Pam welcomes me with a warm smile and a hug because we used to be colleagues in another life. Pam has been with HEINEKEN South Africa since April 2016. Her role in HEINEKEN is in some respects very different from the structured environment at her previous employer. “I love the entrepreneurial spirit here,” enthuses Pam. “It’s a breath of fresh air which brings exciting challenges.” Her role encompasses Change, Talent and Leadership. “I enjoy having the freedom to think, and the flexibility to change things in this agile and intuitive environment
Growing up in a small town in KZN, Pam was the youngest of 4 girls and has her Master’s in Industrial Psychology from Wits. Her experience of Johannesburg left her wanting more – Jozi definitely has a special place in her heart.
She started her career at as an intern at SABMiller. She later moved to Durban, where she looked after human resources for two manufacturing plants. That was her first leadership experience. She summarises her approach: tenacity and willingness to learn – “There’s always more to learn,” she muses.
After gaining experience in the sales and distribution side of the business where she leads HR for a large region, she moved into Organisational Development and later joined Deloitte as a senior Management Consultant. “The consulting experience really helped me to professionalise my style,” she tells me. “I had the opportunity to work with companies like Sasol, the SABC and City Power, which gave me great exposure and project management experience. She later re-joined SAB in OD which included custodianship of Performance Management for the Africa region (17 countries). The call from HEINEKEN came at the end of 2015, and she took up the opportunity for a new challenge.
“Who has been the person who has had the biggest influence on your professional development?” I ask. After a moment’s thought, she says, “One of my first managers very early in my career. I learnt the importance of integrating HR into the business for relevance and impact. HR should always be embedded in the strategy of the Business and be positioned as a key enabler – speak the language of business. It’s about proving yourself, being agile and flexible and anticipating what the business needs with innovative and progressive solutions.” Pam is proud of her career, and rightly so. She has built a great track record through sustainable solutions. It has taken integrity and hard work.
At my question about what she does for fun outside of work, she gives a little laugh. “I like to try different and new things but mainly enjoy Pilates for fitness and relaxation – most recently I’ve learnt how to ride a bicycle! I just never prioritised it but has always been on my bucket list!” She also enjoys travelling to new places and most recently visited Thailand, Vietnam and India.
Pam reads articles to stay up to date with what happens in the industry. “I’ve recently read ‘The untethered soul’ by Michael A Singer. It has great insights on living in gratitude and liberating ourselves from our own boundaries. I like to challenge myself continuously.”
“What raises you up when you’re down?” I ask. “Keeping things in perspective and staying focused.”
Her advice to young people is to “Try different things, take risks but know who you are, and remain grounded.”
“What is your challenge to corporate South Africa?” I ask. “Leaders in corporate South Africa have the opportunity to work together collaboratively for the growth of our economy and country as a whole – we need to actively seek synergies for the betterment of our country.”