CHRO Awards judges agree that business impact is an important criteria for nominees

Judge and non-executive director Shirley Zinn notes the “phenomenal” quality of South African CHROs.

In July and August 2021, CHRO South Africa interviewed all nominees for the CHRO Awards to get a clear picture of their drive, motivation, vision and results.

The interviews were conducted by at least one judge and a senior representative or member of the CHRO SA editorial team. The write-ups of these interviews were then added to the Awards dossier and used by the judges to determine their individual votes.

The goal of the interview is to get insight into the CHRO’s involvement in the overall success of the company and the ways in which they have distinguished themselves.

Managing partner at Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo, Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie says she has been a judge for the CHRO Awards since inception, and it has been an absolute privilege and honour to meet human capital leaders across different sectors, working in different companies of varying sizes, solving very complex human capital problems.

“I think what we have been looking for as judges is a level of innovation; men and women who have pioneered in terms of building systems and processes that get the best out of leaders and people who run and create successful, sustainable organisations.

“We have worked in a very complex environment over the past two to three years, particularly since the advent of Covid-19 and the pandemic befalling the global economy, which has stretched human capital managers to the hilt in terms of creating systems and processes that support high performance in very unpredictable environments, markets and climates.”

Moula says the characteristics, traits and behaviours they are looking for are resilience, aspiration and the ability to work with ambiguity and complexity in an ever-evolving, fast-paced and highly unpredictable environment, as well as the ability to use analytics, insight and technology to drive high performance.

“They also need to be able to be a step ahead and really help and support businesses through creating, harnessing, developing and attracting great men and women who support businesses to reach their intended goals, whether they are commercially, socially or impact driven or whether they are there to work and support organisations that make this a better place and a better world.”

Caryn Baird, former head of human capital at FirstRand, said engaging with the talented calibre of human capital professionals and executives during the judging process was fantastic.

“It is encouraging to hear how critical and valued the human capital agendas are across the various organisations in South Africa. In my judging capacity, I was looking for executives who can operate at what I call ‘the intersection of strategy and culture’ – executives who understand the business strategy and contribute meaningfully to it, both through organisational, people and culture responses as well as more broadly from a strategic advisory and value creation perspective.

“From a people and culture perspective, I was looking for a guardian and custodian of their organisation’s culture and values, a compassionate and empathetic leader and an executive who is credible and trusted by both leadership and the broader employee base of their organisation. I am all about heart and impact and so I was evaluating the executives on this basis.”

Paul Norman, MTN’s group CHRO who won the CHRO Of The Year Award in 2019, says the judging process is quite robust. “The interviews are very helpful to engage and experience the various CHROs more directly. It is a pity that these could not be done in person and at the work site, given Covid-19 conditions. Nonetheless, the dossier provided on each nominee is comprehensive and gives a very good impression of the work being done by each of them.

“I was looking for CHROs whose work is impactful and creates value for the business. It is important that HR finds its relevance in the business strategy, so I am looking for an HR plan that shows it takes this into account. I was also looking for cutting edge practice and innovative responses to the business challenges and clearly articulated and demonstrated HR actions which are creating business value.”

Independent non-executive director Shirley Zinn says it was a very professional, thorough, intense and rigorous process, with outstanding nominations.

“Very encouraging to note is the phenomenal calibre of our CHROs in South Africa. We are living in unprecedented times and HR professionals have had to step up to the extraordinary complexities and huge changes throughout. Very inspirational indeed.

“Well done to all of them for taking the lead and working together with their CEOs, executives and boards to provide unique, sustainable solutions during these challenging times.”