It’s time for HR professionals to move from “paper pushers” to strategic business partners.
Chanique Dodo, country HR leader for Oracle South Africa, says it’s high time the HR function embraces the digital era and becomes future-fit.
She says her team is past the teething stages of the digital transformation journey. “We have moved away from spending most of our time on administrative duties and we leverage systems to take care of admin. This means my team and I do not spend our time on items like adding someone on payroll or manually drafting an employee letter. If an employee needs a letter, there is a link where he/she can download the said letter from the system.
“Our organisation embraces a self-service approach and this enables our employees to obtain what they want in their own time and not wait for anyone to provide it to them. In addition, during employee onboarding, we do not have an IT support resource. New hires set up their own laptops by following the various support links. At first, new hires are surprised by this approach, but soon feel the empowerment that comes with a self-service digital approach.”
She adds that this allows her and her team to spend time on areas where they can add value in more strategic items such as implementing HR programmes that solve business problems.
“These are matters such as upskilling our workforce so that they are prepared for the future of work, addressing issues around attrition and retention, improving culture and transformation. These will impact our long-term business objectives. This is the direction that the HR function needs to move to, in my view. The more we show our value add, the more the perception about our function changes.”
Chanique has always been a person who thinks ahead. Bravely leaving Cape Town at just 23 to join FNB as part of their graduate programme, she had great intentions for her blossoming career.
“I didn't know anyone in Johannesburg and that was very daunting. I remember my mom being very nervous about me moving to another part of the country as I had only ever lived with her and my sister.”
At FNB, she was part of the talent acquisition team who were positioned as a centralised function and managed the young talent programme, succession planning and experienced hiring for the entire bank. It was with this opportunity and moving outside of her comfort zone, Cape Town, where she noticed that she would soon need to work harder to prove herself and her capabilities.
“During my search for a graduate role, it was evident that companies were mainly interested in graduates from the more popular universities like UCT, Stellenbosch and Wits. As much as as getting into the FNB graduate programme was a proud moment for me, as I was the only HR graduate selected from 120 who were successful for the programme, it was bittersweet, as we were only two graduates out of the 120 who came from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).”
Chanique furthermore felt a sense of responsibility to make a success of the opportunity. “I knew I needed this one opportunity to change the trajectory of not only my future, but the future of those at home.”
Following a successful year of learning at FNB, Chanique joined Cummins, a multinational company, and later moved into her first HR leadership role at FieldCore, a General Electric company.
Now an HR leader at Oracle and an executive committee member, Chanique attributes her career opportunities to remaining authentic to who she is, leading with empathy and being resilient through adversity. “Being in HR can be lonely sometimes, and having a supportive family structure has helped me get through the challenging times,” she notes.
Chanique takes motivation from having being the youngest member of the leadership team throughout her career, coupled with being a woman of colour, and sees it as an opportunity to inspire those who are still to come.
She holds a master’s in commerce specialising in industrial psychology from UWC and she is currently pursuing her MBA at Henley Business School – Africa.
Her advice to fellow HR executives who are yet to embark on this digital transformation journey? Understand what you wish to achieve as a business by moving to digital, and how it will create value and add value to your business, she says. “Buy-in from the board is easier to achieve when the objective is clear and when the value can be quantified. Then, you need to understand your people, the diversity of your organisation. Obtain employee feedback in the beginning stages of your move to digital, as opposed to taking a top-down implementation approach.
“Employees are the ones who will be working on the new systems and processes. Not all employees are digitally ready, and understanding how to address the readiness levels is key to achieve all-round success of moving to digital.
“Finally, your change management programme needs to be solidified as a people first approach; from communication to timelines to providing ongoing training and support,” she concludes.