Weir Minerals’ Tshidi Anya is clear about what she wants from her career

Tshidi Anya has just joined Weir Minerals as the regional HR director: Africa and Middle East.

Tshidi Anya, Weir Minerals regional HR director: Africa & Middle East, is armed with a multi-faceted HR experience spanning more 20 years across an array of sectors, including government, oil and gas, chemicals and fast-moving consumer goods. She is currently settling into her new position while also pursuing her doctorate and working part-time as an executive coach.

While this would seem overwhelming to most, Tshidi is no stranger to a mammoth challenge. She juggled various demanding senior positions at Sasol while completing her master’s in business and executive coaching.

She started her career at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), where she quickly worked up the ranks. “By the time I left the CCMA, I was the youngest CCMA commissioner ever appointed, at the age of 26,” she recalls. In fact, it was at the CCMA that she decided to pursue a career in HR.

“I just fell in love with the employer-employee relationship and how it evolves,” she explains. She found purpose in ensuring ethical HR practices after witnessing just how unjust both organisations and employees can be towards each other.

Tshidi was weighing up another offer when Weir Minerals came calling. What attracted her to Weir Minerals was the industry and the additional global exposure that came with it. “I am very clear about what I want in terms of my career, and that includes collecting as much global experience as possible,” she explains.

Now a few months into her role, her two immediate priorities are to implement the global HR management system Workday, a process for which they are already in the second phase, and employee wellbeing, “which is something that is close to Tshidi’s heart.”

Appreciate every role

After her tenure at the CCMA, Tshidi spent some time at National Treasury as the deputy director: labour relations before moving to Sasol, where she served in a variety of senior roles. She credits her 10-year journey at Sasol for some of the most effective sharpening of all of her HR skills, as well as some of her most challenging career moments.

Her tenure at Sasol also included a four-year international assignment to Nigeria serving as the country HR head. After Sasol, Tshidi joined Ecolab as the HR director; sub-Saharan Africa. Her last role before joining Weir Minerals was at British American Tobacco as the HR head.

“Looking back at my career, I appreciate each and every role I said yes to because all these different roles have helped me to become the fully-fledged and well-rounded HR leader I am today,” she reflects.

Understanding black female career choices

Tshidi says she always had an enquiring mind and wanted to pursue the highest academic medal through a doctoral degree to advance her research skills and deepen her expertise in the field of career development.

“I want to know and understand career choices, especially of black female executives,” she says. Her research, which is currently in the data collection phase, is also informed by looking deeper into the actual factors influencing those choices.

She has noticed that as the visibility of black female executives steadily grows, the actual career journeys of these black women into top management isn’t adequately examined. Therefore, she wants to explore the contextual factors that propel the career decisions of black women into top management positions.

She believes that her research findings can aid the broader HR community to grasp these individual experiences and tackle sluggish transformation so that more workplaces emphasise diversity and inclusivity.

Don’t balance, integrate

Her unapologetic hunger for growth in her personal, academic and career lives enables Tshidi to juggle the demands on her time, which includes being a wife, and mother of three. She says that she relies on a strong family support system, and says, “I don’t balance, I integrate.” She also jokes that she puts lipstick on when she is working from home to get into the professional mode.

Tshidi describes herself as focused, bold, highly energetic and extremely optimistic. She is also an advocate of positive psychology theory, and strongly believes that gratitude, social connection, and kindness are all important to living our best lives.

As she continues to set her sights on growing in her role at Weir Minerals, Tshidi says she feels energised by the possibilities that exist for HR professionals "as we ensure that the post-pandemic and technology-driven world of work remains distinctly human."