior executives with the company’s strategies and values in a practical way. “How do you build a sustainable business? What is your responsibility as an executive? What questions do you ask your people? Do you care? In the last few years there have been many examples of greed in corporate South Africa, which shows the value of a values-based approach like this.” To make sure the discussions have a lasting effect that is directly linked to KPIs, this is always followed up with the introduction of “a lot of metrics”, says Senta, giving examples like measuring late take-on data, labour turnover and voice of employee (employee engagement) scores. Another conscious change that Senta has initiated recently is a move away from expensive recruit-
ment agencies and the creation of an in-house search function. “For jobs that occur across the business, we can map talent,” she says. “In HR, we used to only recruit from social sciences down to people with an HR diploma. Now I have five CAs and business science graduates. I also see data scientists playing a bigger role.” This is true for functions across the business where new skills such as data science will be critical for our future.
The answer is in the data Traditionally, HR people haven’t been taught to ask the questions that data should make you ask, Senta admits. “Why is the labour turnover high somewhere? The answer is in the data. We are forcing the data onto the teams now from head office. We push the data through. We are teaching the
brand heads to ask the questions. It is the role of HR to put the data in front of the line managers and help them take better decisions to improve the business.” Senta mentions her previous boss Shani Naidoo as a great teacher and also refers to Brent Curry as a mentor. “They have given me exposure and have. They have always been a sounding board." The best way to learn is when you have someone who is grappling with something similar, she says. “Don’t go at it solo, that is what I have learnt. I have benefited so much from people giving me time and throwing me in the deep end. Never think you have all the answers. That links back to humility, which is an extremely important one for me.”
Who tells the story of your company? BAT Southern Africa’s HR head Leslie Rance talks about his appointment and the experience that convinced him he was joining the right company.
BY LESLIE RANCE
’ve been at British American Tobacco (BAT) for 15 years so far. For many reasons, it’s a company choice I am very pleased I made, not least for the cross-functional career, the multi-cultural experiences that have come with being in an international company, and being part of a team of professionals with a real passion to win. Significantly, the values of the company; those of being open-minded, entrepreneurial in nature, deriving strength from our diversity, and having freedom with responsibility, have all spoken to my own needs and made my career fulfilling. But how did I come to join BAT? Thinking back, it wasn't uppermost in my mind to go into the tobacco industry after working for a decade in a global mining resources business. When
the option did come up though, BAT’s widely known reputation for being a great developer of people quickly sat among the key reasons I would consider the company. There was, however, another unexpected reason that soon made its way up my list of reasons to join and this is the focus of my article. I won’t go into the details of the rigorous interview processes that you expect prospective candidates to pass through to become part of a leading company such as BAT, but rather I want to share with you an unusual situation that gave me certainty I was making the right choice in joining BAT.
Meeting the company driver It was January 2003 that I was invited to interview with the company. After a series of stages, I was flown from Johannesburg
On diversity and talent “For us diversity is not removed from talent, it is one and the same thing. The strength of our company’s leadership is not in being homogeneous, but in being open-minded to leverage our differences. Being one of the worlds’ most global companies, we certainly understand diversity very well, and thrive in the strength of it, in all its forms. We’re making a lot of progress towards developing the next generation of outstanding, capable leaders with both a strong domestic and international outlook to steer our companies in all situations.”
“The pride and meaning that the directors said they derived from the company, was similar to what the driver was talking about.”
On succession planning “We are very forward-looking in this regard. Our succession plans are forecast for all senior management and key roles five years forward. At any given time, the company has a very good handle on how their talent will evolve from the most senior roles to those of junior managers. Our plans are granular, ensuring that we keep track of who is due for promotions, and to what roles, who needs international experience, and who is being brought back from assignments in order lead particular areas of the business, and within what timelines.”
to Cape Town to visit the company’s area headquarters, then in Stellenbosch, to meet with an interviewing panel. On that day, a BAT driver picked me up. We made idle chit-chat, as one sometimes does, talking about the city, the company, and I’m not sure what else. The interview at the company went well, certainly well enough to soon thereafter be informed of a final face-to-face interview with three of the company’s directors, a fortnight or so later. Coincidentally, I was met by the same driver at the airport. I later learnt the company had more than one driver. Naturally, we talked again, this time with a little more familiarity. At the interview, the directors got to ask their questions, and so did I, with focused intent. I enquired about the ethos of the company, what made it great, quizzed them on
its values and on why they were motivated to work for the company. I wanted to understand the DNA of the organisation. Suffice to say, I was impressed and convinced BAT was indeed a great company. If they were selling the company to me, then they had sold it well.
Pride and meaning Back to the airport, with the same driver, we continued our conversation and spoke more about the company. It suddenly dawned on me that a clear pattern was emerging. The pride and meaning that the directors said they derived from the company, was similar to what the driver was talking about. The values that they saw as critical to BAT's culture were being brought to life, through his own personal stories of the company. That caught my attention and I started to think that if they
Leslie Rance Area Head HR BAT Southern Africa Work: Joined British American Tobacco in 2003 as Head of Business Information Technology, with his impressive career including roles as Head of IT for Africa and the Middle East, GM for East African markets and global HR Business partner – leaf and procurement, based out of London. Leslie started his career at Anglo American, first in his country of birth Zimbabwe and later in South Africa and the UK. Education: Educated in Harare, Zimbabwe, with Cambridge A levels from Prince Edward school and a diploma in Information Systems from the CCOSA College.
made me a decent offer I would join, because what I saw in the driver was an organisation that I felt: • Must be authentic, if its intended values were being evidenced across the organisation; • Didn’t say one thing, and then do another; • Has an ability to lift what it wants to be, off paper, off brochures and websites, beyond the mouths of its executives, into the working reality of employees. Weeks later I accepted the offer that was made with a good degree of conviction that I was doing the right thing. When I next saw the driver, I was only too pleased to let him know he had influenced my decision to join. The congruence of his expe-
riences of BAT, with those told in the boardroom, made the difference. Years later I still tell the story. Why? What was the lesson for me? Well, we all share stories of our company, given how we experience it. We are constantly relating it to the world, knowingly and at times unknowingly. People are always listening though. So, let the reality of our companies invoke passion and enthusiasm, and inform great memories and stories for our employees. As was my situation, it may just be the story told by someone far from the interviewing panel or the boardroom that makes the difference for the next potential hire.
Business with a conscience AngoGold Ashanti’s Tirelo Sibisi can't stress enough the importance of making a meaningful impact. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
irelo Sibisi started her career as a social worker and is still one at heart. The executive vice president of group HR at AngloGold Ashanti is an MBA graduate with over 20 years' local and international experience who strongly believes that someone’s life, both professionally and otherwise, must have a meaningful and positive impact on others. For her, everything she does must have some modicum of social relevance in terms of making a difference in the world. “I always try to make it a point in my engagements that, as leaders, we have to make a meaningful contribution, not only to the bottom line but also to the communities in which we operate," says Tirelo, adding that education is key to progress. “I honestly believe that improving education would go a long way to reducing the levels of social inequality within our country.” At the same time, individuals can make an impact, Tirelo testifies. “At every company I've worked in, I've done mentorship programmes and socially relevant initiatives that address some of the macro
challenges that we face as a country. I've tried to focus on opportunities that enable me to contribute to addressing socio-economic challenges and being a change agent as much as possible." Tirelo, who is one of the most anticipated speakers at the HR Indaba Africa on 3 and 4 October, spent her formative years in the information technology sector, first at IBM in South Africa and Paris and thereafter six years with Telkom. She joined AngloGold after being the Group HR and Sustainable Development Executive at PPC, with responsibility across South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, DRC, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Best practice She has particularly enjoyed her role in the acquisition of the new mining licences and played an integral role in the development of sustainable community projects and social labour plans. During her tenure, she has played a key role in the change management programme as well as the implementation of a new remuneration strategy aligned to the industry’s best practice.
She also developed and launched a mentorship programme for young talent within PPC, a company where she enjoyed her time particularly because the CEO at the time, Ketso Gordhan, was so committed to improving the lives of others that he sacrificed his own salary so that the lowest-earning employees could get reasonable increases in wages. The company also built houses for many employees at PPC, which is something that Tirelo says she will always be proud to have been a part of because, no matter what happens, those people will now always have a decent house to call their home. Says Tirelo: “One of the workers once stood up in a meeting and said that he still lived in a mud house, despite having made it his life's work to manufacture cement and the CEO empathised with the employee and initiated the employee housing initiative. It drove home the idea that this was somebody that I wanted to work with.” It was the same inspiration of having such a leader that similarly led her to join AngloGold Ashanti, whose former CEO, Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan (affectionately known as Venkat), undertook similar processes, refusing a salary increase for a few years and establishing his own bursary fund to educate a few underprivileged students. “That's why, for me, any role I go into has a lot to do with the quality and values of the leadership.”
A bigger reach
and society at large. This is because you get exposure to all the communities where the mines are situated which, more often than not, are impoverished, particularly in Africa. “One can make a difference through education programmes, local employment and through internal talent development but, ultimately, I think I wanted something much more impactful. For me, the mining industry operates on a much bigger scale. Even talent management, from an HR perspective, is not only about internal succession, but also about the talent in the areas in which we operate.”
