From a waitress to HR manager

From a waitress to HR manager

MASERU – ‘Makatleho Mofokeng was only eleven years when her father passed away.
Without the financial security and stability that a father brings, Mofokeng quickly learnt to fend for herself. She also quickly learnt that although she was still young, she could also support her mother.
And so from a very young age, Mofokeng would work part-time in a neighbour’s grocery shop during the holidays.

The little she got went a long way in helping her mother keep the wolf away.
When Mofokeng completed her high school in 2000, there was no money to pay for her university education after she failed to secure sponsorship from the national education fund.
With no money, she found herself stuck once again in no-man’s land.
Instead of sitting down and sobbing herself into depression, Mofokeng refused to allow such negativity to put her down. So she took any job that came her way.

That is how she found herself working at Nando’s, a popular chicken grill take-away, as a waitress. She worked at Nando’s for a year.
“It was a difficult job. I had no social life, I worked night shift and life was very difficult for me,” she says.
Yet through those dark days of her life, Mofokeng always kept her dream alive. That dream was to pursue education and make a success of her life.

And so in 2002, Mofokeng finally secured sponsorship from the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) and enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Industrial Psychology and Management at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.
It was a choice that would soon open doors to greater things in life for her.
She says she picked industrial psychology and management because she “had always wanted to understand people so that she could serve them better”.

When she completed her studies in 2004, Mofokeng first worked at Astoria Bakery for two years as a human resources manager. She also worked at Maluti Mountain Brewery as a human resources specialist.
She also worked as Head of HR at FNB and Econet Telecom Lesotho. Mofokeng was appointed Human Resources Manager at Kao Mine in September last year.
As HR Manager, Mofokeng says the perception out there is that their job is “to hire and fire people only”.

That is entirely not true, she says.
“My job is basically to look after the human capital resource,” she says.
“I am here to make sure that the people, who are human capital resource, are well taken care of in terms of services and that the environment is conducive for them to carry out their duties.”
She also makes sure that there are structures, policies and training programmes that retain and train skills to ensure that Kao Mine becomes the employer of choice in the mining industry.

Isn’t this a huge task on the frail shoulders of a 36-year-old woman?
Mofokeng says she is not unnerved by the task at hand as she has always loved the challenge of serving people.
“Making their work environment better getter gives me real pleasure,” she says.
Mofokeng says since the talent pool for technical skills is very small in Lesotho, she has quickly learnt that the fight within the industry can be very intense.

What has helped her quickly find her feet within the mining industry is the fact that she is a very assertive individual, thanks to the toughening experience she went through during her formative years.
That has helped her assert her authority, even though she is a woman.
“I am very firm in how I present myself and I have found both males and females to be very receptive especially when you know your story,” she says.

One must also address issues that arise at work with professionalism and understanding, she says.
“I always try to let management understand that I am looking after people and that this is not always a black and white issue. The human element is not always black and white. We need to balance the emotional issue.”
As a young woman, Mofokeng says she would advise young girls never to take no for an answer in their pursuit of success.

“When one door closes, there is always an opportunity. It can be an opportunity to learn from that closed door or an opportunity to think outside the box.”
She says throughout her career, she has always looked for opportunities and “have made connections that open doors for me”.

Own Correspondent

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