MTN Group CHRO Paul Norman named CHRO of the Year 2019


The MTN CHRO was also awarded the Talent Management Award and Learning & Development Award.

MTN Group CHRO Paul Norman has been named South Africa’s CHRO of the Year at the inaugural CHRO Awards. This was announced on Wednesday 27 November 2019 at the end of a gala event for HR executives, held at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

Paul scooped three of the eight accolades awarded on the night, also winning the Learning & Development Award, and Talent Management Award.

Another big winner at the prestigious event, the largest gathering of high-profile HR leaders of the year, was Standard Bank Head of Human Capital Sharon Taylor who won the Strategy & Leadership Award and the Transformation & Empowerment Award.

Trishana Maharaj, who is the HR and Health and Safety Director for Africa at G4S, was crowned Young CHRO of the Year, while Sun International Group Executive for HR Verna Robson won the Employee Value Proposition Award. Vodacom Group CHRO Matimba Mbungela took home the prize in the HR & Technology category.

The awards were handed out at a glittering ceremony attended by 250 of South Africa’s top HR executives, at which comedian Loyiso Madinga had the crowd stitches. Attendees also heard from Saray Khumalo, the first African woman to summit Mount Everest, about persevering when the oxygen gets low. Astrophotographer Cory Schmitz also provided dazzling insights into the universe, revealing the surprising significance of humans in the bigger scheme of things.

Full list of CHRO Awards 2019 winners:

  • CHRO of the Year – Paul Norman (MTN)
  • Young CHRO of the Year – Trishana Maharaj (G4S)
  • Strategy & Leadership Award – Sharon Taylor (Standard Bank)
  • Transformation & Empowerment Award – Sharon Taylor (Standard Bank)
  • HR & Technology Award – Matimba Mbungela (Vodacom Group)
  • Employee Value Proposition Award – Verna Robson (Sun International)
  • Talent Management Award – Paul Norman (MTN)
  • Learning & Development Award – Paul Norman (MTN)

The annual CHRO Awards are organised by CHRO South Africa, the CHRO South Africa community that connects HR executives through executive events, the bi-annual CHRO Magazine, and social media channels. By helping top HR leaders share knowledge, exchange interests and open up business opportunities, CHRO South Africa proudly contributes to the growth of the country.

The CHRO of the Year Award was sponsored by Workday. ClarkHouse Human Capital sponsored the Transformation & Empowerment Award, Oracle sponsored the Strategy & Leadership Award, and Momentum Consultants and Actuaries sponsored the Employee Value Proposition Award. 

The CHRO of the Year Award was handed out by sponsor Workday’s Country Leader Zuko Mdwaba and accepted by Paul, who has been with the MTN for 20 years of its 23-year history. 

Paul has been at the heart of MTN’s HR strategy for most of the company’s 25-year existence. His focus has shifted from aiding MTN’s expansion across 24 countries to re-shaping the organisation into an agile digital telco. More recently, he has focused on a unique approach to employee experiences. Paul’s leadership style is aimed at cohesion and he has introduced an on-the-spot recognition platform and a next-generation learning platform focused on creating a unique learning experience, which simulates a variety of technical, cognitive and behavioural skills to targeted business outcomes.
Other award winners:

Young CHRO of The Year – Trishana Maharaj, G4S HR and Health and Safety Director, Africa

Trishana joined G4S as the HR and Health & Safety Director for Africa in early 2018 and immediately played a significant role in empowering the HR function, in developing commercial business skills and managing the wage bill of Africa's largest employer to its best levels to date. Trishana enjoys making complex issues simple for her peers, team and general employees to understand and she does not shy away from speaking out on every level of the organisation. Trishana has recently began the journey of implementing a single instance HR and payroll system across 23 African countries covering 110,000 employees.

Xolani Mawande, CEO of the SABPP, handed Trishana her award.

Transformation & Empowerment and Strategy & Leadership – Sharon Taylor, Standard Bank Head of Human Capital

Through Sharon long HR career at Standard Bank, she has led the introduction of many of the people strategies, philosophies and approaches that define the bank today. She is seen as authentic, empowering and consistent. Sharon has helped Standard Bank make great strides with transformation and technology. She is passionate about the development of young talent, having started the first graduate programme in the bank in 1997. Employee engagement, leadership effectiveness & succession, the creation of a compelling culture and ensuring a future-fit workforce are key aspects for Sharon and her highly engaged and curious team. 

The Transformation & Empowerment Award was handed to Sharon by Deborah Booth, Director at ClarkHouse Human Capital, the sponsor of this award, while the Strategy & Leadership Award was handed to her by George Ferreira, Senior Sales Director at Oracle, the award sponsor.

HR & Technology, Matimba Mbungela, Vodacom Group CHRO

Matimba has played a pivotal role in the digital transformation journey that Vodacom has been on in the last five years. He combines a humble leadership style with strong opinions and a strong focus on performance. His HR team advocates the human touch, but is also known to drive the tough conversations. He is particularly proud of the Engage app, which combines many aspects of employee engagement, including payslips, employee self-service, learning and development, leave management, onboarding and much more. Matimba believes that engagement is about making work fun and giving away freebies is part of that.

This award was handed to Matimba by Vukani Mngxati, a member of the panel of judges and Managing Director of Accenture in Africa. 

Employee Value Proposition – Verna Robson, Sun International Group executive, HR

Verna Robson is extremely proud of the incentives and benefits Sun International offers to its employees. She describes her leadership style as empowering, but also strongly focused on making sure HR delivers what the business wants. Verna is passionate about transformation and empowerment and assists in steering Sun International to Level 1 for three years in a row now. She works closely with IT to digitise the HR processes and currently busy with introducing an e-learning platform. She has reduced the dependencies of the business on recruitment agents, not only to save money but also because she believes internal people are the best ambassadors to explain what the organisation is about.

Blessing Utete, Executive Director at Momentum Consultants & Actuaries, the sponsor of the award, handed it to Verna. 

“The CHRO Awards is 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 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 19 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
  • Mel Brooks, Regional President G4S Africa
  • Moula Mokhobo-Amegashie, Managing Partner Drayton Glendower & Mokhobo
  • Prof. Nicola Kleyn, Dean GIBS
  • Pam Maharaj, Human Capital Director Deloitte
  • Raisibe Morathi, Group CFO Nedbank
  • Richard Sutton, Global Stress Resilience Expert
  • Prof. Shirley Zinn, Non-executive director
  • Vukani Mngxati, CEO Accenture Africa

Read more:

Related articles