The importance of mentorship Soft-spoken yet strong-willed, Tirelo says that, in the context of the current macro socio-economic challenges in SA today, including high unemployment rates, HR executives can play a pivotal role in coming up with lasting solutions to help alleviate some of the social challenges while contributing to organisational and success.
“Sometimes it is important to remind leaders that they are successful because someone gave them an opportunity.”
In her current role, she oversees the HR capability of an international gold-mining company with 20 operations across South America, Africa and Australia, which employs more than 40,000 people. Tirelo says the mining space gives one an opportunity to make a difference and contribute on a large scale across all levels of the organisation
Tirelo says she was fortunate to have been mentored by successful black females, who saw something in her and gave her an opportunity to become the person that she is today. This is why she is a strong believer in mentorship and up-skilling young talent to enable them to climb the corporate ladder and meaningfully contribute to their respective organisations.
“Companies often want people who are ready to jump into a new role and hit the ground running, but sometimes it is important to remind leaders that they are successful because someone gave them an opportunity – they were not born CEOs. They were also given a chance by people who believed in them. We therefore have to offer young, hard-working people opportunities,” she says.
Africa is a continent of contrasts, unique challenges and amazing opportunities. Succeeding here depends on having a deep understanding of local issues, a global perspective, and the ability to use these to build tailored solutions. We’ve been doing business in Africa for almost a century, and over 9000 professionals in 34 countries are working with our clients to add value to their businesses. It’s what we do. At PwC, we see opportunities where others see challenges. www.pwc.com/africa
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Discussing humans & machines
A CHRO SA summit saw HR executives share insights on how to navigate the impact of technology on their teams and their organisations.
n May, HR executives attended a summit at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) on how to embrace robotics and artificial intelligence. Sponsored by Workday and the GSB, the event
brought some of the country's top HR heads together to share each other's thoughts on what they were currently implementing
and robotics in organisations was a mindset problem. He said companies and the people that lead them need to shift their collective mindsets from one that thinks about technology as a 'human vs. machine' concept to one that understands how machines and humans will have to complement each other in the world of work in order to create better value and increase productivity.
in their organisations and what frustrations they had. Deloitte's Marienus Trouw said one of the biggest obstacles to the proper implementation of AI
After a brief introduction, attendees spread out into four different roundtable discussions centred around the following three questions:
â€˘ What part of your work will be positively impacted by robotics and/or AI? â€˘ How are you and your team embracing these changes? â€˘ Can you describe the practical steps that you have or will take to implement robotics and/or AI? Here are some of the key takeaways from those discussions:
Chatbots are a godsend Chatbots were among the solutions most commonly applied within companies represented at the event, with many saying that
(Left to right): Ryan Knipe (Alexander Forbes), Christian Schaub (Alexander Forbes), Marge Mantjie (Alexander Forbes) & Thozama Nene (Kagiso Tiso Holdings)
Ryan Knipe (Alexander Forbes) & Christian Schaub (Alexander Forbes).
one of the most mundane tasks for the HR teams was dealing with queries. They agreed that having dedicated HR support centres to help employees answer basic company-related information on policies and processes were a waste of resources. Rather, chatbots can serve as a mobile HR assistant that helps employees get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, allowing HR to be more productive. Adams & Adams Head of HR Marge Mantjie (now at Alexander
Karen Nicholls (Workday), Dean Naidoo (Aurecon) & Amena Hayat (UCT GSB)
Forbes) said this was something that she would certainly appreciate as she is often stopped by colleagues to answer questions around company policies to which they could easily find the answers. Wesbank's Kelebogile Mazwai, said: "We have automated 24 processes. It's been a very steep learning process but it has allowed us to figure out what works and what doesn't. One of the most important lessons we've learnt was to ensure we employed someone to oversee the bots. We once had a situation when the bots weren't respond-
ing to queries and, only after an hour, realised that they had not been activated that morning." Andre Vermeulen (Deloitte) shared a story about a client that ran a large learning organisation, which wanted robotic/ AI solutions that would enable them to assist their staff: "They would typically appoint learning experts but what happened was that they essentially became travel agents, because they then had to book the flights and organise meals and accommodation for these guest lecturers while they should have been focus-
Darryl Feldman (Edcon) & Rasoava Rija (UCT GSB).
Kelebogile Mazwai (Wesbank)
sing on the course material and actual administering of the teaching process. We introduced automatic flight assistants, which were essentially chatbots that would handle all that stuff for the visiting expert and allow the organisation to focus on their core activities. The experts had no idea that they were interacting with a robot. They would still send emails to secure their bookings and flight information, but that actual work was done automatically."
Justifying the expense Regarding the fear that employees have around what robotics and AI means for their job security, Cargo Carriers HR Director Pauline Legodi said that people simply needed to be reassured
that their companies would not discard them at a moment's notice. "People want to feel will still be able to provide for their families. As long as they feel that they will be brought along in the journey, there will be less fear associated with implementing robotics and AI in the organisation," she said. Many companies want to adopt a wait-and-see approach in terms of applying new technologies to improve their processes but, when it comes to timing, Pauline said it was inadvisable to only start changing because they were being forced to by their competitors as the impact would be negative. Andre agreed and said it is
important to have a corporate culture and a leadership team that embraces change and champions innovation because otherwise, things will not move quickly enough. He said: "Don't do nothing. Rather try to innovate at a pace that the organisation can handle. If there is a process that involves six different approvals, for example, it may not be a good idea to implement a solution that only reduces that number to one person. Rather reduce it three and then, in two years, reduce it further to onl one person. Because the last thing you want to do is destabilise the entire organisation." One of the key challenges raised by many of the attend-
(Left to right): Pauline Legodi (Cargo Carriers), Nokuthula Kamwendo (Four Seasons) & Dean Naidoo (Aurecon).
ees was the difficulty in trying to convince their boards to make the capital investment in HR tech solutions. MondelĂŠz International's Cebile Xulu said the challenge was that the business case for HR tech involved long-term returns, while executive leadership teams would be more impressed with interventions that would lead to headcount reductions in the near term, for example. Verna Robson, Director for Group Human Resources at Sun International, said the top three executives in the leadership team were all chartered accountants, which meant she had to substantiate any proposal she had with hard numbers. But this can be a challenge when it
Marienus Trouw (Deloitte)
comes to robotics and AI because so much of what companies are trying is unchartered territory, which will involve a significant amount of trial and error.
uates it is worse. Because, even
Education needs to improve
Head of Talent at FNB Wealth
The event closed with a Q&A session in which one of the main concerns that was raised was education. All the attendees recognised that the world of work was changing and that the skill requirements are evolving at a rapid pace. "About 90 percent of graduate programmes spend the first six months to a year teaching young employees soft skills. And that is a lot of money that is being spent. When it comes to IT grad-
with the highest university qualification, it's almost as if you have to teach them everything from scratch," said Tshidi Khunou, and Investments. Cebile said her main concern is that HR leaders tend to see their roles as being internally focused on the organisations for which they work. But, because they are the ones that are first to see the impact of the country's poor education system, they should also be playing an external role to point out to academic institutions that the skills are coming into their organisations are not the skills that they need.ď‚Ł
THE BIGGEST HR CONFERENCE
BUILD YOUR CAREER
16 & 17 October 2019 | Sandton Convention Centre
HR professionals register for FREE www.hr-indaba.co.za
Epic HR Indaba instant success With over 3,000 HR professionals, 50 amazing speakers and 40 partners and exhibitors, this year’s inaugural HR Indaba Africa proves to be exactly what HR in South Africa needs.
The HR Indaba is exactly what the HR community has been yearning for, for quite some time,” says Marge Mantjie, the recently appointed HR director of Alexander Forbes Investments. “It is a platform where diversified HR community members gather, engage and shape the future of the HR profession. I am thrilled to be a member of this community!”
thousands of HR professional yearning to learn, network and unlock their true potential. From now on, it is the best event on the HR calendar where human resources professionals could get up to speed with the latest trends, technologies and HR hacks. The event brings together thousands of colleagues, suppliers, platforms, universities, specialists, recruitment agencies, CHROs and thought leaders under one roof in the Sandton Convention Centre.
There is no doubt that the inaugural HR Indaba Africa on 3 and 4 October promises to be an astonishing gathering of
“You can only get true lessons in life through these type of platforms. I can’t wait to participate,” says AngoGold Ashanti’s Dr.
James Ramakau. One of his fellow speakers, Tshidi Khunou of FNB Wealth and Investments, is equally bullish: “It’s going to be epic, I am so excited!”
Palpable excitement The excitement in the HR community has been palpable, ever since the event was announced. “Younger generations and the way they approach the world are rapidly changing as more and more business leaders realise – or find out the hard way – that the organisation’s strategy needs to be aligned with its HR strategy,” says Maud Meijvis, the community manager for CHRO South Africa. “This is the age of HR!
The success of your organisation now depends on the way you as HR directors build the skills, talent and capacity for the future.”
people challenges facing their respective organisations and the country.”
