XOLANI MAWANDE – FROM COO TO CEO: A JOURNEY OF 20 MILESTONES

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Building on the press release, in this article we want to pay tribute to the new CEO of SABPP, Xolani Mawande. Over the past five years, Mr Mawande was responsible for some of the biggest successes achieved by SABPP in recent times. He spearheaded the following historic milestones:

  1. Provincial growth strategy:  Mr Mawande managed to achieve the best provincial membership growth in the history of SABPP.   Visiting all provinces and constituting provincial committees in all nine provinces, he managed to ensure a significant SABPP footprint in all provinces. Reaching out to the rural provinces in particular ensured that through his regional support programme, the Eastern Cape managed to become the first province outside Gauteng to unseat the Western Cape and KZN as top membership growth provinces.
  2. Student chapters:  Mr Mawande managed to achieve incredible growth in student chapters throughout South Africa. Once again, visiting and reaching out to the most remote provinces resulted in rural universities such as Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape outperforming large metropolitan universities in terms of SABPP student member numbers.  Under his leadership, 12 student chapters were formed at different universities throughout the country and more than 2000 students mobilised.  Many of these graduates managed to find employment within weeks after graduation, thus contributing significantly to HR graduate employment. 
  3. HR Youth Council:Building on the success of the HR Student Chapters, Mr Mawande launched the HR Youth Council in 2019. The HR Youth Council consists of the chairpersons of student chapters and they now have a national voice to influence decision-making about HR youth talent in South Africa.
  4. Dynamic conference talks:  As a preacher, Mr Mawande has a unique talent to inspire any audience.  His excellent talks at several national events, such as the CHRO conference, AMIHRP, Mice Academy and Emergence Growth resulted in several further invitations for presentations, in addition to an increase in SABPP membership numbers following these talks.
  5. A new IT and membership system:  Following years of challenging IT transformation, Mr Mawande succeeded in the transition to a new IT system, the customised online membership portal for SABPP members.  This was the first major attempt to the full automation of all SABPP work, providing self-service access to learning providers and professional members.
  6. SABPP App:  After a successful pilot project, Mr Mawande went ahead to develop an App for SABPP, thus members now have SABPP on their phone for daily contact and interaction.
  7. Building a strong team:  With the growth in membership numbers, staff numbers also increased.  From a small team of 4 people in 2011, SABPP has grown to 20 staff members in 2019, making it one of the fastest growing professional bodies in South Africa.
  8. New building:   The new and growing SABPP team needed a bigger building, hence the need to acquire a bigger building. Mr Mawande successfully managed this transition to the new ultramodern building in 2019.
  9. Biggest budget ever:  Given the phenomenal growth of SABPP over the last 8 years, the budget has increased more than ten-fold from a R2 million budget to exceeding R20 million.  Mr Mawande was responsible for the financial planning and management of SABPP during this period.
  10. Largest surplus:  While non-profit organisations are primarily focused on balancing the books when reachng break-even point, in 2018, given his performance and that of his team, the largest ever surplus was achieved.
  11. Commissioners of Oaths: Mr Mawande was the individual at the SABPP office who did the most work in ensuring that SABPP HR Practitioners were approved as Ex-Officio Commissioners of Oaths by the Minister of Justice, Advocate Michael Masutha. 
  12. HR Standards Conference –6thAnnual Summit:  Building on this world leadership event running from 2013 to 2018, Mr Mawande managed to run the 6thAnnual SABPP HR Standards conference with such a success that the event showed a bigger surplus than the previous annual conferences. This was mainly achieved as a result of the best ever sponsorships being secured for the conference.
  13. Unprecedented membership growth:  While excellent membership growth was experienced since 2011, Mr Mawande was a key driver of the increased membership numbers, mainly as part of a streamlined membership department, but also when deputising the CEO during membership drives.
  14. Employee benefits:  Using his corporate experience in the field of employee benefits, Mr Mawande arranged a full set of employee benefits for all SABPP employees.  All contract positions were converted to full-time employment and all employees now receive a full suite of employee benefits, including pension and medical aid.
  15. Diversity and employment equity:  When Mr Mawande arrived at the SABPP office in 2014, about 60% of members were white and 40% black. He has now turned this around, and five years later, more than 70% of members are now black, meaning that the HR profession is now one of the first transformed professions in South Africa.
  16. Board exams:  In 2019 Mr Mawande introduced Board exams for HR practitioners, thereby ensuring that South Africa assumes world leadership in this regard.
  17. Awards and bursaries:  A number of awards and bursaries were established during his period as COO, but these awards are now part of a formal HR awards programme.
  18. Supply-chain management: Given the phenomenal growth of SABPP over the past eight years, the number of suppliers has increased.   Mr Mawande responded by developing a clear supply chain framework for SABPP, including a BBBEE strategy and policy.  
  19. Largest project:  Mr Mawande played a key role in building relationships and overseeing the finances and delivery of SABPP’s biggest project in history, i.e. HR capacity building for the Gauteng Provincial Government, Department of Health.
  20. Building and strengthening alliances:  During 2019 several existing alliances were strengthened such as The Ethics Institute, Leadership Platform, the Association for Certified Fraud Examiners and CHRO South Africa while new alliances were formed to advance the HR profession.

On behalf of the SABPP Board and the broader HR community, we thank Xolani for the hard work culminating in the above successes and we wish him and his team many further milestones as he takes the HR profession forward.  We are proud of our new CEO and we are ready to support him all the way in his future career and journey as the leader of SABPP governing the HR profession.