Tell us a bit about yourself
My full name is Sizile Aurelia Thulisile Tabudi, but everyone calls me Thuli. I am a mother of four beautiful children: Andile, Thato, Nompumelelo and my youngest, Zanda.
I completed my Secretarial Diploma and whilst working as a Secretary, I enrolled with the University of South Africa (UNISA) to complete my Bachelor of Administration (BAdmin) degree. I then went on to do my BAdmin Honours, followed by my Masters and PhD degrees at the University of Johannesburg.
I love running, playing netball and hiking to try and keep fit. In 2016, I reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – something that had always been a dream of mine.
Talk us through your career development
I have been in the retail industry for 24 years and worked for various large companies before joining SPAR in 1999. I started in a middle management position and have worked my way up to my current position as the SPAR South Africa Group HR Executive, based at the central office in Pinetown, just inland of Durban. Before this, I held the positions of HR Manager and Divisional HR Director. In 2019, I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary with SPAR!
Can you run us through your average day at work?
My job entails ensuring that our HR offering is aligned with the Group strategy and contributes towards executing the Group objectives. This includes ensuring that we source talent and provide the Group with a skilled workforce – both at retail and warehouse level.
In addition to providing a skilled workforce, we focus on leadership development as this is key in driving the organisational goals. Ensuring that our leaders are well trained contributes immensely to our leadership base. Our job is to make sure that we foster good relations between management and employees so as to minimise any negative impacts on the business.
We continuously strive to remain an employer of choice and this entails benchmarking ourselves against the industry and ensuring that we offer competitive salaries and benefits. We are also tasked with ensuring compliance with the prevailing laws in all areas of Human Resources. We were recently awarded the Top Employers South Africa 2018 certification for the fifth time. This is an annual programme that certifies organisations that successfully demonstrate an exceptional HR environment.
What are the challenges that you face in your role?
The key challenges are the war for top talent, the skills shortage in certain areas, succession planning in the wake of baby boomers exiting, and balancing the need to invest more in HR with the reality of the economic difficulties faced by the organisation and the country as a whole.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The biggest reward is knowing that I work for a great company. This I know because I have worked for many other large corporates and I can legitimately do the comparisons. I enjoy seeing people become the best they can be and knowing that in some small way, I have played a part. I am passionate about mentoring and coaching and I’m privileged to be involved in programmes aimed at investing in local communities through our various social initiatives.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I am grateful that prior to joining SPAR I worked on the shop floor and therefore even as an HR person, I understand the impacts of my decisions at a store level. When I joined SPAR, I was based in the Warehouse as the HR Manager and got to understand the Warehouse Operations, which are absolutely vital to our business. This experience has meant that even in my current role, I don’t lose sight of the overall business operations. Starting my SPAR career in the South Rand Division was the best thing for me as it has allowed me to always remember that as a support office, we exist to provide guidance to the Divisions.
What advice would you give to others reading this?
I believe in constantly developing myself and building good strategic relationships. When I’m not sure, I ask for help. I’d say, take any opportunities that are given to you, learn from your mistakes and strive to remain true to yourself.
How does the future look?
I love what I do and I wake up every morning aware of the opportunities still available to me. I am currently finishing a Coaching Diploma and I’m looking forward to using this knowledge to ensure that training becomes an accessible tool for developing our employees. The possibilities of what coaching can do are endless and I’m excited about the impact that it can have on leadership development at various levels of the organisation.
This story was first published in Issue 2 2018 of our quarterly magazine, Contact International.
To read more stories from this edition, follow this link.