Influential HR experts have been closely involved in putting together the programme. “I’m proud to be part of this platform, because I’m passionate about creating the leaders of tomorrow through people transformation across sectors,” says Absa’s Sthembiso PPhakathi, whose observation is echoed by Ndivhu Nepfumbada of Transunion: “There are not many opportunities for us as HR professionals to learn from each other and to connect, so the HR Indaba is a unique opportunity to do just that and I cannot miss it!” Brigitte Da Gama of McDonalds SA is also one of the speakers. She says: “The HR Indaba is a wonderful platform for HR practitioners to learn, network, compare notes and advance the profession; all of which in turn will enhance the capacity of the HR community to tackle the most pressing
CHRO South Africa’s advisory board members Shirley Zinn (a legendary HR leader who worked for many companies) and Jeanett Modise (Sanlam Investments) are also backing the event. “I am excited to be part of the HR Indaba,” says Jeanett. “What a powerful platform to connect, learn and share experiences with such a diverse community of professionals!” And Shirley says: “The HR Indaba is a great opportunity for HR professionals to get together and to share the learnings, and also enable and support each other through engagement.” With 40 partners backing the conference and exhibition, all the latest and greatest in HR will be on display. We asked some of the partners what the hottest topic in HR is at the moment and this is what they said:
Willem Gouws, Inside Risk: “Trust and ethics. These are two bigticket items of major concern in both the public and private sectors. How entrenched are individual moral compasses in guiding decision-making, how ethical are business practices and are risk profiles an indicator of moral and ethical behaviour?”
Jurie Van Zyl, Skillogical: “People development that is focused on the actual needs of the company, balanced with promoting employees’ career aspirations has always been a challenge. The dream of establishing a culture of employee development self-service is stifled by cumbersome procedures to identify skills gaps and even more stifling processes to develop and avail learning that impacts productivity and ultimately employee marketability.”
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Dr Pat Smythe, Emergence Growth: “African organisations are generally more compassionate, diverse and culturally aware than their American or European counterparts, so employees generally work in a more accepting and tolerant workplace. What companies in African countries haven’t yet mastered is how to maximise efficiency and to engage with their workforces in such a way that it delivers the most effective results.”
Frank Magwegwe, THRIVE Financial Wellness: “Millennials and how to manage them. They have such a different outlook to work and many companies find it hard to keep them engaged. In the shortterm, this affects turnover and talent management costs because companies constantly must train new people or poach talent from other organisations when millennials exit the organisation. In the long term, this is a trend that could spell disaster for a lot of companies that are going to struggle with a leadership vacuum due to their inability to keep millennials in their organisations and the fact that in the years ahead, most companies’ clients will be millennials.”
Akesh Lalla, SAP SuccessFactors: “There is pressure on businesses of all sizes today to rely on their people and the agility of the organisation to thrive and transform digitally. Organisations must be able to attract, develop, and retain the best people – tapping into their full potential and meaningfully connectimg them to the company’s purpose and mission. At the same time, people expect a different experience at work, especially when it comes to technology. They expect to work like they live intuitively – in the moment and in real time.”
Roy Gluckman, Cohesion Collective: “One of the challenges that are particular to the South African context is 'transformation', which I think is inexplicably linked to talent attraction and retention. So, for me, this should be one of the top concerns for all HR Leaders. They need to be constantly thinking about how they identify, attract and keep the best talent, which is in very limited supply, especially when companies have to think about things like employment equity. They have to think about how they should be training talent to make sure that they have the skill set to thrive in a dauntingly uncertain future business environment.”
TEACH AND LEARN â€œThere's no magic pill that you can give to people to make them adopt any given corporate culture,â€? says Marge Mantjie, who recently joined Alexander Forbes Investments from law firm Adams & Adams. Marge has become one of our top experts when it comes to rolling out HR in other African countries. How did that happen? And what has she learned? BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
arge Mantjie’s key takeaway from working in the rest of Africa is that one must never go to other African countries with the attitude that you're going to teach, but also with one of going to learn. The cultural differences mean there are things that do not work in South Africa that might be very successful elsewhere. “I found, for example, that when I want to introduce something new in South Africa,
there is resistance to change, but when I was out there, I saw a willingness to experiment.” In October, Marge started in her new role as HR leader at Alexander Forbes Investments after a successful period at Adams & Adams. For this interview, we spoke to her about the lessons she learnt from the start of her career, when she was thrown in the deep end at Multichoice and later at Bowmans. It all started with a one-year internship at Multichoice, after
she was approached to work for the company’s rest of Africa business. It was a new role that required a lot of travelling and the company took a chance on her because they were not sure if the role was going to materialise into something that added value or not. “They essentially hedged their bets with me because, instead of appointing someone who was very experienced into what was very much an experimental role, they could take a graduate who would basically be like a new employee, even though I had
“The opportunity to contribute towards the 2020 vision was most appealing to me. I believe my contribution as an HR professional will provide value and will be partly instrumental in implementing and mobilising AF Investments to achieve this vision.” Marge commenting on her recent move from Adams & Adams to Alexander Forbes Investments.
been at the company for only 12 months as an intern during my studies,” says Marge. “The timing of the opportunity was perfect because I had just spent all of those years at university, so learning came very naturally to me,” she says, revealing her plan of action. “I would use my experience from South Africa and improve or customise it where necessary when implementing it in the rest of Africa.” Marge would go on to spend seven years servicing the rest of
Africa, which included the east, west and SADC regions, building HR structures from nothing into fully fledged and operational HR divisions throughout each of the Africa businesses. “I would have nobody reporting to me and would basically have to go into a business and convince them why they needed to set up an HR function,” explains Marge. “Once sold on the idea, the business would give me a headcount of how many people I could bring in to run the HR function, as I would invariably have to move on to another
jurisdiction…That's how I built my strength, capability and independence as an HR practitioner. I would go to a new country basically become the national HR director. The buck stopped with me, so I really had to get clued up very quickly on HR matters.”
Starting from scratch Marge says being part of bodies like the Institute of Personnel Management helped a lot because they made it easier to keep abreast of the HR issues to which one should be paying attention. Even then, it was still difficult because South Africa’s
employment law is far more advanced than in other African countries, though Marge tried to apply the same principles in general and created more localised policies and initiatives where necessary. After Multichoice, she moved to sister company M-Net, where she again had to build the HR profile within each of the respective businesses outside of Africa. “Different countries were at different stages in terms of their HR capabilities, so my role would vary depending on where I was. The systems in particular proved very challenging. There were many instances where, because of bandwidth limitations, I didn't have the luxury of using the systems I was accustomed to using in South Africa, so I had to improvise. For example, our performance management system was on PeopleSoft but the rest of Africa businesses didn't have PeopleSoft, so I had to use Excel.”
Strong communicator In addition to being someone that learns very quickly, Marge says she benefitted from the fact that she is quite a strong communicator. When moving from one business to the next, she had to be able to build relationships quickly. As a new person walking into an entirely different organisation with a mandate from the head office, she had to be able to be the link between Africa businesses and the local office. Even though she was out there on her own, she would often engage with talent management experts in South Africa, for example, who would only be able to advise her based on her ability to properly communicate what the
challenges in those particular areas were. She found that, because they are relatively close to South Africa, her work was easier in Namibia, Zambia and Botswana because talent management, for example, was already a conversation they were having in those countries. Even though implementation was tricky, either because they didn't have the ideas or resources on how to execute, they already had a high-level understanding of the subject in so far as how it was an essential business imperative. The further up north she went, the more she had to do to first convince management why certain HR initiatives were necessary in the first place before beginning to design and implement solutions. “Practically, after the first few trips, I would do an audit of all the offices, finding out what was in place and what was still needed from an HR point of view. Different offices were operating at different levels and had different pressures,” Marge recalls. “My HR strategy, therefore, had to be ninefold because each country had prioritised different agendas. At the same time, my strategy had to make sure that, within a period of two to three years, all those offices would have to reach comparable levels of HR functionality.”
most, as the law firm was interested in growing its footprint on the rest of the continent, which it did by first associating with smaller law firms and eventually rebranding each of them to make them all part of the Africa business. "Again it was a matter of selling the function to those businesses. I had to explain why they needed to have a people strategy in place and what it had to look like.” One of the challenges she faced was inculcating Bowman's culture into all those other businesses, which was difficult because culture can be a tricky animal sometimes. “It is not something that one can copy and paste. There's no magic pill that you can give to people to make them adopt any given corporate culture. So I introduced an exchange programme where junior lawyers from our Nairobi office, for example, would spend time in Sandton and one would go the other way.”
Culture can be a tricky animal
The idea was to have some culture sharing process so that the people engaging with those who have been seconded can get a real sense of how things are done in another office. The programme went a long way towards inculcating a culture that embodied every office and, in the end, was so successful that it was extended from a three-month period to six months and is now a full year secondment.
After M-Net, Marge joined Bowmans as an HR manager and soon learnt that it was her experience at Multichoice and M-Net that interested her employers
"When you are in Sandton dealing with the person in Nairobi, you have a vested interest because, one, you actually know
Head of HR Alexander Forbes Investments Work: Joined Alexander Forbes Investments as Head of HR in October 2018 after two years at law firm Adams & Adams in the same role. Started her career at Multichoice in 2006 and moved to M-Net in 2009, where she was HR Manager for South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Oversaw HR in Africa for Bowmans between 2012 and 2016. Education: Bachelor of Arts Degree (Unisa), Honours in Industrial Psychology, (Wits University), Management Advancement Programme (Wits Business School),Media Management Programme (University of Stellenbosch Business School).
the person that you are dealing with and, two, you have personally spent time in that other business so you have some level of attachment towards it."
