The woman behind impressive reform strategy talks transforming boardroom and office culture.
For almost ten years, Lindelwe Kunene has been an integral part of Nashua’s leadership team. Her position as the first black female director of South Africa’s leading business solutions provider has kick-started impressive reform within the business and helped to develop a formidable work force.
Having worked under the auspices of Trevor Manuel at the National Treasury and Reunert subsidiary, Circuit Breaker Industries, Kunene says she considers her role at Nashua her toughest and most fulfilling yet.
Transformation every day
Kunene describes Nashua’s transformation policy as two-fold – across skills and equity candidates respectively. The business solutions powerhouse fosters skills, while still focusing on supporting female candidates of colour. But according to Kunene, being a woman of colour in an executive position still has its challenges.
“A meeting can present a certain culture shock because it’s no longer just ‘the guys’ around the table,” explains Kunene. “I do feel I have to prove myself sometimes. But we’re definitely on the right track – I see transformation at Nashua every day, and that is what’s most important.”
As a single mother, balancing work and home is a considerable task for Kunene. For many years, her daughter lived with her parents, hours outside of Johannesburg – a situation that’s far from unique for many single mothers in South Africa. On her days off, Kunene would religiously drive to her parents home to spend time with her daughter – sometimes just for a day at a time.
She maintains it was this phase of her life that laid the foundation for her approach to finding the right work-life balance. “Living apart from my daughter taught me perseverance, gratitude and the importance of planning”, says Kunene. “Now, no matter how busy I am, I know it’s always possible to prioritise quality time.”
Kunene’s key objective when she joined Nashua in 2006 was to nurture an inspired workforce. At the time, the company was on a mission to revive staff morale and encourage transformation.
Some of the most meaningful initiatives introduced under Kunene’s guidance – and her personal passion projects – include the introduction of Nashua’s values titled RECCAP; which stands for Respect, Excellence, Courage, Change, Accountability and Passion. RECCAP has played a key role in defining the behavioural qualities Nashua employees should strive for.
The second project is Nashua Life. The programme focuses on offering trauma, legal and debt counselling for employees and their families.
“I’ve worked in HR for so long that people naturally open up to me about their personal lives”, explains Kunene. “I realised early on in my career that I don’t have all the answers – that’s why it’s vital to have initiatives like Nashua Life in place.”
Just getting started
Kunene is determined to achieve much more during her time at Nashua. “I know my work isn’t done yet, and that drives me,” she says. “I also have a responsibility to my daughter – her energy helps me wake up and think: I’m going to take over the world today.”