Diageo CHRO Dineo Moledi links purpose to passion

The energetic HR leader sees the power of great talent within an organisation.

The journey that Dineo Moledi, HR director at Diageo, has been on since starting her career as a graduate trainee has led her to understand that the concept of purpose can be found many times over.

“I used to struggle with the concept of purpose and I have since learnt that it is not a static concept. When I had my daughter, my purpose was to be the best mother. Simultaneously, my purpose has also been to be an HR director. I have come to accept that deeply within myself that my purpose is to inspire others to be their best,” she says.

She adds, “Pre-Covid, I noticed that people are forever chasing something. Now, it’s more of a stop and think and contribute from being enough for yourself.”

For Dineo, purpose has always been linked to passion. “I am driven by matters that I am passionate about at the time. When I was student at Wits, there was something around the history of the mining industry in South Africa and how critical it was to modern labour relations. I therefore wanted to join Anglo American to experience and understand this key industry in South Africa from an economic perspective,” she explains.

After completing a postgraduate diploma in management through Wits Business School, Dineo did just that by joining Anglo as a graduate trainee. “I knew at the time that I didn’t want an academic career, and by joining Anglo I received a lot of exposure to the mining industry. I was in industrial relations and knew that I wanted to explore all facets of HR,” she says.

So, a year after completing the graduate programme, Dineo joined General Electric. That is where she really began to understand the power of getting great talent into an organisation and how to solve business problems through using the people agenda.

“The power is really in making the business understand that that’s possible, so people think HR before they think business. A lot of HR people have done a lot of good work to bring the people agenda to the centre of the conversation and I admire that,” she says.

She adds, “I think the biggest growth was when I joined General Electric. It always received the best company to work for rating, and is the highest performing organisation in the US. This is where I got really exposed to the whole concept of how you deliver results through people and developed the ability to be really courageous as an HR person.”

It is also from her time at GE that Dineo learnt to embrace change and developed her business acumen to form strong relationships with leaders.

“I am very adaptable after being with an organisation that changed rapidly. It helped me to learn about the power of teams and collaboration – with people from across the globe. I have carried that with me throughout my career,” she says.

A notable learning for Dineo was the focus on talent succession.

“Jack Welsh’s philosophy is admired throughout the world, particularly around leadership and people development. Succession planning was important. There is always someone who can take over within the business. It’s quite amazing. There is a method to succession planning and a great way to identify and keep great talent,” she adds.

Driving a high-performance culture in a way that is feasible to financial results and making it clear what employees need to achieve is another big learning that Dineo took from her time at GE.

“I formed close connections there and we embraced the company culture wherever in the world we were based. I am still in contact with my former colleagues,” she says.

With these learnings, Dineo is now focusing on building a culture at Diageo where employees can celebrate life every day.

“I joined Diageo in February 2021 and we are transforming the HR function to offer an amazing employee brand proposition. I am really excited about the energy building within the organisation, where we can celebrate life every day, even at work,” she says.

Dineo explains that when she started in HR, her mentor at the time had experience being in a sales organisation and believed that the HR proposition has to be sold to the business.

“The question is what value are you adding as HR. That is very relevant now, as the pandemic has resulted in what is called the great resignation. So, employees are realising it’s their market now. They have choices and don’t have to relocate to work for a company in the US, for example. We have to brand ourselves internally as well, as better than the competitor,” she says.