Beyond billable hours What she enjoyed most about having to build HR from the bottom up in new places was that she could improve upon what already existed in South Africa. When some processes in the local business had too much red tape, for instance, she was able
to test new ideas when designing new HR practices because there was a clean slate. As an example, she made changes to the performance management template for Bowmanâ€™s Nairobi office whereby lawyers were no longer evaluated solely based on billable hours. It was such a success that the Sandton office has since adopted the same measure. "Law firms are not typically good at performance manage-
ment. Lawyers are not equipped with having those conversations because there is a soft skill element to them. The change I introduced was to shift from simply looking at billable hours to ask the lawyers to put together a portfolio of evidence of the work they had done and the effort they had put into the cases they thought were worthy because that would give a better context than simply looking at billable hours in isolation," she says. ď‚Ł
POWER TO THE PEOPLE HRâ€™s TECH REVOLUTION As fear for the technological revolution starts to dissipate, HR teams are realising that their evergrowing kit of tech tools fuels better engagement and access to information, putting more power in the hands of employees. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
echnology is changing the HR function at a rapid pace. For leaders and HR professionals alike, the myriad of new tools can be overwhelming. How does one decide which should be prioritised and which are just nice to have? Ideally, you don’t want to jump into an HR technology implementation prematurely. There is also the danger of focusing on an exciting piece of technology, instead of getting the solution that actually solves a problem for your organisation. Deloitte’s Andre Vermeulen, who leads the company’s human capital HR transformation practice for Africa, says that the application of tech greatly depends on the industry that one is referring to and the types of employees they’re dealing with. For example, in sectors like manufacturing and mining, where there are large blue-collar workforces in the lower LSM, you can't assume that everyone has a smartphone, so that has to be taken into account. This differs quite significantly from how one would approach HR digitisation in an organisation of predominantly highly-skilled white-collar employees.
“Irrespective of the industry, companies have to be mindful of how HR tech is applied to improve the user experience in order to create an organisation of connected employees,” says Andre. “For me, that is an absolute must. Depending on the industry and the resources available to your organisation and your staff, there will be different kinds of solutions to keep employees engaged and connected. With any critical HR process, the ability to improve the ease of access and ability of the employee to engage with the organisation is what matters most.” Employees appreciate the predictiveness and the consistency of a digital process that takes care of backend stuff like salary payments, electronic payslips, automated inductions – all those things that should not be done by humans because they take a lot of time. Sometimes tech is not the answer,” says Andre. “If we are talking about someone's career progression, for example, employees will want to deal with a person and not a digital process. In that case, they would want to speak to a career counsellor or a training and development expert. But when it comes to receiving their salary on time, being a number is no problem. With things like employee
“With any critical HR process, the ability to improve the ease of access and ability of the employee to engage with the organisation is what matters most.” – Andre Vermeulen, Deloitte ent and was starting to provide insights into data that were never available before. It was followed by the birth of digital marketing.
engagement surveys, feedback processes, direct lines of communication to the CEO, chatbots for HR should free up time for them to do the things that only humans can do.”
(R)evolution of ERP systems Dimension Data HR Executive for Middle East and Africa, Michaela Voller, echoes what Andre says. Michaela has extensive experience with ERP systems changes and transitions. When she was at asset management firm Schroders, she was involved in the rolling out of Salesforce, which was one of the first software-as-a-service applications at a time when large-scale ERP solutions were still very popular. All of a sudden, the power was put in the hands of the consumer because, instead of overhauling their systems with customised ERP solutions, customers could get one platform and pick and choose how they wanted to use it. It was a game changer, says Michaela. It was the birth of agile ERP and the beginning of a shift away from ‘waterfall’ ERP systems. At the time, Michala didn't fully appreciate what a defining moment it was and how much it actually disrupted the sales world, she says now. It was the first platform that gave a 360-degree view of a cli-
“What happened in the sales environment during that period is what is happening in HR today. There has been about a ten-year lag between those sales innovations and the birth of platforms like Workday and SAP SuccessFactors, which have put the power in the hands of the individual,” says Michaela. "Workday is definitely an enabler to bring those benefits,” she says. “I think my understanding of relational databases and my appreciation of how configurations and rollouts of such systems work give me an edge in a world where HR has been stale for quite a long time. But things are changing quite rapidly, just as they did back when I was working in a sales context.”
At the manager’s fingertips Meanwhile, British American Tobacco Southern Africa’s Leslie Rance says the company recently went live with SAP’s SuccessFactors, which enables them to do performance management, talent management, recruitment, remuneration and compensation and record learning and development all on one platform. Says Leslie: “Our hiring is driven through the global hubs. Managers are empowered to raise hiring requests, have candidates identified and contracted.
“We have had a robotic expectation of human performance for far too long.” – Michaela Voller, Dimension Data The entire process is Service Level Agreement driven, and is between the line manager, the shared service centre hub and the candidate. All information about an employee and in the case of managers, their teams, are at their fingertips.” “Online training is also now a keystroke away on platforms such as Lynda.com and Harvard Manage Mentor. We have taken the bureaucracy out of HR processing, put line managers and the employees in the driving seat with world-class technology, and empowered them to own their development and people-management decisions directly. These changes continue to allow all our business, big or small, to access the same Human Resource capabilities as their colleagues anywhere else in the world.”
have empathy and EQ and can make mistakes,” she says. “So where you want a process delivered and done by a robot, we want it fast, accurate and it must be scaled. Robots are taking that mundane and tedious work away from people and allowing people to do the stuff they are more suited to,” she says, adding robots are not effective in isolation and really need to have a human intervention.
Robots are for mundane tasks At Dimension Data, Michaela and her colleagues are trying to understand which processes can be taken over by robots, a hot topic in most industries and professions, including HR. However, robots are sometimes difficult to understand in the professional services context. In manufacturing there are robots that literally build cars and in medicine there are robots that can assist in performing surgeries and do stitches in places too small for human fingers. But in the HR space, robots are macros, which are less tangible but just as remarkable.
As an example, Michaela refers to two robots in place at Dimension Data – one called Codey Mits whose surname stands for ‘Mere ITS (Intelligent Transformation System), and another robot called Pippa, which screens CVs. “We normally get hundreds of applications for our graduate programme and what Pippa does is read all the CVs and prescreen them, accelerating the processes of shortlisting candidates from one that takes three weeks to one that is done in three minutes.”
Michaela believes that the fear in the market of the robots taking is unwarranted because what they are actually doing is speeding up the mundane processes that people don’t enjoy doing. “The tagline I use internally is that we have had a robotic expectation of human performance for far too long. And the real value of humans is that they
Codey has an avatar and profile on the company's Workday app and can be emailed like another employee. 'He' has a manager who is the company's head of robotics and does all the autonomous work that people don't like doing. There are many different things that Codey can do but, in the HR space, that work will primarily be around payroll. “Before Codey, we had people looking at spreadsheets, making decisions based on criteria that the
“In today’s world, we are working longer hours than our grandparents ever had to work and HR will need to watch that.” – Linda Ronnie, UCT GSB likely to make mistakes. The reality is that your HR practices are going to be different and a piece of HR technology is not going to transform your company into Google organisation has given them and preparing those spreadsheets so that the broader organisation can make a decision whether it is an increase, a bonus or a expansion plan.”
Ease of e-learning UCT Graduate School of Business professor Linda Ronnie says tech is a must for continuous education. “HR now has access to a range of innovative software and electronic tools. And if you want to attract new people into the workplace, you're going to have to use technology that is suitable for them. I don't know any young person today that looks at newspapers to look for job opportunities,” she says. As an example, Linda refers to MyGrow, an online training app developed by an MBA graduate, which develops, measures and tracks the emotional intelligence of employees through video-based learning, neuroscience techniques, personalised coaching and rich data. Although it has not been around for very long, the company has already been used in companies like Old Mutual, Distell and Google South Africa. That said, you really shouldn’t be lured by big name companies using a particular HR technology. If your main buying decision is based on the fact that Google uses a particular technology, you are
Mitigate burnout risk With technology increasing productivity in the workplaces globally, the prevalence of burnout has increased significantly as people struggle to separate work from their personal lives. Linda believes that, as a result of this trend, part of HR’s role in the future world of work will be to mitigate burnout risk. “There has been a blurring of lines, which has been enabled by technology making it perfectly acceptable for you to be responding to an email at 9pm. In today’s world, we are working longer hours than our grandparents ever had to work and HR will need to watch that because it leads to a real lowering of productivity,” she says, adding that employees must have a work-life balance in order to be able to function properly during work hours. Says Linda: “HR's role is to ensure that those lines aren't blurred because they, more than anyone else in the organisation, should be on top of what the trends are worldwide and follow the lead of countries like Germany, for instance, where legislation has been introduced preventing bosses from sending emails to staff after working hours.”
