Diverse talent solutions. African Partnerships you can depend on.

C-suite’s digital solution to maintaining vital networks


Connecting with like-minded people to broaden our parameters of success is an age-old practice, writes *Annelize van Rensburg, Director at Signium Africa. Now, though, we’re navigating unprecedented times – which call for new ways to engage in building robust business relationships.

Finding our feet during the global pandemic has required business leaders to tap into their collective agility, while maintaining stability within their organisations. Some have been fortunate enough to retain their resources, while others have had to make tough decisions.

Pre-pandemic networking often saw the C-suite getting together with their peers at an intimate breakfast, conference or even a golf day. Covid-19 not only changed the conversation, but also way in which we could maintain those vital connections.

Talk turned to the virus, effects of lockdown on the economy, and re-opening markets safely – and all this networking had to be done virtually.

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#LockdownLessons: Keep it flexible, find the balance and remember - you're not alone

As part of our #LockdownLessons series, Bizcommunity is reaching out to South Africa's top industry players to share their experience of the current Covid-19 crisis, how their organisations are navigating these unusual times, where the challenges and opportunities lie, and their industry outlook for the near future.


Here we talk to Michelle Moss, director of assessments at Signium Africa, to get her take.

BizcommunityHow has the Covid-19 lockdown changed your typical working day?

Michelle Moss: The team has been working harder than ever in terms of longer hours and quicker delivery for our clients. We save time by not travelling to work and meetings during the day and that time is now being spent behind our screens. The downside is that we are probably driving ourselves too hard and we need to find a sustainable pace. We are a people business and while we are still interacting with people all the time, we are doing it virtually rather than in person.

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Does artificial intelligence challenge corporate governance and the South African legal framework?

Harmony Gold Board Members 2016Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more popular and powerful. Its application is gaining preference in everyday used processes and operations. It uses algorithms that require less human monitoring and supervision. AI does not only perform routine tasks independently, but now makes difficult life and death decisions on their own, which brings into question the issue of responsibilities and accountability for such decisions. Is corporate governance and the South African law ready for AI"?

Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala of the University of Johannesburg recently asked a fundamental ethical and accountability question to his twitter followers. "A self-driving car carrying a passenger encounters a pedestrian. It either has to avoid the pedestrian and kill the passenger or save the passenger and kill the pedestrian. What should it do? Kill the pedestrian, or kill the passenger, or depends on their age and or Do as the owner programmed". Interestingly, 63.8% of respondents said the car should do as the "owner programmed". Who is the owner in this scenario, Tesla Inc (USA) or the owner of the vehicle? Who should be held accountable for culpable homicide? Is it the ‘driver’ of the driverless car? Is it the manufacturer of the technology or that of the car? What about the directors of those companies that are involved? Do they take responsibility of how the technology/or car is programmed? How far does their duty of care extend to protect the company from such potential legal suites? Is it in the best interest of the company to produce technologies/machines that may have to make such crucial decisions on lives of people?

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Sourcing Executives in COVID-19 Stricken Africa


In South Africa, we use the term “ubuntu”. It doesn’t just apply to business but every aspect of life. It is a social contract based on the philosophy that if my community thrives, I thrive. Other African countries use different words to describe ubuntu, but the spirit is the same: I am because we are.

Since it describes the uniquely African approach of embracing mutual prosperity, it inevitably also encompasses our way of doing business. We’re in business for each other, and long-term relationships are favoured over making a “quick buck”.

So it’s no wonder that building rapport and strengthening bonds socially is a highlight of doing business in Africa. One must be prepared - and enjoy the occasion - to spend a good amount of time discussing personal matters, like one’s family life, health, opinions, values or beliefs, before getting down to the deal.

Sourcing Executives in COVID-19, Bafana Kubheka, Tale Spin Media, The Skills Portal, Channel Wise

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Is it Spring or a new season in your executive career?

Spring your career Signium Africa

“The birds they sang, at the break of day. Start again, I heard them say. Don’t dwell on what has passed away.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem.

Spring is in the air, a season of new beginnings. For many executives it might be a good time to start afresh, to review your goals and to map out a new career path.

If there is one thing you will get from taking on a new position now, it’s the invaluable experience of leading an organisation at a unique time in history. If you are up to the challenge, there are companies out there looking for your unique skillsets.

While movement is still limited, there are several things you can do to get on the radar of talent sourcing professionals and win them over. They are still the best way to find a position at executive level.

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Why transparent leadership is clearly important now

If we’re learning anything from the current crisis, it’s that legacy authoritarian-style leadership has no place in businesses constrained by the COVID-19 virus.

Even before the pandemic, the world was demanding a more collaborative and consultative style of leadership based on transparency. Today, transparency is so much more critical to an organisation’s survival, as an attribute of both those who lead it and the creative culture that drives it forward.

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Top leadership tips from Maslow’s Pyramid

Although published in 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow’s paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, remains immensely popular, especially in the business world. It describes human needs as a pyramid  consisting of five tiers of complexity, ranging from basic survival at the bottom to sophisticated self-expression at the top. It has become famously known as Maslow’s Pyramid.

However, it’s also a great model for understanding the role leadership plays in needs fulfilment and how that can help us retain, develop and motivate employees. Since people are more likely to follow leaders who allow them to scale the Pyramid faster, it’s an excellent idea to review it from that perspective.

The levels are: physiological (nutrition, shelter), safety (security, self-protection), love and belonging (family, friendship, community), esteem (achievement, recognition), and self-actualisation (living one’s highest values).

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Leadership is like lettuce … let’s turn over a new leaf

Leadership has never been in such high demand across commerce and industry. The need for it drives almost every interaction between talent professionals and the top tier of organisations in industries from agriculture to high tech and from major corporates to SOEs.

One response is to simplify the quest by turning leadership into a numbers game. Consult recent HR research or business publications and numbers dominate … the 10 traits of inspirational leaders, the six key attributes of organisational leadership, the five must-have qualities of great leaders, and so it goes on.

However, leadership is not simple arithmetic.

The growth of individual leadership skills and development of leadership teams take time.

Growth has to be nurtured. So, for leadership insights don’t look at paint by numbers, look at something requiring care, patience and constant attention. A lettuce, for instance.

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Signium Africa

Diverse talent solutions.
African partnerships you
can depend on.


Head Office

23 Fricker Road,
Illovo, Sandton,
South Africa,

Satelite Office

Cape Town

Contact Details

Tel: +27 (0) 11 771 4800
Email: info@signium.co.za

Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading executive recruitment company based in South Africa offering head-hunting and leadership consulting services in sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za

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