Carol Hondonga

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Carol Hondonga is a Doctor of Applied Leadership candidate. She holds a Master of Business Leadership from The University of South Africa as well as a BSc in Economics (Honors) from the University of Zimbabwe. Professionally, as well as being a part-time lecturer at MANCOSA South Africa, she holds the position of Senior Director of Talent Acquisition for General Electric South Africa. Prior to this she was the Principal Advisor of Talent Acquisition and Management at RIO TINTO in London, UK and Montreal, Canada.

by
Rodney Rumbidzai Chawota
rodney@houseofmutapa.com

To nurture and grow an international career demands that one has amongst other things, foresight, an open mind, a keen eye for opportunity and spontaneity. Quite a cocktail of characteristics but, corporate queen Carol Hondonga has managed to work all of these traits to carve a cross-continental career. How did she start?

Well, she was born and raised in Harare, the third of four children. Her father was an educator and her mother a retired senior hospital matron, and together they instilled in her the principles of hard work, humility, resilience and courage. After a private high school education then university, she embarked on a career in banking first as an economist before transitioning to human resources. After 15 years, she then relocated with her family to South Africa.

Aceing Academia

Carol has a BSc in Economics from the University of Zimbabwe which she supplemented with further studies in banking and public relations. She also has a Diploma in Human Resources from IPMZ and a Masters in Business Leadership from UNISA SBL. From UNISA she also completed a postgraduate qualification in applied organization development. She
recently completed a qualification in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University and is currently studying for a Doctorate in Applied Leadership and Coaching with Monarch Business School in Switzerland.

From Banking to Talent Acquisition

“I’ve been fortunate to enjoy most of my roles in my career so far but I’d say coming back to Africa to lead talent acquisition for GE Africa has been the most enjoyable. This role gave me the opportunity to consolidate my international and regional experience and skills in a global organisation that is driving the growth of Africa into power, healthcare, aviation
and digital prowess.” According to Carol, talent acquisition is an ongoing people strategy to find, engage, select and hire internal and external talent to execute an organisation’s strategy. Africa being a diverse continent has countries at different stages of maturity in this space. Some of the factors influencing this are economic development, the availability
and quality of human capital in terms of depth of relevant skills and technology. The employer brand is also front of mind for prospective talent. Improvements in how organisations acquire talent are visible with a positive trajectory. World class practice would see talent acquisition being integrated in a holistic talent strategy from hire to retire/rehire.

A Word on Leadership

“Leadership is not restricted to job titles. Everyone is a leader of self and/or others. A good leader must first be self-aware and be self-directed to lead themselves before they can effectively lead others. This allows a leader to be authentic”

In Carol’s opinion, the key values that leaders need to espouse are integrity, trust, being human, inclusiveness, intelligence and creativity. For her, leadership allows people the freedom to determine how they deliver and is not about micromanaging. “Good leaders build lifetime respect and followers.”

Zimbabwe and the Move Back to Africa

Carol still has hope in Zimbabwe – ‘our house of stone’. Despite its prolonged challenges she believes Zimbabweans are a resilient people.

“We may be down but never out of the game. We shall not be broken. Wherever we all are around the world, collectively we are so rich in terms of human capital. Finding ways to harness this to rebuild our nation will serve us well”

Carol has worked in various countries, but she, like a number of Zimbabweans with her mindset, has also moved back home. It’s a decision that some still find daunting but she believes that it has to be part of one’s career plan. Her own plan was to start in Zimbabwe,
grow into a sub-regional role, then a pan-African then a global one. With God’s grace, hard work and supportive leaders she was able to achieve this moving to work in South Africa, the UK and Canada. It was whilst in Canada that she felt she’d gathered sufficient international exposure for her to go back to Africa and be part of building the continent’s
legacy by helping drive its growth.

She returned first to Kenya for a few years and then went back to South Africa where she is now. Carol believes that good opportunities are out there if one is intentional by keeping abreast of what’s happening on the continent, networking with purpose and making oneself visible by having a professional digital/online footprint.

Striking a Balance

With such a successful career and being a mother Carol has to manage both professional and personal relationships. Professionally, it’s important to cultivate relationships throughout one’s career.

“Seek out people who can mentor you and others
aligned to your areas of expertise for knowledge sharing.
These can be local and global”

However, balance is important and personal relationships can suffer if they don’t get attention too.

The key is to be mindful of this and simply prioritise nurturing that balance. One thing she wants for her children is that they continue to work hard, believe in themselves and sow the seeds their future selves will be grateful for. Once they keep grounded in faith the opinions of others do not matter.

What drives Carol? Well, she’s motivated when the work she does allows her to achieve her purpose and help the organisation deliver on its vision. She likes being given room to show her expertise and deliver results…and when her team is also able to assume responsibility, be agile in execution and grow and have fun – she is excited.

“New challenges or opportunities to continue to learn
and grow also energise me”

As for Carol’s mantra and advice for those who want to climb the ladder in any arena – “Be intentional, always seek excellence, continuously learn, appreciate great leaders and grow and inspire others.”

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