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Wanted: self-confidence and sponsors (f) Women’s month kicked off with an inspirational women’s dinner for CHROs and CFOs, who had been invited to bring their mentees.
ore than a hundred female business leaders and mentees from the finance and HR professions came together on an evening all about empowering women in the workplace. On the first day of August, CHRO SA and brother company CFO SA jointly hosted an evening at the Radisson Blu hotel in Sandton where
women discussed the challenges they had faced as leaders and looked at ways to clear the path for more ambitious young women who want to achieve their goals. “It was amazing to be in a room full of resilient, bold, wise and inspiring women, who are trailblazers in their own right," said AEMFC CFO Ayanda Mafuleka afterwards. Ford Motor Company HR Director Pamela Xaba was
equally enthusiastic, saying: "Thank you CFO South Africa and CHRO South Africa for bringing together like-minded professionals to learn, share and leverage from each other and grow in their respective fields, without feeling the need to compete.” The conversation was led by Inge Walters, the founder of Eve Learning, a company that specialises in women's lead-
Luyanda Ngosi (Bowmans)
Nopasika Lila (CEO Eskom Pension and Provident Fund)
ership development. She said that, while improvements had been made towards having more female representation at senior and executive levels of business, progress had been insufficient.
Real gender equity "In Africa, five percent of CEOs are women, 29 percent of senior managers are women and 36 percent of promotions go to women. It is slightly better than where we were 10 years ago but if we want
Tumelo Seaketso (Deloitte) and Cebile Xulu (MondelÄ“z)
to see real gender equity, that rate of change is simply not good enough," said Inge. The evening, which was sponsored by Workday, PwC and Transparent, saw female leaders and their mentees networking and having frank conversations about what it takes to become successful in a world still dominated by men. Among the views shared by attendees was that women often have the same
ambition as men do but lack the confidence to go out and achieve those ambitions. This is what sometimes causes women to accept being overlooked for promotions or even shy away from putting their own names forward. In the panel discussion, award-winning AngloGold Ashanti CFO Christine Ramon and Barloworldâ€™s exec for Human Capital, Audit and Corporate Affairs Tantaswa Fubu shared
(Left to right): Christine Ramon (CFO AngloGold Ashanti), Graham Fehrsen (CFO SA), Inge Walters (Eve Learning Academy) & Tantaswa Fubu (Barloworld)
personal stories about their career journeys. The theme of self-confidence was a recurring one.
have a responsibility to those that come after us to open doors for them."
Tantaswa talked about how she opted out of putting her name in the hat to be considered for a different executive role because she felt that she didn't have support from the board. However, it was only after someone on the board had asked her who she had consulted to arrive at that conclusion that she realised it was unwarranted. “It dawned on me that I had decided on my own that I did not have the support without checking in specifically with other women and the women on the board.”
Tantaswa also said that a large part of empowering women was about connecting them with people who believe in them. All women were in agreement that they needed to have someone in their corner who could encourage them in moments of self-doubt and fight for them when they are facing challenges too big to tackle on their own. It is important to find sponsors. These are people who are willing to make a concerted effort to help open the doors for someone they believe has potential.
Women don’t do enough for women
Tantaswa shared a story about how she had a sponsor who went from being her boss to her subordinate. He had seen something in her and encouraged her so much that even when he eventually had to report to her, he still supported her. “This is the difference between sponsorship and mentorship. It is when someone has skin in the game. It’s almost like mentorship on steroids," said Inge.
Christine concurred, saying that affirmation was so important in order for people to advance because one needs to believe in one's self to achieve their goals. "I don't think enough women do enough for others. In my career, the people who have been my sponsors and mentors have mostly been males. We
Cyril took a chance “You can mask certain things in your professional life, but I believe that our values make us who we are, wherever we are,” said Christine Ramon, who won no less than four CFO Awards for her work at AngloGold Ashanti this year. She spoke about her professional growth, and how when she was at Johnnic, she felt ready for the CFO role and put herself forward, but didn’t get the response she wanted right away. Two years later, she was offered the position when she was pregnant. “Cyril Ramaphosa was the chairman of the company, and he took a chance on me. I didn’t have the track record, but I was given the opportunity. When I wanted it, I didn’t get it, when I got it, I popped out a baby. But I took the opportunity. And once you get onto the CFO level at a listed company, you are on the radar.”
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Challenging the status quo Tough calls and change have always been par for the course for Media24â€™s Shelagh Goodwin, who talks about courage, creativity and changing a broken system. BY JOĂ‹L ROERIG
rmed with an Afrikaans-English dictionary and a questioning attitude that rattled a few in the corridors of Nasionale Pers, the recently graduated Shelagh Goodwin joined the very same company where – 25 years later – she is head of HR for Media24.
Challenging the status quo and driving change and transformation soon became a common thread in Shelagh’s career – and the reason for her success at what was then a conservative, white-owned media conglomerate. “I was studying for my industrial psychology honours at UCT in 1993, when Prof Rita Kellerman, a great early role model of a woman in business, came to our class and said Naspers was looking to hire,” recalls Shelagh. “I lived in a white English-speaking area in Cape Town and until then, Naspers had mainly recruited at the University of Stellenbosch. I had no clue about this world,” she admits, before adding with a smile: “But they published FairLady, so it had to be okay.” Shelagh’s appointment coincided with the beginning of the end of male hegemony in leadership positions and a shift towards diversity in the workplace. “I was in the right place at the right time. I joined at a time when change was starting,” says Shelagh. That didn’t happen automatically though.
Position yourself “Never let them know you can type, is what Prof Kellerman had told me,” Shelagh recalls. “Email wasn’t around then and I had taught myself to type. What the professor meant is that it matters how you show up as a woman. A lot of women find themselves in a subservient role at work, even now. You need to position yourself to be taken seriously.” Shelagh says she struggles to imagine ever leaving the media industry, as she believes that journalists do important work and she loves the creativity, stubbornness and passion that typifies them. It is
evident that these are the same characteristics that have made her successful in the – initially alien – world she joined in the nineties. “What I brought in was that I was not afraid to challenge people. The older generations were more accustomed to just doing what they were told. I was often the youngest in the room, but I was the one asking the difficult questions.” Every now and then, Shelagh becomes a writer and publisher herself, when she pens posts detailing her culinary exploits from around the world on her Waving Cat blog, named after a kitschy, feline statuette from Southeast Asia with a waving paw that draws good luck (or waves away bad luck) with a battery-operated paw. “I started the blog as a souvenir for myself, but I also enjoy giving travel tips and love to give recommendations.” In 2014, Shelagh and her husband took a sabbatical and travelled the world for three months, visiting Sydney, New Zealand, Shanghai, Seoul, Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco, with the fascinating mix of tradition and high tech in Japan standing out as a favourite. “I really love Southeast Asia. It is such a perfect combination of culture and fantastic food,” says Shelagh. Natural leaders tend to want to measure success and for Shelagh that even extended to her personal blogging exploits. “I used to check the visitor stats and became quite obsessive about them,” she admits. "I was forever checking: Where do the visits come from? Why are there not more people reading? It is the nature of creative work. You invest something of yourself in it. It is a vulnerable space.”
Courage and integrity That, once again, is also what makes the HR head feel so personally attached to the employees of Media24, publisher of major titles like News24, City Press and Daily Sun, but also a plethora of magazines and local newspapers. “I appreciate so much about the people here. Many of them are reporting on political issues. They are taking a physical risk and the people who write about crime stories are
“I am naturally nosy and curious.” through, merging Via Afrika with Nasou, which had been rooted in South Africa’s apartheid past as text book publishers for black and white schools respectively. “It was a weird change process, because both companies were doing very well. We put them together and then had two of everything (except HR) for another full year. Even two CEOs. We didn’t want to lose any skills. We even kept both names initially.” A year later the orders didn’t come and the plan to streamline the newly-merged company was accelerated. To the surprise of the management, Shelagh argued that a separate HR person – essentially her own job – was no longer needed. “I think that was considered brave and it obviously got me noticed,” she reflects. “I was asked to become the head of leadership development back at head office, which suited me because I am naturally nosy and curious.”
often known to gangsters, especially in smaller communities. Sometimes we even need to arrange for bodyguards.The courage and integrity with which our people do their jobs is an inspiration to me.” Tough calls and change have always been par for the course for Shelagh, who started her Naspers career in recruitment at head office and was then assigned to the restructuring of the Van Schaik bookshops. “That was a formative experience for me. I was only 24 or 25 years old and I learnt a lot about business through that process. I also did a master's degree with ‘resistance to change’ as my topic, which tied in with that project.” Her next job was even more intertwined with the changes that Naspers and the country were going
Before becoming Media24’s head of HR a decade ago, Shelagh also created and filled the role of talent manager, integrating the group’s approach to acquiring and developing talent. “My boredom threshold is about two years,” says Shelagh, who is leading an HR team of 50 who are responsible for 4,000 employees. “I might have been in this HR job for 10 years, but there has been so much change that it hasn’t felt like the same role at all.” HR technology has received a lot of attention in the last few years and Shelagh has overseen the creation of not one, but two, entirely new custom-built employee self-service platforms, with varying degrees of success. “It was actually quite funny,” she says. “We decided to build an online performance management system and put together a list of desired features. They built and it and everyone in HR, inside and outside our company, absolutely loved it. It did everything but brush your teeth. But… the staff hated it.”
