Chief people officer Akhona Qengqe takes on KFC GM role


Akhona Qengpe will take up the position of general manager as of 1 April 2023.

Akhona Qengqe has become the first African woman to lead food chain KFC on the continent. Recently appointed as general manager from her previous position as chief people officer, Akhona will be replacing Dhruv Kaul, who is moving into a GM role for KFC Pan Europe.

In 2021, Akhona was nominated for a CHRO South Africa Award for the work she has done as the chief people officer at the food chain, which includes conceptualising and launching the Women on the Move programme. Women on the Move is a transformative 12-month programme to equip women with tools and resources that will help them leverage their innate leadership qualities, and fuel results within the KFC business locally.

During her tenure as chief people officer, Akhona noted during a CHRO Community Conversation that while it is important to identify talent to future-proof businesses and create business success, it is also necessary to create structures and processes to develop talent and drive retention and engagement, as well as replacing talent in the areas of the business where they will add the most value.

Akhona, who also said she is a huge advocate for collaboration and constant feedback to drive employee growth and aspiration, hopes to bring a similar energy to the new role.

“We want to keep our talent engaged and create pathways for them to grow, even if it is lateral and gives them exposure to other parts of the business – so we can build better leaders.”

She acknowledges it is the very same people, along with ongoing commitment to high performance and a heart-led culture that have aided the business to grow and gain momentum in the past few difficult years. “We have shown that the impossible is in fact possible. I cannot wait to see what we can collectively achieve,” she said.

Her journey at KFC Africa started in 2015 as development director, after which she was promoted to lead the brand’s equity, inclusion and belonging agenda, before being promoted to chief people officer (CPO) for KFC Africa in 2020 and more recently, appointed to chief development officer.

Prior to joining the fast food chain, Akhona was the head of convenience retail at Shell South Africa, and before that, the national convenience operations manager at Engen.

She holds a BCom, majoring in economics, politics and philosophy, from the University of Cape Town, and a certificate in marketing management from Unisa.

Speaking on her appointment, Sabir Sami, KFC Global CEO said the appointment was a no-brainer, as Akhona has been central to the development and success of KFC Africa’s equality programmes, taking them to new heights both on the local front as well as from a global perspective.

“Akhona has spent the better part of her eight years at KFC as an intrinsic part of the KFC leadership team in Africa and has worked closely with Dhruv and the team to ensure sustainability of the business but also, growth of local female talent. In fact, she has been instrumental in the team achieving diverse talent, with the Africa Senior leadership population now 50% women.”

Akhona said being appointed is a dream come true. “Having grown up in the small rural town of Umtata in the Eastern Cape and being exposed to the many challenges that most women in our country face, being able to fill this role and represent others that look like me, is what gives this real meaning and purpose for me.”

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