By Charndré Emma Kippie
What got you into the field you’re currently in?
I have spent most of my career in the FMCG industry in the commercial space – mostly in male dominated environments. I transitioned into HR a year ago and have no regrets. I am hugely passionate about people as I believe people are the foundation of success. I have always been able to absorb all I can on leadership, motivation and people at work so when I got the opportunity I leapt into HR. HR can have a profound impact on a company, not only shaping culture but also working with leadership to attract, develop, retain and manage talent which ultimately distinguishes one from your competitors.
What excites you the most about your role?
I love what I do, in HR you are constantly growing and changing. There is a bit of everything from law, technology, employee expectations, engagement. It is never boring and there is always something to challenge you.
In what ways do you think your organisation/business is enhancing the South African economy?
Kellogg is a food company that not only invests in its people but in our food products and we continuously innovate. We not only manufacture, market and sell our products but we also provide employment and create further opportunities through our learnership and intern programmes. Through our South African manufacturing facilities we export our food products to Africa. We source 70% of our raw materials for our cereal business locally and 98% of our products are produced locally. We are committed to environmental and social economic objectives. We are a responsible corporate citizen and through various initiatives we support our communities. We are a company with heart and soul and through our better days programme we feed people in need.
Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality?
There is a vast majority of females in HR and some of this stems from stereotypes about gender roles. This is one of the fields where female representation (even in executive positions) is more favourable than in other professions. There are various theories as to why this is, yet there are few barriers preventing men from finding HR jobs. However, when it comes to salaries, females are still being paid less than their male counterparts in this area and more can be done to create equality.
What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
- Empathy: incorporate this trait into your daily work and you will achieve the desired results to become an effective leader
- Strive to be a servant leader focusing primarily on the growth and well-being of your people. Put them first
- Prioritise your time: make your workspace work for you as this ultimately shapes your productivity and happiness at work and at home
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
Some of the obstacles, particularly in sales, relate to micro-aggressions and everyday sexism, male competence assumptions, imposter syndrome and not being treated equally. In order to overcome these you really need to believe in yourself, stand by your success and allow those around you to recognise it. Build your network, seek mentorship, sponsors and take advice from experts and don’t neglect those that stand behind you. In doing this you will gain confidence and you will be empowered to move forward.
What are your goals for the future?
Having a career and being a mom can be challenging and I want to be able to make a daily habit of spending quality time with all my kids even on my busiest days. I want to be able to recharge more and look forward to a future where we are able to travel and explore again. My long term career aspiration is to become a General Manager.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?
Don’t underestimate education, training and cross functional experience. Surround yourself with a good support system and don’t be afraid to network and build your confidence. There are times where you are going to need a really thick skin when it comes to criticism…but embrace feedback because even if there is 2% truth to what you are being told it will help you learn and grow. Always be prepared, this takes away anxiety, especially when you are faced with daunting and intimidating situations.
Do you have a special message for women across South Africa as we celebrate Women’s Month?
Let your passion burn brighter than your fear, not just today or in Women’s Month but every day. You really are amazing and you deserve to be celebrated, so take some time out and just celebrate you. As Eleanor Roosevelt says “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Go shine!
Dana Smith, Head of HR Corporate for Kellogg SA, is an experienced Channel Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer goods industry. Skilled in Key Account Management, Marketing Management, Customer Insight, Market Planning, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), and Customer Marketing. Dana is a strong business development professional with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (hons) focused in Marketing Communication/Media from the University of South Africa (Unisa). She also completed her LLB at Unisa.
She has worked at Kelloggs for more than 5 years. Kellogg’s was recently recognised as a Top Employer in South Africa, by the Top Employers Institute programme – certifying organisations based on the participation and results of their HR Best Practices Survey. This survey covers 6 HR domains consisting of 20 topics such as People Strategy, Work Environment, Talent Acquisition, Learning, Well-being and Diversity & Inclusion and more.
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