Discovery's Tswelo Kodisang is the 2020 CHRO Of The Year


The second annual CHRO Awards celebrated the best and brightest of SA’s HR leaders.

Discovery chief people officer Tswelo Kodisang has been named South Africa’s CHRO of the Year at the second annual CHRO Awards. This was announced on Thursday 26 November 2020 at the end of a gala event for HR executives, held at Inanda Club in Johannesburg

Tswelo scooped three of the eight accolades awarded on the night, also winning the Strategy & Leadership Award, and the HR & Technology Award.

Another big winner at the prestigious event, the largest gathering of high-profile HR leaders of the year, was second-time nominee and McDonald’s SA chief people officer Brigitte Da Gama, who won the Transformation & Empowerment Award and the Talent Management Award.

Kyle Chetty, the executive for HR at Autoboys, was crowned Young CHRO of the Year, while Investec head of people and organisation Lesley-Anne Gatter won the Employee Value Proposition Award, and Tiger Brands CHRO S’ne Magagula took home the prize in the Learning & Development category.

The awards were handed out at a glittering ceremony attended by 150 of South Africa’s top HR executives. With Covid-19 still a reality the invitees came out for the first CHRO event of the year since the national lockdown was implemented. Everyone kept socially distant but enjoyed themselves nonetheless while comedian Loyiso Madinga had the crowd in stitches. Biomimicry Expert Claire Janisch also dazzled attendees with her insights about how business can learn from nature.

The full list of CHRO Awards 2020 winners:

CHRO of the Year – Tswelo Kodisang (Discovery)
Young CHRO of the Year – Kyle Chetty (Autoboys)
Strategy & Leadership Award – Tswelo Kodisang (Discovery)
Transformation & Empowerment Award – Brigitte Da Gama (McDonald’s SA)
HR & Technology Award – Tswelo Kodisang (Discovery)
Employee Value Proposition Award – Lesley-Anne Gatter (Investec)
Talent Management Award – Brigitte Da Gama (McDonald’s SA)
Learning & Development Award – S’ne Magagula (Tiger Brands)

The annual CHRO Awards are organised by CHRO South Africa, the community that connects HR executives through executive events, the bi-annual CHRO Magazine, and social media channels. This year, Covid-19 has revealed how much human capital can transform organisations and what an important role the function plays in navigating the people agenda as businesses face a barrage of unprecedented challenges.
The CHRO of the Year Award was handed out by sponsor Workday’s Country Leader Zuko Mdwaba and accepted by Tswelo, who joined the dynamic financial services firm Discovery as chief people officer in February 2018. Prior to this Tswelo held the CHRO role at Tiger Brands, where he was responsible for organising and managing agendas, HR strategy and systems, and performance.

Tswelo has been a longstanding member of the CHRO SA community and, now after more than two years in his role, he still follows the same principles for achieving people-focused organisational growth as he did when he was the CHRO at Tiger Brands, despite the two being very different companies.

Tswelo says his role is to ensure that Discovery has an excellent employer brand and that it attracts, develops and retains the best talent. Through partnership with the businesses within the group, Tswelo and his team have created significant strategic value by implementing enterprise HR solutions such as SuccessFactors, Power BI and robotic process automation. This has saved 3,900 human hours of work, enabling HR to focus on other business-enhancing activities. In addition to being a growth engine, Discovery has a R150 million loan book for small and medium enterprises. Tswelo believes it is better to create employment by creating businesses that can employ more people. Currently, Discovery has allocated R12 million to grooming 23 entrepreneurs.

Tswelo received his HR and Technology Award from Viresh Maharaj, managing executive of Sanlam Corporate Distribution, which sponsored the award. The Strategy And Leadership Award, which was sponsored by Deloitte, was handed to Tswelo by Pam Maharaj, the Africa human capital leader for Deloitte Human Capital Consulting.

Other award winners:

Young CHRO of The Year – Kyle Chetty, Autoboys HR executive

When Kyle joined Autoboys, he surveyed employees to discover their views, and developed the company’s values from there. Within three years, the business went from a turnover of R5 million to a turnover of more than R30 million, and Kyle had to align the people strategy to the growth strategy.

When Kyle joined the business, they had no B-BBEE rating, and they are now at B-BBEE Level 1. Over the last three years, they have employed 80 previously disadvantaged learners, 42 of whom were disabled. Kyle also introduced a R8.5 million annual training budget, and has been instrumental in the implementation of payroll, company intranet, performance management, and time and attendance systems.

Kyle’s award was handed to him by Vodacom CHRO Matimba Mbungela, who last year scooped the HR and Technology award.

