|On the cover|
Fergus on the facts
Following media reports of multiple departures from ABSA’s executive team, HR Future asked ABSA’s Chief Human Resources Executive for the inside story. By Fergus Marupen
Attracting and retaining the right talent, especially at a senior executive level is paramount to enable the delivery of strategic business objectives. Strong leadership is required to navigate the complexities of the challenging global economic and business landscape whilst staying connected with local markets and customers. This especially holds true in the financial services industry with regulatory requirements; competitiveness and consumerism on the rise.
However, leaders are also people with dreams and aspirations for their own lives and that of their families. Many factors and variables are at play when senior executives review their career path to determine that next step.
There has been much said in the media earlier this year about the departure of three executives at ABSA and speculation about the fact that there may be more controversial reasons for their decisions to leave. Although the reasons for each individual’s decision to leave are very different and personal, the congruent timing thereof has potentially resulted in the speculation.
It is a far less exciting prospect to consider that these executives all had very specific reasons for taking a different direction in their careers after a long tenure at ABSA. Their imminent departures were not a surprise as career conversations over many months preceded the announcement. The changes also offered us the opportunity to transition the ABSA senior executive portfolios towards a more customer-focused leadership structure for the future.
In the case of Daphne Motsepe, early retirement has been on the cards for some time with an agreed date set early last year. Our planning to integrate our Retail and Business Bank provided the ideal platform for the integration of Daphne’s Unsecured Lending portfolio to deliver a more streamlined customer service delivery model.
Any senior executive looks at their future career prospects and weighs up new opportunities against whether he or she has achieved what they have set out to do in their current role. One can safely say that Happy Ntshingila, our then Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, has delivered on his goals. During his tenure, the ABSA brand received various industry accolades, notably the No.1 Banking Brand and Coolest Bank awards. Happy was intimately involved in the bank’s acquisition of a number of sponsorship properties, particularly in rugby and soccer. His passion for sport has led to his decision to take on a new role as the Chief Executive Officer of SuperSport – a great fit for his personality, ambitions and personal interests.
Personal considerations such as family commitments and finding new challenges in the workplace have prompted Alfie Naidoo to consider new career opportunities whilst taking some time out.
They have all contributed significantly to ABSA and have all left a legacy they can be proud of. Their commitment to the organisation and the people they led and worked alongside has been evident throughout this process. So, despite the focus the media has placed on their departures, they were all undertaken with much respect and consideration.
As new people step into leadership positions, such as Bobby Malabie who took on the role as Chief Executive of ABSA Retail and Business Banking last year, they offer new insight and fresh thinking. Although we may feel the loss of people who were valued in our organisation, we can also benefit from having new leaders who bring different perspectives and experiences to the table.
Succession planning is of utmost importance, especially in large businesses and at ABSA it is always a pivotal focus. Harnessing the skills base within the organisation whilst also looking for the right talent outside the business ensures a healthy succession pipeline.
We’ve recently announced that our Deputy Group Chief Executive, Louis von Zeuner, will move into a non-executive role in the Group from January 2013 onwards. He has committed to devoting 60% of his time to ABSA with effect from next January. We have also agreed with Louis to spend some of his time mentoring our young talent, which will ensure that many of our aspiring senior leaders will benefit from Louis’ extensive experience.
Our success hinges on the people we have working for us. While individuals, especially in executive positions, play a significant role, it is the collective that is so significant in ensuring success. Our focus as a Human Resources team this year is thus to ensure that our people are well equipped for the journey they have ahead of them and understand the change our organisation is going through in realigning its business to better suit our customers’ needs.
We have a strong team steering our organisation and we are ensuring that our talent across all levels of the Group are championing the journey.
Fergus Marupen is the Chief Human Resources Executive at Absa, www.absa.co.za.