Credited with a long list of notable achievements, Prof Nasima Carrim is a role model in every respect: Apart from her newly appointed role as Exco member of the Society of Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA), Prof Carrim is part of a team of conveners for a future Gender, Work and Organisation (GDO) conference. She is also a member of the Gender, Diversity and Organisation (GDO) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM) since 2010. She has been a Global Ambassador in the GDO Division for the past five years. Prof Carrim is currently a mentor for international mentees for the Division, where she provides guidance to new members on how to compile high-impact articles. In addition, she has been a section editor for the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology for a number of years. Recently, Prof Carrim also co-edited the first diversity textbook in South Africa, titled Managing Diversity in the South African Workplace …the list goes on. Yet, it is in uplifting people in need, the underdogs, that she finds her greatest reward. Read more about her illustrious career, her sound advice to current students and her future goals.
Q: Briefly summarise your career since graduating from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: After graduating with a PhD in Industrial and Organisational Psychology in 2012, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in the Department of Human Resource Management at the University of Pretoria in 2013 and to Associate Professor in the same department in January 2018.
I was the recipient of the Emerald African Management Research Fund Award in 2014 for my study related to Indian male managers’ upward mobility in corporate South Africa. In 2014, I also received the Certificate of Merit for teaching excellence and innovation at the University of Pretoria for my undergraduate course in diversity management. In 2017, I received the 2016 Best Junior Researcher in Management Sciences in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria. I am also a Section Editor for the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology (SAJIP). In 2020 I, together with Dr Leon Moolman from North West University, edited the textbook Managing Diversity in the South African Workplace. I am also one of the convenors for the Gender, Work and Organisation conference which will be hosted by the University Of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in 2023 with Prof Anita Bosch (USB), Dr Faith Ngunjiri (Concordia College - USA) and Prof Ameeta Jaga (University of Cape Town). I am also a member of the Academy of Management (AOM) conference and a Global Ambassador for the Gender, Diversity and Organisation (GDO) stream.
Q: To what extent did your studies at EMS benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: Having gained practical knowledge during my master’s in Human Resource Management at the University of Pretoria and applying the knowledge in industry to solve real-life problems and issues in the workplace, provided me with the confidence to disseminate my practical knowledge during my classes to students as well. My studies also enabled me to become a well-rounded Industrial Psychologist and Human Resource Practitioner.
Q: Given your academic career at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: Work hard, follow your own instincts, your own head and heart. Take advice with a pinch of salt and ultimately do what makes you happy. Remember, at the end of the day, you only answer to yourself and you need to find that happiness within yourself. Learn to love yourself and be kind to yourself while ensuring that you always stretch yourself on a daily basis to reach your goals.
There will always be distractions in your career and your studies but keep the end-goal in mind. Ignore background noises and steer your life in the direction and the path that you want to follow. Sometimes the path will take detours, but as long as you have a clear goal in mind, you will reach it regardless of the turns and bends that you had to navigate along the way. There is no gain without pain. Also, remember to give of yourself in uplifting others, for in uplifting others, you uplift yourself.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful company/organisation?
A: A successful company is an inclusive organisation that harnesses the talents and skills of all employees; it embraces and respects people’s differences. It is an organisation where employees’ potential is recognised and they are encouraged to display and develop their skills without restrictions. It is a place where an employee feels ‘this is my home away from home’. It is a place where an employee’s heart sings with joy upon entering such an organisation because of the warm ambience that emanates from the culture of the organisation in welcoming and embracing each individual staff member who passes through the doors.
Q: Which publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?
A: I enjoy reading blogs, magazines and newspapers that provide an alternative view on what is seen in the mainstream media. I always want to know the perspective from the other side as well. It’s always good to know the perceptions of reality from diverse perspectives. Like my parents taught me: There is my side, there is your side and then there is the truth. In searching for the truth, we need to understand diverse perspectives on a topic, otherwise we become like sheep, mere blind followers.
Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?
A: Uplifting people in need and the underdog. Being creative in my work and being given the freedom to express myself and to take part in activities that I want to pursue and not being held back. Not being judged according to other people’s standards.
Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?
A: Dr Imtiaz Sooliman of Gift of the Givers (a humanitarian group). Considering that he assists people across the globe during disasters and helps the needy, I believe that he is doing a fantastic job helping underprivileged people.
I would like to learn from him how to get people across the globe to learn to love, respect, understand and accept each other regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, caste, creed, and so on. Just to love and embrace each other because each one of us is a tiny piece of the larger universe and humanity. If we can get this right, we will transform not only societies and organisations but the world at large.
Q: Going forward, what are your professional /personal goals?
A: I want to become a full professor and take up a management position.
Q: COVID-19 has turned the world upside down: in your opinion, how/to what extent is the pandemic likely to impact globalisation/major global events?
A: The pandemic will continue to have an impact. COVID-19 has already resulted in major changes in the world of work and has severely impacted businesses negatively. With the closing of borders, businesses closing down and manufacturing being severely restricted, all countries have been negatively affected, some more than others. The pandemic is also an opportunity where manufacturing can start flourishing within countries and people can start buying goods produced locally, thereby increasing employment and less reliance on waiting to purchase goods from other countries. Once the pandemic has been brought under control, trade across countries will definitely increase, albeit at a slow pace initially. It should increase thereafter.
Major global events have been restricted to a greater extent than trade restrictions, especially sport events. These should resume once the pandemic has ended. For now, nobody is sure how the pandemic will play out or when it will end. Severe restrictions have been placed on people from countries that have a high COVID-19 mortality rate travelling to other countries, so border restrictions are still in place. With these types of restrictions still in place, global events will be negatively impacted for an indefinite period, until there is certainty that it is safe to travel freely again.