Transformation & Empowerment and Talent Management – Brigitte Da Gama, chief people officer, McDonald’s SA

This is the second nomination for Brigitte, who was nominated for the inaugural CHRO Awards that took place last year. Coming from a strong family lineage of educators, she has an intrinsic desire to help people better themselves. She lives by the mantra that her role is more than a job because, for her, it’s a calling that allows her to fulfil her purpose every day.

“My family history has had a significant influence in imprinting the ardent love for seeing people learn and grow to become the most developed versions of themselves,” she once explained.

Having studied business, Brigitte is always considering how she can add value to the bottom line. Under her stewardship, the McDonald’s South Africa transformation stats are 96 percent black staff and 60 percent women, and the company actively recruits people with disabilities.

Three years ago a staff mobile app was launched as part of an award-winning culture activation programme. During the hard lockdown the app was used to maintain strong communication with all staff, to pro-actively educate on gender-based violence and assist staff with mental health concerns. In the latter part of 2019, Brigitte and her team launched a corporate university with the aim of further accelerating and expanding training and development programmes.

The Transformation & Empowerment Award was handed to Brigitte by Raisibe Morathi, Vodacom CFO, and CHRO Awards judge, while the Talent Management award was handed to her by Roland Glass, the chief business officer at Talent Smith.

Learning & Development Award – S’ne Magagula, CHRO, Tiger Brands

S’ne Magagula succeeded Tswelo when she joined Tiger Brands as the CHRO in 2018. She is a former senior vice president, group human capital for the Sasol Group, and previously held various human resources leadership positions in the company, both locally and globally. Prior to joining Sasol, she spent 10 years at Shell in various roles in South Africa and Netherlands.

“In my view, human resources is about connecting the art of possibility, individual and team potential with organisational performance. It is how innovation comes to life and that’s what inspires me the most about leading change in an organisation like Tiger,” said S’ne in this CHRO SA article.

When S’ne joined Tiger Brands, she worked to shape a simple people strategy anchored on the three pillars of Talent, Leadership and Great Place to Work. She and her team put in place rigorous talent management aimed at ensuring that Tiger Brands started to “grow its own timber”. She also led the refresh of Tiger’s winning culture aspiration, values and winning behaviours. S’ne says that Tiger has a 93 percent representation of diverse employees, and aims to exceed 44 percent of female representation at senior levels by 2023. S’ne has recently led a cross-functional team that proposed the implementation of Workday to digitise human capital management and employee experience, combined with a more integrated SAP payroll.

Employee Value Proposition – Lesley-Anne Gatter, head of people and organisation, Investec

Lesley-Anne joined Investec in 2006 and became the head of learning and development in 2007. In this role, she collaborated on the design and delivery of learning initiatives into the organisation, including diversity and leadership development. In 2016, she was appointed to her current position as the head of people and organisation where she’s responsible for the people value chain. As an established practitioner in the people space, she manages the ways in which Investec’s culture supports and drives its people and their businesses toward extraordinary performance.

Lesley-Anne leads the employee life cycle and value proposition, Investec’s internal and external transformation initiatives and the company’s work in relation to equality (diversity and inclusion) practices. Additionally, she facilitates learning, leadership and other processes in the business. She is passionate about Investec’s culture and believes it is the strategic differentiator for the business.

In 2019, she was appointed to the newly formed ESG (environmental, social and governance) executive committee. The group’s task is to co-ordinate Investec’s efforts across geographies and businesses from both a strategy and policy perspective, develop a relevant framework that aligns with the business’s purpose and values, and help the businesses take up opportunities to make a difference in the world. Lesley-Anne’s specific focus on this committee is equality initiatives, a responsibility she is passionate about.

Momentum Corporate was the sponsor of the Employee Value Proposition Award, which was handed to Lesley-Anne by its CEO, Dumo Mbethe.

“The CHRO Awards are the highlight on the annual calendar for HR executives and the teams that support them,” says Joël Roerig, managing director of CHRO South Africa. “HR has gone through a massive transformation over the last few years and HR practitioners have become real drivers of vision and value. The CHRO Awards can be seen as the Oscars of HR, where the best and bravest HR role models are acknowledged and celebrated. This year’s 20 nominees are all exceptional leaders in their own right and truly deserve their accolades as nominees and winners.”

The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of industry leaders and HR experts:

Jane Waters, COO Allen & Overy
Prof. Nicola Kleyn, Dean: Executive Education Rotterdam School of Management
Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie, managing partner Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo
Xolile Sizani, Director Nzuri Management Consultancy
Pam Maharaj, director and Africa leader, Deloitte Human Capital Consulting
Raisibe Morathi, group CFO Vodacom
Richard Sutton, global stress resilience expert
Prof. Shirley Zinn, non-executive director
Vukani Mngxati, CEO Accenture Africa
Paul Norman, CHRO MTN Group

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