Five questions for SAPRO chief talent architect Wiedaad Shaik

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The CA turned talent chief says her accounting background helps her drive success through ethical leadership.

Chief talent architect at SAPRO Wiedaad Shaik is a qualified CA(SA) and an experienced auditor. In 2020 she decided to change careers and expand her skillset outside of the auditing fraternity. CHRO South Africa caught up with her to find out how she is leveraging her past experience to excel in her new career path.

1. How did you become interested in the field of HR and what led you to your current position?

I made the big leap from a conservative small town on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal to Cape Town to pursue a profession in accounting and auditing at UCT. After qualifying and completing my articles at one of the Big Four accounting firms, I continued to seek ‘more’ in terms of life experience and career growth. After three years of living in the UK, I returned to Cape Town to start a new chapter in my life. I am currently expanding my skill set outside of the profession, but continue to be engaged by the variety of experiences and learning opportunities available. I have always valued the opportunity to engage and continuously learn from those around me, recognising the massive impact the ‘human element’ can have on the success of any team dynamic, project or business.
As the world of work evolves and technology enables greater access to remote work environments, businesses are having to adapt and strengthen their remote work culture by promoting connectedness and engagement. I have an intense enthusiasm for what I do, and my current role provides a platform to explore how technology can drive better hiring decisions, provide greater access to opportunities and promote connectedness to ensure the human element is not lost.

2. As an experienced chartered accountant, how do your financial expertise and background add value to your current role and how do you leverage your skills to support the company’s growth and success?

CAs are mandated to be ethically minded, to be responsible leaders and act in the best interest of the public and the country. This is engraved in everything we do and closely aligned with SAPRO’s mission, vision and values. As an experienced auditor and professional, I have an indepth understanding of the behavioural and technical capabilities required to consistently deliver quality to our clients.
My roles at SAPRO have required a deep understanding of our talent requirements in order to successfully deliver client value and provide meaningful career opportunities to our PROs. Leveraging my experience has been a major success factor in ensuring the right people are placed in the right jobs.

3. In your opinion, what are the key challenges or opportunities that HR professionals in your industry currently face?

Creating a differentiated and relevant employee value proposition in the age of remote work. Attracting and retaining experienced auditors. As businesses grow more complex and implement new technologies and models, an auditor needs to be able to adapt and respond to changing environments. There is a growing need for firms to leverage a diverse pool of experienced talent while continuously upskilling these individuals to remain relevant.

4. Your role entails connecting professionals to agile career opportunities. Could you elaborate on the strategies you use to identify and match employees with suitable career paths within the organisation?

Our EVP provides the framework of values we live by. This extends to the way we work and the type of opportunities we provide to our people. We work together to co-create our career paths, providing opportunities to grow, and continuously develop. Understanding the behavioural and technical attributes of our client needs are critical in providing the best possible opportunities for our PROs to succeed.

5. How do you ensure that the company remains at the forefront of innovation in talent management?

One of the key design principles is to ensure a business-aligned talent strategy that is agile, scalable and embraces a new way of work. It’s important to recognise that technology serves as an enabler not a problem-solver. My colleague and mentor often refers to “reserving the right to learn and get smarter”. The pace at which technology is advancing can often seem daunting: my approach is to be open-minded, to be willing to consider new ideas, while evaluating the value and impact that this change could bring. Finally, don’t discount opportunities outside of what you know and are familiar with. Leverage that experience and explore your interests while you continue to grow and learn in the process.

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