An interview with the new HR Director

Posted on December 06, 2019

Where did you work prior to joining UP?

My experience in Human Resources spans over two decades, acquired largely in the private sector where I worked for multinational companies in the financial services, gases, management consulting and pharmaceuticals. The most recent roles were in a state-owned enterprise and a research council – in an executive management capacity. I have led human capital change, globalisation and transformation programmes. I also played a pivotal role in mergers and acquisitions, divesting from business interests and setting up HR departments in smaller local organisations.

What attracted you to UP?

Having worked extensively in knowledge organisations, I have always known that I have an affinity for knowledge work. Universities in the 21st century are a prime environment for HR change, innovation and transformation. UP is one of the leading universities on the continent and it offers a fantastic opportunity for one to contribute meaningfully to this journey.

What are some of the HR areas you would like to work on as a priority at UP?

HR is a dynamic environment that requires agile responsiveness from institutions that want to remain relevant in the current era.

  • The capacitation and capability of HR is a significant contributor to HR’s effectiveness, which is why I am prioritising the adequate capacitation of HR to address significant gaps that HR has had over a few years.
  •  The HR policy framework is a significant pillar of any HR environment, along with talent management strategies, which combined contribute significantly to the institution’s talent value proposition. This is another area of focus for UP.
  • The HR risk universe highlights a number of processes and procedures that require urgent attention to reduce the risk profile of the University, while ensuring effectiveness and efficiency of HR.
  • Elevating the strategic business partnership role of HR is imperative for the improved HR service to the institution. To this end the HR team is involved in engagements to unpack what is working in HR, what needs to improve and what needs to stop along with new initiatives to take HR to the HR of the future at UP.

What are your your personal likes and dislikes?

  • My work is a significant part of my livelihood and I derive a lot of satisfaction in carrying out my duties diligently and in full alignment with my personal value system. I like hard work that leads to results and ensuring that ethics are upheld in everything that I do.
  • I dislike dishonesty, disrespect, indecisiveness and myopic thinking.

Quick quiz: Sithembile's favourite:

Sport: From being an avid sports participant, I have cut down significantly but I still enjoy spinning and hiking as often as possible. Watching sports like cricket and golf remains good pastimes for me.

Food: I enjoy wholesome food, including winter warmers like oxtail, mogodu, steamed bread and samp. Growing up on the coast I am addicted to fresh seafood and I enjoy good sushi. Conscious of my love for food, I still have an insatiable sweet tooth, which I satisfy from time to time.

Travel destinations: I have a bucket list full of destinations I need to travel to soon. This includes West and East Africa (Ghana and Kenya in particular), Spain, Thailand, Croatia and Europe. Any place which is rich with culture, breathtaking views, blue water and hiking trails.

Movies: The Fast and the Furious, The Hangover and Sex and the City are by far my favourite movies.

Sitcom: The Big Bang Theory

Actors: Diane Keaton, Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba

Musician: David Forster is by far my favourite musician and all the artists he has produced music for.

All-time hero: My parents are my all-time heroes. They came from very humble backgrounds but made critical decisions to instill in their children the value of education, humility and hard work. They say you know you are older when you open your mouth and your mother comes out. I am certainly at that point with my children.

- Author Jimmy Masombuka

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