Shelagh admits getting defensive when the current – then newly appointed – CEO decreed that the unpopular tool had to go, but she eventually took on the task to redesign the platform. “I sat down with one of our designers and we drew the screen that he – as a user of the tool himself – wanted to see on an A3. Together with BSG we built it and it is much more popular. It is easy to use, requires no training and the completion rate of performance reviews is really high.”
Changing a broken system Together with the performance management system, she also changed how job grading worked. “There had been a lot of noise about pay and job levels. People who did the same job would be on different grades and salaries. We started by exposing the unfairness – making everybody’s job grades visible to everybody else – to build support for changing a broken system. We defined roles, replaced the grading system and did external grading to ensure consistency. It was a bold step, but it took the noise out of the system entirely.” Although technology is important, transformation has always been central to anything Shelagh has been involved with at Media24. She says that encouraging more diversity is still a big part of her role, including identifying and attracting top black talent. “Media24 has come a long way in the past 25 years and has transformed from board level downward. It must be one of the few South African companies to be headed by a black woman chair, Professor Rachel Jafta, and a woman CEO, Esmaré Weideman. Their support and commitment to building a diverse, winning team have been key to our success.”
Shelagh’s top priorities for 2018: 1. Build out Media24’s elevator pitch and sharpen the employee value proposition. 2. Completely change the way that data and analytics is used. 3. Do less, both individually and as an HR team.
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A tree is known by its fruit Like Sappi itself, the story of its HR group head Fergus Marupen is one of deep roots, local seedlings and a steady progression to international success.
BY KATE FERREIRA
orn and bred in Eersterust, Sappi group head human resources Fergus Marupen is a self-described “Pretoria boytjie”. After school, Fergus headed to the University of the Western Cape where he gained his BA (Hons) and a Higher Diploma in Education. “In those days,” he says, “the easiest way to get into university was to study teaching.” But after a few years in teaching, a new opportunity presented itself that would shape his career: Fergus joined Iscor Mining (later Kumba Resources) as a graduate in training, working his way up the ladder over the years to general manager. When Kumba Resources unbundled, Fergus took the path less travelled. “As the management team, we had two choices, and I chose Kumba Iron Ore. It was a new company with the opportunity to assemble a fresh management team and establish our own structures. I’ve always been proud of the fantas-
tic work we did there.” With that process and all its learnings under his belt, Fergus looked to the next challenge and joined BHP Biliton (Energy Coal). “I had spent my whole life in essentially one company. I decided I needed to check if I can be successful out of the known environment,” he says. And from there, Barclays Absa working directly with Maria Ramos, and later Business Unity South Africa. What was emerging for Fergus was a career built on bold choices and applying his professional learnings to new environments, new industries. When the Sappi opportunity opened up in 2015, he saw a chance to join a company with not only a large footprint in South Africa, but to participate on a global level sitting on the boards for North America and Europe. Sappi may be known for paper, but the group is a diversified woodfibre business with over 12,000 employees spread across 20 countries. “Sometimes I pinch myself and ask: Am I really here? Having come from such humble beginnings in the township where I grew up to being part of a global team working across three continents.”
“Sometimes I pinch myself and ask: Am I really here?” New industries, old challenges In his role, Fergus explains, he has the opportunity to bring all of his varied experience to bear on his tasks and he likes that he’s developed transferable skills. But also, he says, the ‘people challenges’ seem to be consistent irrespective of industry. “If you go to a mining company, there's a talent challenge. If you go to banking, there's a talent challenge. It's the same in manufacturing. We all face similar challenges in finding and retaining the right people, creating a talent pipeline, and managing the gaps that retirement of key people creates.” At Sappi, he has taken a multipronged approach to this. “One tactic is to ‘grow your own paper’, if you’ll forgive a forestry analogy,” he says. “We invest a lot into upskilling our existing staff, and in finding the right graduates to bring into the organisation through strategic alliances with universities and education institutions.” Additionally, Fergus believes in giving people good reasons to stay, and chances to develop themselves. “This creates loyalty,” he says. To this end, Sappi has digitised all their learning materials, so that staff can access what they need when they need it in their personal career development journeys. Under his leadership, Sappi has also looked more closely at retirement as a workplace issue. Now in its 80th year of operation, Sappi has many staff mem-
bers with long tenure in the company. Given this, they’ve gone through a mapping process – identifying all potential retirees from a certain level up, and assessing the succession plans they have in place. As group head, Fergus also works at a board level, has regular interaction with the chairman of the remuneration committee, and a strong relationship with the CEO Steve Binnie.
Cultivating the future It’s not just about graduates and executives though. Companies in the manufacturing industry are absorbing people at various skills levels – and the less skilled are the most vulnerable in a low employment country like South Africa. “We’re aligned to national imperatives like supporting youth employment and skills acquisition. We’ve started two technical training centres, one in KwaZulu-Natal, and one in Mpumalanga.” Here school-leavers can get training in one of three paths: ‘basic handyman’, ‘basic engineering training’, and ‘contracted apprentices’. First former provides nine weeks of training in either electrical, plumbing and construction, or painting and handyman. It is geared to the creation of micro-enterprises that offer the kinds of services needed in their surrounding communities. Basic engineering on the other hand is a six-month course designed to produce trainee mechanical
Fergus Marupen Group Head HR Sappi
Work: Group Head of Human Resources at SAPPI, which he joined Sappi in March 2015. Prior to Sappi, held various positions at Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) where eventually took the position of acting Chief Operating Officer. Was also the Group Executive of Human Resources for Absa and has held management positions at Kumba Resources and Kumba Iron Ore, where he worked his way up from being a graduate in training to general management level, and at BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa, where he was the Vice President of HR. Education: Executive Programme on Leading Change and Organizational Renewal (Stanford University)
fitters, electricians, and instrument mechanics. Contracted apprentices are then drawn from this group, and brought into the Sappi fold. “It’s amazing how many good people we’ve found through this, and how they want to be with the company. Sappi can't provide jobs for everyone, but we want people to develop their skills. We’ve seen how lives can be transformed through even small interventions like this,” says Fergus.
Education challenges The training centres have many good stories to tell, but they have also highlighted a worry for Fergus – one that is any human resources person’s future challenge. “What is worrying for us is the quality of matriculants coming out of schools. We have been flooded with applications for the training, but too many learners are failing the basic numeracy and literacy assessments they must take. We are missing a trick in this country by not addressing our education issues. As corporates we must invest in skills and participate in education initiatives with government and private companies. We all ultimately benefit from having a skilled workforce.” In his personal capacity, Fergus volunteers with Partners for Possibility – an organisation that partners school principals and business leaders with a view to enabling collaboration and ‘co-action’, giving principals the opportunity to become ‘change leaders in their schools’ as an innovative potential solution to the nation’s education crisis.
Despite decades away from teaching, education is clearly still a passion of Fergus’s. In addition to his education qualification, Fergus has a BA Honours in Psychology and Master of Business Administration (MBA), and several other qualifications. At Sappi, he’s overseen the implementation of new learning systems too. “I want people to take ownership of their own training, to drive that for themselves,” he says.
Beyond compliance Sappi recently completely an employee engagement survey, and is developing their next human resources plans and programmes based on the rich feedback this survey provided. It’s an employee-centric move in an industry that can occasionally get bogged down with regulation and box-ticking. The two ‘hats’ – people administration and holistic people development – are not at odds for Fergus. “We need to be asking ourselves how we drive all components of the HR business, from making sure we have the right people in place, to making sure policies are implemented, and our union interactions are properly conducted.” “This is an important role that HR has to play, in helping business to craft these strategies to make sure that we don't just comply for the sake of complying, but we truly transform, and create an environment where employees can thrive.”
Tough talks: the dark arts of HR Two HR leaders and a lawyer discuss their approach to mass retrenchments and dealing with underperforming or ill-disciplined senior managers and executives. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
“One should seek to establish the whole picture and avoid being perceived to be on some kind of witch hunt.” – Tshephisho Tabane, Clientele Life
R leaders have a lot on their plate when it comes to navigating the transition towards a new world of work. However, while technology will have an impact on many aspects of the HR function, some things will never change. And one of those things is the art of having tough conversations. Many top HR leaders will describe overseeing mass retrenchments and large restructuring programmes as being among the most difficult periods of their careers. And that is understandable as it cannot be easy to have to be executing strategy that sees a significant number of people lose their livelihoods. It’s an art – and often a dark one – to be able to look people in the eye and tell them that they will need to find employment elsewhere.
While many tough conversations tend to happen with the lowest-earning employees, HR leaders sometimes have to toughen up to face their own management colleagues. When a senior manager or executive is not performing, or being accused of sexual harassment, it is the responsibility of the HR leader to deal with the matter or at least take some action. How should some of these difficult moments be approached and how can you as HR leader be better prepared when it is your turn to have some difficult conversations? “The economy is tough and that has been reflected in some of our recent cases where companies have had to restructure and retrench significant portions of their labour forces. This has been the case since the global financial crisis of 2008 and is particularly prevalent in certain industries, such as manufacturing and min-
ing,"’ says Bowman’s partner Helen Wilsenach.
