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AfricaRecruit HR Newsletter


Published By AfricaRecruit HR Club June 2007  | Vol. 3 Issue 2


The Role of Human Resource Personnel in Emergencies:Mobilising People in Emergencies | Building Strategic Human Resource Alliances |Globalising Human Resources across the African Continent | African Banker | Sharing of Human Resource Policies | Findajobinafrica.com



Mobilising People in Emergencies: The Role of Non-Governmental, Private and Public Sector in Africa June 28-29th 2007, Kenya


Conference Overview

The conference organizers’ aim is to focus on solutions, lessons learnt and challenges of the ongoing programmes and concepts addressing Emergencies in Africa from the perspective of people/skills only.


Conference Aims and Objectives

  • Create a stimulating and interactive forum in which delegates and speakers can share experiences, ideas and best practice in the area of human resources and skills capacity
  • Influence or develop national, regional and international policies and strategies for the promotion of skills capacity in emergency
  • Promote an understanding and appreciation of the challenges and potential solutions
  • Engage all stakeholders in innovative solutions
  • Develop an action plan and next steps and sign up to practical steps in moving the agenda forward

Confirmed speakers include and organisations:

  • Hon Musa Ecweru, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness & Refugees, Uganda
  • The Commonwealth Secretariat, London
  • Martin Ndirangu, Disaster Preparedness Office in Government of Kenya
  • James Du Plooy, Capital Outsourcing Group, South Africa
  • Dag Nielsen, Director of the Ericsson Response Programme
  • Mr Lawrence Ndombi, Human Resource Director, Unilever
  • Sheila Fraser, Accenture Development Partnership
  • Victor Ako Mengot, Transaid's Regional Programmes Manager for East Africa
  • Jacqueline Mugo, Federation of Kenya Employers
  • Ms. Shannon McGuire, HR Emergencies Specialist, Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, UNICEF
  • Jacqueline Rugayo, International Staffing Specialist - East Africa Region, World Vision
  • Nilufa Shariff, Aga Khan University
  • Noroarisoa Rakotondrandria, Regional Programme Officer, United Nations - International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Africa
  • Disaster Management Department, Office of National Security, Department of Sierra Leone
  • National Emergency Management Agency, Nigeria
  • Kenyan Red Cross

For details and how to register kindly visit www.africarecruit.com


Thoughts from Building Strategic Human Resource Alliances


One of the biggest challenges facing Human Resources managers is the dire need to re-position human resources’ services so that they represent a strategic alliance with the other core business departments within the organisation.  There has never been any doubt as to the business relevance of departments such as Sales and Marketing; Production; Distribution, Finance, etc but despite many decades of trying to pull itself out of the “back-rooms” of business operations, HR still has a long way to go to leverage itself as a strategic business partner.


The first challenge is to get HR practitioners to recognise what ‘strategic partner” means – for HR itself. Too many current practitioners feel that the term ‘strategic HR business partner’ denotes a job title and not the business concept that it really is. The key word in the new catch-phrase is “strategic”, which means inter alia planned, tactical, calculated, deliberate, premeditated and intentional. It denotes that the (HR) partnership or alliance that is forged must be well thought out and purposefully built on key business elements that will assist the business in achieving its objectives. It’s less about the core elements of HR and more about the consolidated and deliberate coming together of departments to achieve the desired business goals, albeit by implementing department specific initiatives.


So what is holding HR back? In many cases, businesses fail to recognise the strategic role that HR can play within the organisation. By holding on to the image of HR as a back-office, reactionary, administrative-unit businesses deprive themselves of the opportunity of human resource excellence. HR practitioners, themselves, also have to take some accountability for the poor image of HR - for despite the understanding by some practitioners that HR desperately needs to change, few know how.


The HR paradigm needs to shift in order for HR to strategically align with the business – which in turn will facilitate a change of business mindset about the value of HR. What is needed now is a guideline that spells out the way forward for HR and that describes the core elements of a ‘strategic HR alliance’. This would provide at the very least, a benchmark against which embryonic HR partnerships can grow and develop.

Guideline 1: HR needs to understand the business


It is simply not enough for HR to understand what the business does. Knowing the organisation’s products and services does not enable strategic partnerships. It’s knowing how and why the organisation does what it does, that enables HR to fully understand the nature of the business. The organisation’s mission, vision and values; the business strategy; the business plan as well as the core business drivers need to be fully understood by HR. In addition, HR needs to gain an in-depth understanding of the organisation’s value chain as a whole, as well as a solid understanding of each link within that chain. Without this comprehensive understanding of the business, HR will remain a peripheral player in the business game.


Guideline 2: HR needs to be involved


Allied to understanding the business, HR needs to be involved – in all aspects of business functioning. A true HR professional understands all elements of the business, rather than just HR. Whilst it’s inconceivable that key business decisions would be taken without direct involvement of departments such as Sales, Production, Distribution, etc every day key business decisions are made without the involvement of HR. It’s a two-way street though – for HR to be involved with and by the business, HR needs to be able to make meaningful contribution. And therein lies the rub – to be involved, HR needs to be seen to be adding significant business value (as a strategic business partner) rather than an administrative entity.


