Stellenbosch University
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New appointment drives transformation capacity building at SU
Author: Transformation Office
Published: 01/06/2020
​​​​Katlego Letlonkane was recently appointed Programme Manager: Capacity Development in the Employment Equity and the Promotion of Diversity division in Human Resources. She will be leading the popular Siyakhula Transformation, Diversity and Employment Equity Capacity Development Programme at SU, which was developed to advance the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The programme and position is based in Human Resources, however, the content is developed in collaboration with the Transformation Office. The Transformation Office engaged Katlego to find out a bit more about her, as well as what she's planning for Siyakhula in 2020 and beyond. 

Where did you study towards your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees?
I studied law at the University of Johannesburg and did my Master's in Law (LLM), specialising in Labour Law, at the University of Cape Town. I recently completed an MA in the interdisciplinary field of Critical Diversity Studies at Wits.
What positions did you hold before coming to Maties​?
I practiced as an attorney, in the sphere of Labour Law, at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc. I then moved to consulting and joined Ernst and Young as a People Advisory Services Consultant, focusing on HR transformation and design.

What made you come to Stellenbosch University?
As my career in People Advisory developed, I became increasingly eager to join an organisation's human resources department and to design and implement people strategies in-house, as opposed to consulting, for an organisation for a limited duration. It's important for me at this stage in my career to start and see development through. I also consider myself an academic at heart and so when Stellenbosch University presented this exciting opportunity as Capacity Development Manager in the field of diversity, I could not resist. It spoke to me on so many levels. I knew I'd be fulfilling my professional and academic aspirations here.

How are you adapting to Stellenbosch? Anything interesting or different come up yet?
I was barely a month into my move and we were all quarantined to our homes to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak! It doesn't get more interesting than that, to be honest.

So your position is a sort of newly created job. What will you be doing? Does it link with what you've done previously?
The Capacity Development Programme in Diversity had been in motion before my joining, so I have a very solid foundation to build from. My role, as the title says, is to develop the University's capacity for diversity. Executing the University's Siyakhula Programme, which entails capacitating and equipping staff to model and embrace difference, diversity and transformation through training and communication will be my main responsibility. As a labour lawyer, social scientist and former consultant in HR transformation, I've assisted many organisations with driving change, particularly people and culture-related change.

You seem to be straddling the world of HR and of transformation. Would you elaborate on that link?
My role at the University sits in HR but, as it furthers the promotion of diversity and employment equity, it also aligns with the University's transformation agenda facilitated by the Transformation Office. My work will then cut across a lot of branches and equity structures of the University in order to realise our collective Vision 2040 of being an employer of choice by embracing diversity and equity, leveraging unique talents and strengths, promoting life-long learning and celebrating achievements.

What main themes will your training programme focus on? What do you think some of the biggest training needs at SU are?
Our training programme is focused on creating and promoting an enabling, inclusive, equitable, healthy and safe working and learning environment that encourages our diverse staff to maximise their productivity and where they feel valued and contribute to SU's excellence. Our aim is to provide:
  • a functional training course that focuses on compliance with the legal obligations of the Employment Equity Act and other policy and procedural frameworks and on the socio-cultural dynamics common in the implementation of these;
  • a course on understanding diversity and difference that equips staff with diversity literacy. This course contributes to the development of the capacity to reason and critically engage on issues of diversity, providing both stimulating but accessible material and a space to engage the content in critical and thoughtful ways; and
  • skills training. One of the main aims of Siyakhula is for the University community to change behaviours and for relational and empathetic relationships to be built between people. Embedding the skills and learning in people and ensuring their ownership of the vision of transformation are important to realise long-term transformation.

The Transformation Office will keep up with Katlego and the Siyakhula Transformation, Diversity and Employment Equity Capacity Development Programme​ throughout the coming months—keep an eye out on additional coverage.