Handle it as a project According to Helen, there is a right way and a wrong way of dealing with large-scale retrenchments. “Companies that have done it well have handled it as a project management piece,” she explains. “They haven't taken a simplistic approach of looking at what the law says they are permitted to do and enacting retrenchment processes strictly in accordance with that.” Helen says that, while it is important to tick all the boxes from a legal point of view, the people are the most important part of the process and you have to make sure you deal with them in the correct way. You also have to be aware that the people you want to retain from a skills perspective are often the most mobile and will likely be the first to leave if the process drags on for too long.
“When you have someone who's old enough to be your father crying in your arms because they don't know how they are going to support their family, it changes something in you.” – Malisha Awunor, BHBW
“The law says that if an employee raises a question in writing, you need to respond to them in writing, so it's about having a consistent approach and having a strong communications team with a strong industrial relations background,” says Helen. “This is something that can’t be handled by the legal team alone. In fact, when it comes to mass retrenchment processes as a whole, it is HR that has to take the lead, supported by legal.”
Be present and available With over 20 years’ in human resources, Malisha Awunor, Head of HR at BHBW, has had extensive experience in the management of retrenchments, particularly in the mining industry. For a period of five years, she has had to run with successive retrenchment programmes across different companies. Each of these processes was concluded
in a respectful manner with minimal labour disputes and no industrial action. This is largely due to the fact that while is was at the helm she always follows the letter of the law when executing a section 189 retrenchment process, she says. “The retrenchments are a part of my career that I would never want to repeat. When you have someone who's old enough to be your father crying in your arms because they don't know how they are going to support their family, it changes something in you,” Malisha says. “You have to be fair, consistent and demonstrate a commitment to involving the people that are going to be affected, rather than just trying to tick a box around consultation,” she says. “Be transparent, present a sound business case and give people time to review and respond.
Each response is worthy of review and feedback. Be present and available for any questions and communication. That is the most critical thing.” Malisha says companies often get it wrong because, in addition to waiting too long before consulting with employees, the approach taken is premeditated and calculated. When the approach is impersonal and numbers-driven, the lack of empathy drives resentment, resistance and distrust and these have a direct impact on the overall process.
Being tough with seniors When you have someone who is in senior management or even at the executive level who is not performing, Malisha says HR leaders have to be courageous. This is because there is a tendency to sweep issues under the rug because most human beings inherently do not like conflict.
“When it comes to mass retrenchment processes as a whole, it is HR that has to take the lead, supported by legal.” – Helen Wilsenach, Bowmans
Unfortunately, that only makes things worse because ill-discipline and poor performance are like festering wounds.
would like to be treated. Whether it's a disciplinary issue or a matter around underperformance, you need to treat them fairly and with respect.
“Substandard performance may also be prevalent in senior and executive levels. Courage plays a critical role in the management of difficult conversations,” says Malisha, who believes that, instead of having the difficult conversations, people in general tend to avoid the management of poor performance. “The way I have always approached it is to guide my line managers to have the initial conversation and discuss with the person concerned: ‘something is not working, how can we tackle the issue together?'”
Line managers and CEOs
Clientele Life HR Director Tshephisho Tabane agrees, saying the key thing to remember is to have empathy because you have to respect people and treat your colleagues the same way that you
But dealing with non-performing senior employees is not solely within the ambit of HR. Malisha believes it should be handled by the respective line managers and, where it concerns senior executives, the CEO.
“Linked to that is doing the right thing, which means following the rules and regulations as stipulated in the policies of the organisation,” she says. “Difficult conversations are sometimes even more challenging when the facts are murky and, in those situations, one should seek to establish the whole picture and avoid being perceived to be on some kind of witch hunt.”
"There is a tendency of thinking that it is HR's responsibility to deal with substandard performance and I fight that every day. It's so deeply ingrained in organisations that, as soon as there is any problem with an employee, you have to call HR. My view is that, as a fraternity, we have not coached and mentored our executives around having those conversations," says Malisha. “The absence of having those difficult conversations in a constructive manner leads to a culture of entitlement and substandard performance. Worse still, it sets the wrong tone from a management perspective. When you engage with the executive and explain how the situation around their colleague's behaviour or substandard work is affecting profitability and leadership credibility, there will undoubtedly be a greater buy-in into the process," says Malisha.
Setting the standard SABPP interim CEO Xolani Mawande explains what the organisation has been doing to improve the quality of HR in South Africa.
BY XOLANI MAWANDE
here are many things that have gone wrong within the HR profession and we believe it’s a case of simply not having had the right checks and balances in place. For example, the scourge of fraudulent qualifications in recent years is a failure of HR, which is supposed to be the gatekeeper within any organisation to prevent such occurrences. The South African Board of People Practices (SABPP) is a professional body for HR practitioners at all levels. We register HR managers, HR officers, executives, HR academics and anyone else throughout all ranks of the profession providing they have requisite qualifications and experience. In this way, the SABPP is comparable to bodies like the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), which is the professional body for accountants. It is also a quality assurance body and can be described as an HR SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) that is comparable to the INSETA, which is a SETA for the insurance industry.
So our role is twofold. Firstly, it is to be partners to HR practitioners along the journeys of their careers. Secondly, it is to ensure that the training for HR students is at the right levels so that we have better-equipped professionals in the future. In this instance, we do both SETA level (NQF level 4, 5, and 6) training and accreditation of tertiary academic programmes.
Setting standards Also central to the role of the SABPP is the setting and monitoring of HR standards. HR professionals found that their ability to properly execute our mandate was limited by the lack of proper HR standards. There were no minimum standards upon which they could evaluate an HR function at an organisational level. We found that one cannot ascertain whether a company's HR division is excellent or poor when there is no basis upon which to compare. So, after an intensive period of consultation and collaboration, we came up with the national HRM System Model and Standard, which was
“It should not be the case, as it is in many organisations, that employees who fail in other roles can simply be deployed to HR as if it is the simplest and among the least significant within a business.” launched in August 2013, and was the first of its kind in the world. We also audit various companies’ HR functions based on those standards and, after three years, we audit them again to assess the kind of progress that has been made. It's something that they can use for the development of their own HR practices. It's a 360-degree evaluation of all the HR capabilities.
The model, which contains 13 standard elements grouped by the classic quality assurance model of planning, implementing, reviewing and Improving, was initially based on the question of whether HR should become a statutory profession. At the moment, it doesn't seem to be taken as seriously as it should. It should not be the case, as it is in many organisations, that employees who fail in other roles can simply be deployed to HR as if it is the simplest and among the least significant within a business. That may have been the case 20 years ago, when HR was almost purely an administrative function but things have changed. In an age where technology has changed the way we think about work, HR has had to
become far more strategic in the way companies get the most out of their people.
Education is the main obstacle The biggest challenge facing HR at the moment is the lack of competent people, which is a result of the poor education system. Almost every problem stems from the lack of talent. Transformation, for instance, is limited because there aren't enough black candidates for many of the senior roles in organisations and that leads to companies appointing people that aren't competent. Other companies fail to transform completely and blame it on the poor education system even though there are people who can do the job.
Students are being taught mathematics by teachers who themselves struggle with the subject and that leads to more problems down the road. While we do appreciate the work that organisations like the Partners For Possibility are doing in this space, it is simply not enough because, as things improve, the world of work continues to evolve even more rapidly. Technology is changing the types of skills that are needed for organisations to remain competitive in the age of disruption. We have to improve our education so drastically that we have to think beyond what our immediate skills requirements are and that is almost an impossible task for a country like ours with such high rates of unemployment. ď‚Ł
People at the centre Capitec Bank HR exec Nathan Motjuwadi feels fortunate to have worked in companies where the HR boss operates at board level.
BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
As the top HR leader in an organisation, it is absolutely crucial that you are involved in decision-making at board level and not in the background where you only get called in when there are operational issues or threats of industrial action," says Capitec’s CHRO Nathan Motjuwadi. “HR plays a central role in business success, but the extent to which HR can make an impact in that regard is determined by the CEO,” says Nathan, who attests that he has been fortunate to work in companies where people are at the centre of everything they do. "In fact, I would much rather prefer it if we moved away from calling it HR to something along the lines of 'people centre' because HR only represents the functional and technical aspects of what we do.” Nathan worked at Coca-Cola, where the global CHRO was part of the main board and didn't report
to anyone other than the group CEO. When he was at Danone, it was the same. Now that he’s at Capitec, he’s found a company with a similar model in terms of the way it approaches people as being critical to success and a core business focus.
Take people into your confidence To make his point, Nathan refers to a business case he recently read where the CEO had a philosophy of not retrenching and stuck to it despite a difficult financial period in which the company had lost one of their biggest accounts. The CEO was told by the board that he had to reduce his operating expenses and, more often than not, that meant people had to be retrenched. But he refused to do that. Instead, he called all his employees and explained the situation to them, saying that the company would go out of business unless it cut costs. He proposed that the company reduce op-ex by increasing the amount of leave that employees take and, because employees don't get paid for going
“The work of the HR leader should be adding to the bottom line.” Nathan Motjuwadi Executive: Human Resources Capitec Bank
Work: In charge of HR at Capitec Bank since August 2010. Began his career as teacher and training manager, before joining Coca-Cola as performance consultant in 1999, eventually being appointed group HR manager in 2005. Worked at Danone Southern Africa as HR Director in 2009 and 2010. Education: Went to UCT and is a bachelor of Social Science, History and Political Science.
on leave in the US, that reduced costs significantly. When it came to implementation, there were some people that didn't have leave days left and employees began transferring their days to their colleagues.