Guideline 3: HR needs to be proactive


The perception of an HR business partner is a fickle thing. It often depends on whom one speaks to as to what definition one gets. But that in itself describes the nature of HR partnerships. It’s all about proactively defining what each business partner needs – from an HR perspective - to achieve their business objectives. So it’s perfectly conceivable that the kind of HR service provided to Sales at any given time may be very different to that needed by Production during the same period. The only way to know what each department’s needs are – is to ask. Proactively set about meeting with key stakeholders to discuss their needs, both current and future. HR needs to be proactive - in finding out departmental needs and deliberately planning solutions - with the business partners. To do that well, HR needs to be able to talk through business issues in a way that reflects a good understanding of not only the business but also the available HR solutions


Guideline 4: HR needs to be empowered


If HR is to be a strategic business partner, it stands to reason that HR needs to be fully empowered. It is astounding that in many organisations HR still does not have a voice on the Board. In this day and age when HR issues often make or break an initiative – and can carry severe legislative-led implications – it is imperative that HR is given the empowerment it needs to develop into a strategic business partner that controls and guides the management of employees. Of course, in return HR practitioners need to be held fully accountable for their actions (or non-actions) and must be able to show business intent for their decision-making.


Guideline 5: HR needs to use business as a backdrop


It is not enough that HR understands the business and its drivers. HR needs to learn to talk the business talk. This implies that HR must understand how to interpret HR data so that it is meaningful to the business and, conversely, how to take business information and interpret it so that it makes HR sense. All HR assessments and reporting should be done against the backdrop of the prevailing business drivers, and should clearly identify consequences for the organisation both immediate and future.


Guideline 6: HR needs to be professional


In order for HR to be identified by the business as a strategic partner, there needs to be a clearly defined standard by which practitioners operate. Empowerment and accountability are good words indeed, but they demand from HR practitioners a certain level of functioning that leads to the entitlement of credibility in a business sphere. The debate whether HR should be professionals or not rages on, but certainly there is a dire need for HR standards. The truth is self-evident – HR needs to provide organisations with a professional service. In this case professional implies a solid understanding of the business and its drivers; an expert-level understanding of the full gamut of HR (or a specialised branch thereof) and the link to the achievement of business objectives; and an in-depth understanding of the acceptable standards by which HR solutions must be implemented within an organisation. Organisations need to demand that HR practitioners are able to meet the challenge of building – and maintaining – a strategic HR alliance with their business units.


It is clear that the ideal HR business partnership is still a way off for some organisations. The time is right for HR practitioners to take a long, hard look at the way HR is positioned within their organisations and use these guidelines to start the metamorphosis that will lead HR out of the back-office and into the Boardroom.


Janine Nieuwoudt
Managing Director
BMT Dimensions


Janine is one of the presenters at the HR West Africa Summit which is hosted by the Institute for International Research and will be held at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana from 20 – 22 August 2007. Further details can be obtained from Stella at (27) (11) 771 7122 or at www.hrafrica.com/westafrica



Globalising Human Resources across the African Continent
20-22nd August
Labadi Beach Hotel
Accra Ghana


the new quarterly magazine on banking and finance in Africa.
First Issue: June 2007


The Magazine :African Banker is a new quarterly magazine dedicated to banking and finance in Africa. It covers news from the banking, finance, insurance, stock markets, currency, capital markets, direct and indirect financial investment sectors. It taps into the growing demand for information about Africa’s banking and financial world.


The Launch: African Banker has been launched at the African Development Bank annual meeting in Shanghai, China. It is also distributed free with the June issue of African Business magazine. The second issue will be published in October 2007 to coincide with the World Bank/IMF meeting and the African Banker Awards in Washington


The Contents: African Banker Summer 2007 issue includes:

  • Interview with Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank
  • Interview with Nkosana Moyo of Actis
  • Profile of the newly created African Finance Corporation
  • Profile of Cecilia Ibru, Managing Director of Oceanic Bank
  • Interview with Tutu Agyare, head of Emerging Marked at UBS
  • New Appointments and news from the African Banking world.

FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION AND CONTENTS visit www.africanbankermagazine.com





Sharing of Human Resources Policies and Best Practices

Think of the last time you wrote a policy; did you ever wonder whether someone had written it before? How much time would you save to have access to others policies and in turn share your policies for others to benefit?


The People In Aid Policy Bank can help Non-Governmental, Private and Public sectors share policies and practices in Africa.


People In Aid – a not-for-profit organisation promoting good practice in people management -encourages you to share your company policies so that humanitarian and development agencies and other sectors in Africa can benefit. Equally, as contributors you too can enjoy access to both African and global policies. 


Are you tired of re-inventing the wheel or perhaps you have some great policies to share? Please email (Maduri@peopleinaid.org) for details.




Online job portal  www.findajobinafrica.com  A one stop job search engine for Africa connecting recruiters in Africa with jobseekers inside and outside Africa


Jobs in Africa in all industry used by recruiters to target local; repatriates and expatriates for details kindly visit www.findajobinafrica.com



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