Inspiring women’s secrets of success


As Women’s Month draws to an end, we talked to top women HR executives about their journey to the top.

CHRO South Africa asked a few female HR executives what drives them to break barriers and carve out a path to success, as well as what advice they would give to the younger generation still climbing the corporate ladder. Here’s what they had to say.

Julia Modise, group human resources director for BMW Group South Africa

My children are the biggest inspiration, because I see myself in them. The good and the bad. I wake up every day to make a difference. The difference can be in a policy change, benefit change, training, coaching, mentoring – whatever it is, I get to make a change in the industry. Each day in the industry is hardly the same or boring.

My advice for young women is to go for it. Grab the opportunities that become available and there’s no such thing that a person is 100 percent ready for a job. What matters is potential and attitude. I can teach and transfer skills and build confidence, but I cannot build or transform attitude. We hire for attitude and train for skills.

Also, be a sponge, absorb as much as you can, and build a network in your chosen career. It’s important. Do not underestimate the importance of mentorship.

Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi, HR director at Hyundai Automotive SA

My passion lies in the privilege I’ve had of developing and raising other leaders through mentoring and coaching, and giving opportunities for growth. This fulfils my purpose in life to leave a legacy that will be remembered.

To have a successful career like mine I would advise young talent to embrace a growth mindset and be curious enough to cross the boundaries that are limiting their career progress. Success belongs to those who dare to be bold, different and challenge the status quo. I cannot emphasise enough being unique in establishing your professional brand. They need to be clear on what they are standing for.

The world is not forgiving to the people sitting on the fence. Whatever you do, never be forgotten, do your best and give it your all.

While sharpening their technical and leadership skills, it is important that they learn very early in their career to master the art of building long lasting strategic relationships that touch the hearts and minds of people.

Failures and disappointments are inevitable along the journey. They should embrace those moments and use them to reshape their goals to become better versions of themselves. In a journey of success, never surrender to any mishaps, stand up and rise to the top as soon as possible, because the bottom is overcrowded.

Insaaf Daniels, human capital director and board director for the redPanda Group

I am inspired every day that I get to do what women before me did not have the opportunity to do, knowing that there are women in environments in which they cannot achieve their goals. Remembering this and being thankful for those that paved our paths is what makes me grateful to wake up every morning.

For those aspiring to pursue a similar career path, my advice is to gain clarity on your goals, then find someone/people who have already achieved the success you want and become a part of their circle. Success leaves clues and I am yet to meet a successful person who does not want to share their strategies.

Get them as a mentor, join their programmes, watch their YouTube videos – but most importantly, you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that it is possible for you, even if there is no example in your family or your friends achieving goals on that level.

Take action, no matter how scared you are. It's in those moments that your life will change, and you will make history in your family.

Wiedaad Shaik, chief talent architect at SAPRO

I find my inspiration from the people closest to me – my family, specifically my young daughters and achieving the goals I set for myself. I am a curious thinker, problem solver and conceptualiser, so my current role provides a great platform to make a positive impact using these skills.

With regards to advice, I say don’t discount opportunities outside of what you know and are familiar with. Leverage that experience and explore your interests while you continue to grow and learn in the process.

Phylla Jele, HR and transformation executive, e4

I get my inspiration from humans – also ensuring there is fairness for employees and that the business has sound practices. When that is in line, my soul is at peace.

Advice to the younger HR leaders? Human capital is fulfilling if you can strike a balance between being a custodian of policies and advocate of employees. If you want to make people realise their potential and help a business hire high performance individuals, then this is the career for you.

If you are a people solutions architect who is passionate about problem-solving on people issues, then you can definitely make a career out of HR.

One famous CEO in my life once said, “Ah, so you cannot be judge, jury and executioner,” when I was motivated to partner with a labour organisation to assist with the heavy industrial relations issues we had at the time.

We facilitate employee/employer processes within business to hire, discipline, performance manage, remunerate, etc. We do not hire and fire, and one gets to understand this more succinctly once within robust HR teams in great organisations.


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