Don't get bogged down Regarding his views on what the most pressing challenge facing the profession is, Nathan prefers not to single any single topic out. He strongly believes that, as an HR leader, it is important to have one's pulse on all the HR challenges and make decisions that will have a positive impact for the future of the business at a strategic level. He refers to the term VUCA, which is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – all of the things that define the times in which we are living. That makes it difficult to know how to approach a challenging situation and easy to use VUCA as an excuse to not focus on strategy and planning, because, in essence, it is practically impossible to be completely prepared for the VUCA world. Says Nathan: “Issues that have to be tackled by HR are diversity, digitisation and transformation, which is specific to the South African context. However, at the top, the work of the HR leader should be adding to the bottom line. Do I understand what is driv-
ing the bottom line of the organisation? Is diversity important? Absolutely. Do injustices of the past have to be addressed? Absolutely. Is artificial intelligence going to change the way we work in call centres? One hundred percent. Do we need to start thinking about having bots that can respond to questions from our staff? Of course."
A meaningful contribution But Nathan believes all those things have to fit in with the overall purpose and objective of the business, which is to make a meaningful contribution to society while creating value for shareholders. That's what has to be top of mind for top HR leaders, irrespective of what people issue they are dealing with. Because, ultimately, there will be other people in the organisations whose responsibility it is to tackle the nitty-gritties of what should be implemented at a strategic level. “I sit on a variety of committees that tackle issues affecting the future of the organisation. I sit on the digitisation, business transformation, executive, and credit committees. I also visit a lot of our branches and talk to our staff to get a sense of the feeling in the organisation. But I do that as a conduit for the executive team and as a representative of the business’s interests,” says Nathan.
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Take a chance on people One year into his new role, Alexander Forbes’ CHRO Christian Schaub shares his thoughts on his move from the US to South Africa and a more daring approach to talent management. BY SUNGULA NKABINDE
R leaders should change their mentality when assessing whether a particular person is ready for a role and take more chances on people, allowing them to do jobs that they may have no experience in but are ready to learn more about. That is according to Alexander Forbes South Africa CHRO Christian Schaub. “The CEO and our board took a chance on me and it hasn't blown up yet, so let's cross fingers that things continue going well.” says Christian. “It's all about challenging our own preconceptions and our definition of what the talent requirements for specific jobs are," he says.
Christian says the issue of competing with other organisations for a limited talent pool is one that is familiar as it has existed in every company that he has worked in, whether it was in the UK, Brazil or China. While South
“It's all about challenging our own preconceptions and our definition of what the talent requirements for specific jobs are." 74
Africa is not like the US, where there are few people who are not engaged in some form of employment, the problem of scarce talent will always exist by virtue of the need to find the perfect combination of people who you want to be in your organisation and can do the job, he says. The best way to deal with that is for companies to think differently in the way they approach succession planning and talent development as a whole, he says. Because, if organisations only want to hire people or promote people who have done the job already, they will always be looking at a limited pool, particularly in the financial services industry, which is small and highly specialised. “It's all about challenging our own preconceptions and our definition of what the talent requirements for specific jobs are."
Christian Schaub Group CHRO Alexander Forbes Work: Joined Alexander Forbes in September 2017. Worked for Deutsche Lufthansa at Philadelphia Airport during his studies and joined global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman in 2005, moving into a role of talent manager, also co-founding and leading a group representing LGBT colleagues. Moved to Marsh in 2011, where he was Global Change Leader for the three years prior to his move to South Africa. Education: BA Economic and International Studies from Yale University in the United States.
“Another thing to think about is how we make ourselves attractive to as many people as possible. At Alexander Forbes, that comes down to being very clear about our people promise. That is, what does it mean to work at Alexander Forbes and why should people want to work here. We need to define our culture so that we attract people that will thrive here, will want to work with us and are committed to ensuring the financial well-being of our customers”
Working at Marsh & McLennan Christian has worked in specialist roles in recruitment, talent management and organisational effectiveness, before he worked as the chief of staff for the CHRO at Marsh & McLennan Companies, which is a global company with 60,000 employees. In 2011, the company acquired part of Alexander Forbes and that was when he first started coming to South Africa.
He then spent a few years working as a change management specialist, where he oversaw the organisation of high-performing HR functions. About a year ago, he met Alexander Forbes’ chief executive Andrew Darfoor, who asked him to consider joining the company. “I’ve been working on the company’s Ambition 2022 business strategy, which involves defining our culture and finding out how we can be more deliberate in the way we reinforce it,” Christian
says, talking warmly about his work. “The strategy also looks at the way we are developing talent both today and for the future and how are we rewarding performance and how we ensure that we are built in a way that ensures agility and collaboration. Those are the main areas that I'm currently focused on, in addition to improving the change management muscle of the company and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our HR function.” Christian calls working for a smaller company than Marsh & McLennan refreshing. “With the company having a little over 3,000 employees, it's not so big that there should be any major obstacles to us achieving our objectives quickly. That's very different from Marsh & McLennan, which is about 20 times bigger in terms of global headcount and involves a tremendous amount of complexity when introducing major changes in the organisation. The amount of time that is spent devising a solution, thinking about how it's implemented and then actually executing it, would generally take a couple of
years. Here at Alexander Forbes, we move much faster.
Adjusting to South Africa Although he is American, Christian has worked in Europe, Latin America and Asia, and doesn’t tend to approach things with an American set of values. He says he has really enjoyed his time here thus far and is still adjusting to the working culture. In the US, for example, Christian says there is certainly a sense of urgency around everything they do and how they do it. When someone asks for something, it means that they expect an immediate response. In South Africa, people are a lot friendlier and open to discussion, which means that there is more cohesion and a collaborative spirit in the way things get done. “I have a lot to learn about this country. I think South Africa has a very rich history and is incredibly diverse but it also comes with a number of challenges that resulted from the legacy of apartheid and are far from being overcome. Issues of economic
empowerment and socio-economic justice have not been addressed by society and that has an impact on what the role of corporates is in helping with these things.” “But I definitely don't have a South African set of knowledge and values either and that's why I'm fortunate to be working with a team that looks like the society we operate in, who are born and bred here and whom I can bounce ideas off to get diverse perspectives if and when I need them.” While the company is headquartered in South Africa, Alexander Forbes is a financial services company that looks across Africa. It’s a pan-African business and Christian believes that it should strive to bring in best practices around investments, management and organisational structures from elsewhere in the world without necessarily diluting the essence of what it means to be Alexander Forbes with decades of history in South Africa.
Travelling The most important thing I got from travelling and working on different continents is being open to learning. Travelling makes you humble and that’s exactly why you’re more open to learning, which in turn increases your curiosity. Working and living in South Africa as a Dutch woman has made me a better person in a lot of ways. Performing well at your job is one of the most stressful things nowadays so we need to be mindful of what makes us feel and do better. Travelling makes you more aware of your surroundings, makes you sharper and makes you more relaxed. CHRO South Africa provides a peer-to-peer learning platform which is valuable to the HR execs, because – just like travelling – it gets you out of your office bubble and facilitates networking with old and new friends. CHRO SA is only where it is today because of all its strong relationships. These relationships are only possible when the members of the community members are open to trusting complete strangers. I find this socialising and networking to be one the most enjoyable aspects of my role. One event exemplified the power of this social part very clearly: the CHRO SA dinner hosted at Marble restaurant in May this year with top HR executives. During the dinner, 10 people from five different countries were enjoying exceptional cuisine after a very successful CHRO SA summit where we spoke about AI and robotics. AAround the dining table, the discussion diverted to a very informal conversation about countries, language problems, Uber ratings and travel stories. For me, this was a heartwarming experience to be a part of, because it reflected exactly why I think CHRO SA is such a powerful platform to not only learn but also network and socialise.
MAUD MEIJVIS CHRO SA COMMUNITY MANAGER MMEIJVIS@CHRO.CO.ZA +27 64 758 2870
The preferred community for SA’s HR executives 12 February 2019
CFO and CHRO SA Summit 1 - Johannesburg
28 February 2019
CHRO SA Dinner - Johannesburg
14 - 15 March 2019
CHRO SA Journey - Johannesburg
11 April 2019
CHRO SA Dinner - Johannesburg
30 May 2019
CHRO SA Dinner - Johannesburg
11 July 2019
CHRO Day- Johannesburg
1 August 2019
CFO and CHRO SA Women’s Event- Johannesburg
16 - 17 October 2019
HR Indaba Africa - Sandton Convention Centre
19 November 2019
CHRO SA Dinner - Johannesburg
28 November 2019
CHRO Year End - Johannesburg
79 Learn, network & build your career
CHRO.co.za | Maud Meijvis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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