Power to the people

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Lawrence Mlotshwa is an experienced human resources (HR) executive who understands that organisations are only as good as the people who work for them.

"My work and responsibilities are to lead the Absa Group to pre-eminence through exceptional people practices with the support and passion of a high performing HR team," he said.

"Initially I wanted to be a medical doctor but I changed my focus before I started my studies. I understood the importance of people development early in my studies and realised that I wanted to use my talent and skill where I could truly help people realise their full potential."

Mlotshwa started his career with Unilever. Following a successful career in human resources, he decided to broaden his business experience and knowledge by branching out to sales and marketing functions where he spent three years. Mlotshwa then joined Sun International as group human resources manager.

After a short period with Sun International, he was headhunted by Nedcor bank where he worked as an assistant general manager and the head of human resources. After six years at Nedcor he joined Absa Bank as the general manager of specialist services.

Within a year Mlotshwa was promoted to the group executive role in people management. In 2005 he was appointed group organisational development director where he played a key role in the integration of Barclays and Absa.

Last year Mlotshwa assumed the role of group executive of human resources, taking on the entire human resources function for Absa in Africa.

He holds a BA (Psychology) HED from the University of Ford Hare and an MBA from Henley Management College in the United Kingdom. Mlotshwa has also completed programmes with Harvard and University of Cape Town Business Schools.

"Education has its place and relevance in any role; however, I have learnt that nothing trumps experience. I would encourage all those who are interested in this profession to equip themselves with relevant qualifications as it contributes to a more fulfilling profession," said Mlotshwa.

To excel in the job one also needs to be resilient. "The current economic climate is a challenge, yet it presents human resources with opportunities. During an economic downturn our single biggest task is to keep our workforce motivated and productive," he said.

"The availability of skilled resources is a challenge the HR profession should not miscalculate. HR professionals should be consumed with the recruitment and development of high performing, high potential employees. South Africa is experiencing a brain drain and much of our top talent works outside the country. This is an indication of how popular our people and their work ethic are, but it leaves us limp as a country.

We need to make sure that we not only develop but also retain our top talent in the country. We need to engage with them intimately, understand what makes them tick and adapt our workplace practices so they remain with our brand and in the country," said Mlotshwa.