Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi describes Heineken SA as her first love

Now its HR director, she joined the beer maker before it was registered in South Africa.

Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi was among the first employees at Heineken, when the beer maker set up offices in South Africa. She had been appointed as the head HR business partner for the supply chain division months before the company name had even been registered.

Even in those early days, there was a sense of excitement about what the future had in store and achievement for establishing the local presence of one of the world’s biggest manufacturers in this sector.

“The company started engaging with me in 2015 before Heineken South Africa was even born. When I got the offer letter, the letterhead read ‘DHN Drinks’. I was hired as the head HR business partner for supply chain, but I spent most of the time setting up the operating company (OpCo),” Tshepo recalls. It was only when Heineken SA launched in April 2016 that I began focusing fully on the supply chain side of things.”

This experience of being there since the very beginning is the reason why Tshepo (or Yvonne – she uses both her names interchangeably) refers to Heineken as her first love. She would have stayed in the organisation for the entire period had it not been for the fact that growth opportunities at the time only existed in global markets. However, she wanted to remain close to her family in South Africa, so that was not an option for her.

Consequently, she accepted an HR executive role at Imperial – another company that she had previously worked for, and soon after, was promoted to HR director for Hyundai Automotive South Africa. On why her former employers seem to always want her back, Tshepo says it’s down to her work ethic and willingness to always go the extra mile.

At the age of 29, she was approached by the MD of Imperial Distributions to head up HR for the division, despite having only held roles in middle management prior to that. She thrived in this role and came into her own as a bonafide HR leader. Years later she rejoined the organisation, just as she did with Heineken in February 2020.

Says Tshepo: “I suppose that once a leader has an excellent experience with an HR professional, they will always have them in the back of their mind. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Heineken came for me. I’ve always wanted to learn. I’m very opinionated. I will never sit at a table and keep my opinions to myself. Some of the HR professionals I’ve come across haven’t been very forthcoming with their ideas. It’s also important to have credibility and reliability because people are counting on you, whether it’s Saturday or a public holiday. Beyond your knowledge and skills, you have to show your value through little things, like always being available to put out fires as and when they arise.”

Managing talent amidst a pandemic

Soon after her return to Heineken, the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa’s shores. It’s been a difficult road, but Tshepo says she’s been able to leverage her ability to adapt quickly and go the extra mile. Also, Heineken has always been a people-centric organisation and in the context of a pandemic, that has been a blessing for her, because the business understands when she has championed the need to put people first.

“It was challenging because we needed to shift resources earmarked for executing our strategy in order to put the health and safety of our people first and protect the livelihood of our employees. But that is why HR has such an important role to play in today’s world,” she asserts.

Among Tshepo’s primary concerns regarding the pandemic is the loss of talent during times of uncertainty to organisations that have thrived over the last few months.

She further challenges leaders and HR professionals to pay special attention to building a culture of resilience during these turbulent times. She suggests that leaders move away from a traditional reward and recognition approach, which is usually based on performance accrued. In its place, she suggests that they adopt an intrinsic rewards system, as it is forward looking and sets the foundations of engagement and motivation required to nurture the future wellbeing of each team member and their productivity.

“Although having a culture of reward and recognition is very positive, in times of distress such as these, we must appeal to the most intimate needs for the recognition of human beings. In addition, we should not forget to foster a very strong sense of tribe amongst our staff, rather than just a feeling of belonging,” she concludes.