Nhlamu Dlomu is the Global Head of People for KPMG International. She’s responsible for leading the execution of a Global People Strategy for over 200,000 KPMG people in over 150 countries and territories.
With over 19 years’ of experience in management consulting and strategic human resources across various industry sectors, Nhlamu’s experience spans culture transformation, change management consulting, leadership development and other strategic people management practices.
Prior to her current role, Nhlamu was the CEO of KPMG's South African firm, and more recently served as KPMG's Head of Global Culture and Organizational Development. She’s also a former HR and organizational development executive for one of South Africa’s largest banks.
Here are the excerpts of our interview with Nhlamu.
You have extensive experience in management consulting and strategic human resources across various industry sectors. Tell us how your career journey has evolved over the years.
My journey started during my Master’s program where I specialized in Psychology. I finished school at a young age and by 21, I was enrolled in a post-graduate program which gave me invaluable insights on behavioral psychology which I’ve been able to leverage throughout my career. After school, I had the option to start my own practice, but I was offered an opportunity to join a niche consulting firm and that’s where my career began.
Since then, I’ve worked in Management Consulting and Human Resources and advised Financial Services, Mining and Professional Services clients on a range of topics, but mainly focused around organizational development.
I rejoined KPMG’s South African firm in 2012 to transform the People and Change division within the Management Consulting team. I then took on the role of Head of People and sat on the KPMG in South Africa Board before being appointed CEO of KPMG in South Africa at a time it was undergoing a significant transformation.
I’m now the Global Head of People for KPMG International and sit on the Global Management Team with responsibility for leading the execution of our Global People Strategy.
With companies struggling to anticipate the needs and expectations of future generations of the workforce, how should organizations gear up to face the future challenge from a people perspective in a world where uncertainty is the new normal as the KPMG 2019 Global CEO Outlook identified?
Resilience in today’s dynamic marketplace is about the ability to constantly evolve and adapt to fast-paced change. The KPMG 2019 Global CEO Outlook found that to master resilience, CEOs need to drive an organization-wide digital reinvention. This means masterminding a fundamental reboot of skills and technology, accelerating the adoption of advanced technologies and undertaking wholesale upskilling of the workforce. 84 percent of CEOs are actively transforming their leadership teams to build resilience.
Disruptive technologies, from Artificial Intelligence to virtual reality are transforming the world of work. To drive this ambitious remodeling of both systems and personnel, CEOs must give their learning and development teams the strategic backing and resources required. They also need to put in place effective governance so that the resources and investment are focused on areas where they will have the greatest impact.
Employees want to feel a sense of belonging and autonomy in their roles, so the nature of how we, as HR professionals, design and structure jobs impacts employee engagement and well-being
CEOs recognize that this trend is accelerating and requires them to focus. Four in ten (44 percent) are intending to upskill more than half of their current workforce in new digital capabilities over the next three years. Organizations also need to prepare for other factors like managing multiple generations in the workplace, the changing nature of macro-dynamics like family structures, and embracing the concept of career customization.
There’s also a stronger focus than ever on inclusion and diversity in the broadest sense; organizations are increasingly looking at how neurodiversity and social diversity impact workplace culture, and this has initiated some wonderful conversations on how we all think differently and how that can be best leveraged to drive innovative solutions for clients.
As the Global Head of People for KPMG International responsible for leading the execution of a people strategy for over 200,000 KPMG people in more than 150 countries and territories, what is your talent acquisition and reskilling mantra? Any specific initiative that you have in mind and plan to implement in the coming times?
At KPMG, we have strong People teams which are made up of senior HR executives from across the KPMG global network who work collaboratively to identify key global HR trends both internally and externally. Our mantra is to develop a listening strategy to keep up with marketplace trends and research, so we can stay on top of the pulse of what’s important to our people and the people we need to attract. That way, we can attract top talent and retain our best people.
This kind of data has helped us tailor our learning programs and embed a mindset of lifelong learning into our culture. We are rolling out new global learning and people technology platforms that enhance our ability to understand the skills our people need and match them to a learning curriculum that allows them to grow and thrive in their roles. We’re investing heavily in digital skills training as well as human-centered skills like design thinking and leadership capability.
As an HR community, we can future-proof our organizations by upskilling ourselves on critical industry skills. For that, we need to enable people-related innovations in technology that support our people's way of working
We’re also shifting our talent acquisition approach through global programs like our KPMG Ideation Challenge that brings STEM and business students together in a hackathon format to develop creative ideas to business challenges. They compete in their country and then globally, eventually collaborating with our digital and data specialists to develop prototype solutions they can use to gain seed funding. It’s helping shift the perception among the top talent that KPMG firms are made up of ‘just accountants’.
With organizations shifting their culture to become more focused on building capabilities for innovation, and the ability to act like owners, do you think culture can actually be a competitive advantage?
Most definitely! As an example, digital transformation is as much about culture as it is about technology. Research shows that implementing digital tools are not enough in their own right. If you don’t address culture in parallel, the potential of these new tools is never realized.
Digital culture is instead built through how employees interact with the technology at a cognitive, emotional and behavioral level. If a new technology enables employees to work more effectively, gives them a sense of control and mastery over their roles, it’ll be more likely to shift their day-to-day behavior.
What's your vision for the future of work now that business dynamics are changing and new age technologies are emerging? What skills do the global HR managers of the future need to acquire?
Employees are increasingly looking to their workplace to provide purpose and meaning in their lives. Employees want to feel a sense of belonging and autonomy in their roles, so the nature of how we, as HR professionals, design and structure jobs impacts employee engagement and well-being.
As an HR community, we can future-proof our organizations by upskilling ourselves on critical industry skills. First, we need to enable people-related innovations in technology that support our people’s way of working. We need to manage workforce demographics in line with organizational needs and keep people costs in control, while at the same time ensuring market competitiveness. And lastly, we need to support our organizations to build the right culture and build resilience.