When I Grow Up – Bold & Beautiful African Dreams

On a cold winter afternoon in Maseru, dancing my heart away, belting out the chorus of one of my favorite childhood songs, “I love you daddy, you are my hero, you are my superstar” by eighties pop star Ricardo. I looked up, and there he was, the first love of my life, an audience of one, my dad, standing by the window sill, witnessing what I can call one of the most beautiful and precious moments of his life. I stopped singing, and he asked me to come and help him pack the fire place. Lesotho winters are brutally cold, so to warm ourselves up in the living room, on a daily basis, we had to make a coal fire. As we put the layers; paper, cardboard, wood then coal, dad asked the question, “Nkhono, what do you want to be when you grow up?”. I hesitated and seeing as my dad was my favorite person in the world, I wanted to be just like him, “a doctor” I said, he was impressed, then I added “and a singer too”, dad chuckled.

 “That’s not a real job, it’s a hobby”. So of course I counted all the singers I knew. But ultimately my dad convinced me that every single subject that I took after school, was an extra-curricular activity, things that I could do to pass time, like dancing, painting, singing and taking pictures ~ which I loved and got straight A’s for, but my father focused on Mathematics, Science and English grades. Those are the only ones that really mattered on a school report. “To be a doctor, you need maths and science” he would always say.

As a recruiter, during interviews, listening to people answer the question “Tell me about yourself ?”, I picked up that 9 out of 10 times candidates selected their career paths, based on a successful relative or person in their community. “Aunt Josephina was the first black female Chartered Accountant in our neighborhood, she has a double-story house and a BMW X5. That’s how I knew I wanted to be an Accountant”, was a common response. My follow up question was usually, “Growing up, what did you want to be?”, and most candidates have no idea. Then I probed further by asking what they loved to do, what comes naturally to them, what single activity they can get lost in, without feeling  time pass, something that they do easily and others praise them for doing it so easily.

After 11 years in recruitment, having conducted more interviews than I can remember, I can tell you that, 99% of the people that I have met, are winging it, and have pretty much studied whatever course they were told their high school grades would get them into. I truly believe that one of the reasons people are unhappy at work, is because they don’t enjoy what they do. Some people were simply told to go and become Engineer’s because they would guaranteed a job when they graduated, and get paid a lot of money. After all the hard work, sweat, tears and cheating at University, they come out into a world that is flooded with their skill set, and realize that there is no such thing as “job security”. I dare say that, in Africa our career choices are driven by poverty and politics, we just want to cover the basics. We do not have the luxury of dreaming, our reality determines what we will do to earn a living. 

Which is why, I find the Ikigai concept particularly interesting. According to Gallup,Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck – they want a purpose. For millennials, work must have meaning. Their compensation is important and must be fair, but they’re motivated more by mission and purpose than paycheck (2019). In the same way that we want to work for companies whose values align to our own. We should pursue our Ikigai – find that single thing that we love, that we are good at, can get paid for, and definitely something that the world needs. And then find those companies whose purpose matches our own. I believe this would create the synergies that we need between workers, in order to create socially cohesive workplaces, and could potentially be an explosive culture transformation model for organisations’. Purpose driven hires, for purpose driven companies, to create meaning for all.

When I grow up, I want to live a life in pursuit of my God given purpose!!


Published by BlockHead

A Human Resources Practitioner with a blended knowledge of HR; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Talent Acquisition Management as well as Employer Branding and Employee Value Proposition. Enthusiastic and outgoing, an innovator who is continuously aware of new possibilities with a penchant for discovering different but effective ways of doing things. I gain motivation from the ability to not only generate but implement ideas. A visionary with a positive mindset which often carries others with me. Forever interested in seeing the possibilities, particularly in people, within and beyond the present moment. My key strengths lie in consulting with business to understand how HR activities can contribute to business strategy execution. Passionate about the digital landscape and have successfully implemented Digital Talent Acquisition Strategies for various organisations. I totally believe that healthy organisation culture is a competitive game changer, and strive to help shape companies to attract and retain the best people to meet their mission and grow their vision. As an experienced Talent Acquisition Manager with a documented history of working in HR across various industries in South Africa, as well as other countries on the African continent including Kenya and Nigeria, I know that Africa has incredible talent, and I am excited to play a role in unleashing the best in people across the corporate world. Simply put...I love what I do! In my spare time, I am an avid participant in various activities hosted by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), and a regular contributor to their Blog including taking part in their weekly “Next Chat” on twitter. This is a global platform hosted by SHRM that has people from all facets of HR sharing ideas, knowledge and learning on the specific topic chosen for the week. This June, I will be speaking at the annual conference #SHRM19 which is being held in Las Vegas.

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