Connecting, collaborating and capacitating is what makes e4’s Phylla Jele tick


The dedicated HR leader believes in navigating the heart and soul of business evolution with passion and purpose.

HR and transformations executive at e4, Phylla Jele is doing what she absolutely loves in her field. Appointed in 2022, Phylla describes her role as the heart and soul of the enterprise.

“HR is not only the custodian of policies, but, for me, is about supporting employees and the business. This calls for great responsibility and accountability and I look forward to rising to that challenge. I love to be at the heart of an enterprise,” she says.

For Phylla, HR also enables the entire organisation to thrive, as every HR activity is centred around building human capital. “I love that we are enablers: we ensure the organisation’s continuity into the future. Connecting with people, collaborating with line, capacitating teams either via recruitment strategies or talent and development. Human Capital creates value facilitating processes such as attraction, retention, talent development, reward, performance management, etc. We understand what the business needs and capacitate it accordingly.”

In 2007, while holding down a position at Afrisam as a sales consultant, Phylla underwent an employee career assessment process that carved her path into HR. “I remember the then HR professional Mefane Makhutla setting up a meeting and asking me if I was still interested in joining HR and my answer was a resounding YES! He warned me that since this was a trainee position, I would not be eligible for a salary increase for the duration of the programme, I did not flinch. I grabbed that opportunity with both hands.”

From that moment, she grew in leaps and bounds, moving to higher positions in various companies, including Imperial Logistics, Tracker Connect and fintech i-Pay. In 2019, she joined Hudaco Industries as group executive for transformation and human resources.

The highs and lows of HR

It is during this time that she sharpened her skills, “Some of my career highlights include working within a dynamic environment at a  consulting company and being part of an HR team that cared for employees who were mostly seconded to government departments,” she says. “This part of my journey highlighted-public private partnerships in the South African landscape.

“Moving on to Imperial, I worked in a centralised business model that had more than 40,000 employees at the time, and a world class graduate pipelining programme.

At Tracker, she says, she learnt a lot: “I embedded HR policy and processes together with the HR team and line; collaborated with learning and development for a graduate development and also created a healthy industrial relations environment by ensuring both management and staff understood the basic labour acts through empowerment sessions.”

No job is without its challenges and for Phylla, the biggest challenge in her career came in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic was a stress factor: everyone was looking to HR for guidance, and we all had to gather evidence as we were all going through the fire and there we were, writing policies, processes and practices into the history books.”

Outside of the administration, the pandemic brought about culture re-engineering, she adds. “I believe that the employee who went to work remotely in March 2020 is not the same employee who returned in 2022/2023. This employee has forever been changed: some of us lost loved ones, we lost colleagues, we had to be teachers while kids went online and will forever appreciate teachers because of this. So practices, systems, processes and values changed, and culture was impacted. The leadership teams had to work to increase staff morale and attrition.”

Lots more to be done

Phylla says her journey in the industry is far from over as she endeavours to move into different industries and make a worthy change. “This keeps me on my feet and makes the challenge exciting, as the nuances of each particular industry demands a different talent strategy.”

She adds that she is guided by the value, “First do no harm, be mindful… Always! This allows me to dig deep into my inspiration – from ensuring there is fairness for employees and that the business has sound practices. When that is in line, my soul is at peace.”

Her advice for young people who want to have a career like hers? “If you want to make people realise their potential and help a business to hire high-performance individuals, then this is the career for you. If you are a people solutions architect who is passionate about problem-solving on people issues, then you can definitely make a career out of HR.”

Human capital, she adds, is fulfilling if one can strike a balance between being a custodian of policies and an advocate of employees.

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