How did you get into HR?
I studied economics at the University of Stellenbosch and was determined to become an economist. However, in my third year, I had to do an assignment on career psychology and I found it extremely interesting. With industrial psychology as a major, I decided to continue my postgraduate studies in this field. Following graduation, I started as a graduate trainee on a power generation plant more than 600 miles from my home.
What do you enjoy most about HR?
I am very passionate about my profession. HR is complex. It involves changing, identifying, optimising and leveraging talent to achieve strategic imperatives. This requires thinking outside of the box and coming up with new ways of doing things. You can never really plan your day and there is no textbook for dealing with all of the possible scenarios and outcomes.
I especially value people and diversity. HR is about ensuring that different ways of thinking and approaches to everyday business challenges are harnessed. It is also great to see how people develop in their careers and being part of their journey.
I have been fortunate that I have always worked in organisations where HR wears a commercial hat and is involved in business solutions.
Employee engagement is key in most, if not all, company objectives. I always see the people as brand ambassadors and enjoy developing organisational development programmes that help create a motivated, capable and enthused workforce.
What do you find most difficult about working in HR?
You have to be resilient and have the courage to push back and challenge. Fortunately, that is one of my key strengths.
Working with people, you have to accept that you often have to deal with those that are pessimistic, difficult and obstinate, and you need to influence and motivate them to be part of the solution, not the problem.
At times, organisations can be so focused on achieving results that they forget that you have to take the people along and that can take time, effort and energy. An employment relationship remains a relationship.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
Be honest, be sincere and be ethical. Irrespective of the task at hand, or the degree of difficulty, you have to base your decisions on sound principles, not on feelings and emotions.
Simplicity is also vital. Although HR solutions should be well thought through, you will achieve more by focusing on the basics and turning the most complex solution into a simple one.
What is your greatest career achievement?
This is a difficult one. I value every role I have had and I have worked with many inspiring people who have supported my career development. I am grateful for the opportunities life has given me.
I like to celebrate successes continuously. In a complex business environment a successful negotiation, a challenging project, a saved life, a retained customer can all contribute to achievement.
What was your biggest career challenge?
Managing change in itself can be challenging. From a global HR perspective: managing risk, understanding different geographies, being sensitive to different cultures and balancing business needs with workload demands are all daily challenges.
What’s the next big thing in HR?
The talent agenda is still evolving and I believe that we have to follow a more consultative, simplistic and integrated approach to embed core and critical processes. Talent analytics are key to informed business decisions.
Who do you most look up to in the industry?
There are many people who on a day-to-day basis make a difference in their businesses, adopting best practice, pushing for the implementation of professional standards, embracing change, driving talent agendas, challenging behaviours, partnering with line managers. In G4S, we employ more than 200 HR professionals across Africa. They all make me proud.
If you did not work in HR, what would you be doing instead?
I would be in general management or running a wine farm.