By Charndré Emma Kippie
Durban-born Managing Director at CareerBox, Lizelle Strydom, holds an impressive 16 years experience in the Business Process Outsourcing sector. Lizelle has been instrumental in developing the unique, market leading impact sourcing offering that is CareerBox, providing opportunity amongst youth and women in South Africa.
Lizelle has been involved in the BPO industry since 2004, having started as a call centre agent at CCI before working her way up, with roles including administrator, recruiter and recruitment manager amongst others, giving her first-hand insight into the career opportunities available within the sector.
In her current role Lizelle operates at the coal face of youth development and women empowerment in South Africa, working with CCI and other international corporations, thousands of young people have been placed in sustainable jobs in the digital economy. Her personal experience and direct exposure to previously disadvantaged communities has enabled her to relate to the realities of the communities that the CareerBox team serves.
What are your main career objectives?
My objective is to work with others in making an impact in reducing unemployment among women and youth in the country. Regardless of how small each person might feel their contribution is, it is a start that we can then build upon. Organisations, like the one that I head, can play a key role in providing youth and women from previously disadvantaged communities with the skills and training they need to gain access to entry level jobs in sectors that often don’t require any previous work experience.
How did your journey in HR begin?
I wanted to be a lawyer when I was young, but lacked the resources to study. I entered the contact centre industry 16 years ago as an agent with CCI, thinking that it would be something that helped raise the funds. I needed to study, but then fell in love with the environment around me. Through hard work and dedication, I worked my way toward promotions, but realised I still wanted to do more to advance the industry I was in. This started with volunteering to assist the human capital team, which saw me first become an administrator, and then recruiter, before becoming a recruitment manager.
At that stage, the company wanted to expand its presence in Africa and founded CareerBox – an NGO/PBO focusing on adult education in order to develop skills for the sector, and I took the opportunity to join as a recruitment manager there. Being an ambitious young woman, I wanted to succeed in my role and even become the head of human capital or the chief people officer. While I have since worked my way to becoming the Managing Director of CareerBox (appointed in 2013), I am just looking to make a positive impact wherever possible, irrespective of what my title is.
Why are you passionate about the HR landscape in SA?
Being in this industry allows me to interact with like-minded people from all walks of life, as well as make a positive contribution toward skills development and job creation in the country. Having started off as a contact centre agent, getting to see how the industry is progressing and playing a role in these developments, excites me. It also means that I can be a role model for people entering the industry, as my career progression showcases what is possible.
What 3 tips do you have when it comes to working in HR?
- Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, you need to be brave and confident in your own abilities, and what you can bring to your organisation.
- It then takes hard work and persistence so that you can overcome challenges and show your value.
- You also need to be genuine and authentic, and not compromise for anybody.
What advice do you have for effective skills development in organisations? How can companies do better?
South African companies need to believe in the talent that we have locally, but also need to invest in order to get the best out of their employees. A lot of companies still tend to carry out mentorship and learnership programmes as tick-box exercises, and this needs to change if they are to identify the talent that they have internally.
In your opinion, what are the key attributes of a recruitment specialist?
Recruitment specialists have to take a people-first approach, and be there to engage with individuals. You can always teach people new things, but being kind and genuine and taking an interest in the development of people, actually goes a long way.
Have you read any books that have inspired you and your career thus far?
I’m hugely inspired by Michelle Obama, and have learnt a lot from her latest book, Becoming. We are all here for a purpose, and need to be steadfast in pursuing our dreams and aspirations despite the challenging circumstances.
What keeps you going on a daily basis?
The first thing I face when walking into the office each day are dozens of youths and women of different ages who are often nervous and unsure of what to expect, and looking for their first chance at a formal job. Knowing that organisations such as CareerBox exist to offer these people hope, and possibly an opportunity for their first formal job, is what keeps me dedicated to the work that I do.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
Similarly to my work with CareerBox, I am also committed to making a difference in the lives of school goers, with regards to getting a good education. I am currently working with the Dr. JL Dube High School, in KwaMashu.