Four tips for climbing the HR career ladder 

Top HR leaders share their advice: it takes passion and dedication. 

For those considering a career in human resources, the industry can be stressful especially when being responsible for an organisation’s employees and helping them thrive in the workplace. However, three highly-experienced professionals offered their advice at the HR Indaba on October 3, 2018, on how to navigate career goals and ambitions in the industry.

1.    Be reliable and execute tasks with quality.
Brigitte Da Gama, the executive director of human capital at McDonald's, is a qualified industrial psychologist, who started her career “right at the bottom.” Brigitte said professionals who want to build a career in HR need to be committed and execute tasks with quality. “When you do that, you start having credibility and people start believing that you are reliable. Doing this will help a lot of new HR professionals build credibility and a work ethic,” she said.

2.    Find a mentor 
Arguably, this tip applies to all career fields. But in the HR industry, there several qualities that must be identified in a mentor, said Ndivhu Nepfumbada, the HR director for Africa at Transunion. “When identifying a mentor, you need someone who will challenge you and has the time to invest in you. Look at where they sit in an organisation and the influence they have.  Someone that has clout could open the doors for you and help you navigate politics in an organisation,” said Ndivhu. 

3.    Be resilient 
Dealing with people and different personalities in an organisation can be difficult. Reflecting on her moments of resilience, Ndivhu said when she landed her first job at an AngloGold mine in 1994, the environment and people were hostile towards her.  “I was the first black trainee at AngloGold.  There was no Black Economic Empowerment policy at the time. I got into an environment where I was resented as they thought I was there because I was black. It took a lot from me and I would get back home and cry. But I said to myself: I was going there and I was going to show them what I am capable of’.” 

4.    Be passionate about people and know yourself 
Professionals who successfully build a career in HR tend to be passionate about people and are usually self-aware, said Tirelo Sibisis, the executive vice president for group human resources at AngloGold Ashanti. “It's important to know who you are in terms of values and what you stand for. Once you are clear about who you are and what suits you, then this will drive your decisions,” said Tirelo.  “My passion is for people and their excellence, which has anchored how I approach roles and organisations I work for.”