Bobo Mngxali: leading transition with purpose


Bobo Mngxali, the head of people and culture at Roche Diagnostics, says it is crucial to be resilient and passionate about the job to be successful in a transition.

“HR is not simply a career, it is a calling which I revere with everything I have,” says Bobo Mngxali, head people and culture at Roche Diagnostics. Bobo explains that her resilience and passion for HR was tested in 2019 when she joined Roche Diagnostic.

She adds that this was at a time when the organisation was going through an internal transition. While she was excited about the transition, the test came when the Covid-19 pandemic hit shortly after she started at the company.

“Two days before the hard lockdown was announced, I was sitting in a room discussing ways of how best to go through the transition. Then, before I knew it, Covid-19 lockdown was announced: now I had two challenges to deal with."

Bobo adds that she thinks joining Roche Diagnostics at that time tested every muscle in her body, “but it was a good test of resilience and my ability, not having prior experience in a pharmaceutical industry.”

She says although navigating the Covid-19 pandemic and a transformation was a new experience for her, she appreciated the experience.

“When I interviewed for this job, they told me it requires someone with a thick skin, and I thought, ‘That describes me,’” she says. Bobo explains that throughout her career, she has always been drawn to challenges and was excited to be part of the solution.

“When they told me it was going to be a transition period for the organisation, which required a mindset shift, I thought to myself, is this person trying to scare me off the job? But knowing me, I was drawn to the prospects and the challenges that would come with the transformation.

She has been with Roche Diagnostics for three years.

Prior to joining Roche Diagnostics, Bobo worked for diverse organisations including BP, Independent Newspapers, Absa, Sundown Motor Group and BASF.

“Working for different industries is intentional purely because of where I see myself post-corporate. I believe I need to have understood the different business models to be able to influence,” she says.

She explains that although she has had experience in the HR space, the transformation process at Roche Diagnostics has improved how she views shifts that happen within organisations. “In HR, it is essential to view people as human beings and not as events. This approach helps them improve and grow, particularly during a transformation,” she highlights.

This, she says, has inspired her interest in nurturing young talent and collaborating with the business leaders in leading through change, which has redefined her leadership style.

“I am really passionate about leadership and therefore, therefore, personal mastery and emotional intelligence are key elements of creating a positive employee experience of the workplace.

“I really believe it all starts internally and flows out. My leadership style focuses on leading from the heart. I am able to influence organisations through my vulnerability as a leader, and to show that it is fine to fail fast and recover. So I’m really passionate about leadership.”

She advises that companies must be innovative in fostering interpersonal relationships, employee relationship-building and continued learning and development. She points out that value, purpose, and the connection opportunities your organisation offers internally, sell it to the talent that you need to attract.

Bobo believes the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is the new reason employees get up for work every morning, because it is wrapped in purpose and finished off with a touch of meaningful human connection.

She emphasises that HR professionals should focus on playing a role during transformation by understanding the business, presenting its value, and approaching change with sensitivity.

When she is not hard at work, Bobo is an avid reader and a devoted mother to her daughter. As a person who experienced widowhood at an early age, she dedicates her time to connecting with other widows across the country, sharing experiences and providing support.

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