Basetsana Magano hails from Rustenburg in North West. Her first job was a teacher in a small village called Phokeng. She then moved on to work as a reservation clerk at Sun International Hotel at Sun City. In the early 1990s Basetsana began working for Bop Air (as it was known then) as the organisation endeavoured to implement transformation policy prior to 1994. She climbed the ladder very quickly and was promoted to General Manager Corporate Services, which kick-started her corporate career.

After holding a number of positions in the corporate world, including General Manager for HR at MTN, HR Director at Nike South Africa, HR Executive at Hewlett Packard and Group Executive General Management at Mutual and Federal, she started her own HR company in 2013, called Phetogo Consulting.

In your opinion, what is the status quo of transformation in the HR sector?
I believe that the HR sector is quite advanced in terms of transformation. There is always room for improvement, however, there is a large representation of black females in senior HR positions across all business sectors, except for mining, which remains a male-dominated sector.

When it comes to the role of HR in business, there is still some work to be done in terms of transforming the profession from an administrative or implementation role to a more strategic, advisory role. Traditionally, HR is not included in strategic sessions, but are expected to implement a plan without having an opportunity to influence that plan from the onset.

What is your vision regarding transformation in the HR sector in particular?
My vision is to see HR involved at an executive level, providing counsel directly to the CEO; where it is not merely an operational role, but one that can affect the strategic decision-making of the business.

The best competitive advantage that organisations can leverage is their people. Therefore, HR needs to have the foresight, together with the EXCO, to anticipate what the next trends will be, and how best to introduce these into the organisation to ensure employees are still performing effectively and that their skills sets are transformed so that they are still relevant in 3-5 years.

In the same way, HR needs to understand the business sector they are working in/consulting to, so that they are able to provide valuable strategic counsel based on knowledge of the particular organisation and its products and/or services and competitors.

Furthermore, transformation from a business point of view should go deeper than the number of black or female employees, or the placement of names within a company structure. If companies truly leverage the diversity of their workforce, the possibility of creating better products and delivering better services is greater.

What do you see as the critical steps we, as South Africans, need to take to create a South Africa that works?
We should focus on growing the economy, not building walls around ourselves. However, the solution is not one-sided. I believe it will take a combined effort from the education sector to improve the level of education, and the business sector to increase economic growth and employment opportunities.

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