Musa Makhunga - Work professionally, beautifully, simply, happily and timeously

Musa Makhunga - Work professionally, beautifully, simply, happily and timeously
Musa Makhunga:Managing Director at HR Matters

MUSA MAKHUNGA can trace his career start back to his aunt's tea room, as grocery shops were known in rural KZN, back in the day. Called African Tea Room, the shop was situated on the R618 to Umfolozi Game Reserve. From primary school level, he would juggle helping in the shop, herding life stock and going to school.

Running her shop, farming, preaching and serving in local school committees, meant that his aunt was very busy and therefore everyone around had some responsibility to tend to. This, said Makhunga, inculcated a work ethic that would come in handy both in his education, which included vacation jobs right through to when he qualified as a teacher, some 28 years ago, and his professional life. "It is for this reason that alongside every career position I have held, I would also have an extracurricular cause, which I served or pursued. This has come with immense growth opportunities for my business and me."

Makhunga believes that his career success has largely been as a result of the strengths of the many people on whose shoulders he has leaned along the way. He commented that his own contribution was to have a very clear picture in his mind about what he wanted to do and a very strong sense of belief that if he could access 'this or that' he would be able to achieve results.

In this way, he made it easier for people to point him in the right direction and come to his assistance. "I am one man who is not afraid to ask for directions and this has taken me, in terms of my career and business, to places I could only dream about."

His ability to ask questions is reflected in his enjoyment of working in a learning environment where personal development and trying out things is encouraged and taken seriously. Makhunga says, "I am curious by nature and therefore I keep others and myself around me excited about new developments in our chosen areas of interest to the extent that we see opportunities in situations, which others could consider to be dire. I believe very strongly that if you are going to do something, do it professionally, beautifully, simply, happily and timeously. I tend to gravitate more towards things, people, organisations, associates, and environments thriving on these values."

Makhunga reflected that he faced all the challenges that his generation were experiencing entering the world of work, sadly some of these still affect people out there. "We were products of an education system, which did not prepare us for the rigours of academic study, and tertiary institutions that did not sufficiently train us to be anything more than paper pushers and good administrators. This resulted in delayed professional blossoming, as it effectively meant that at a point when others were in impactful roles, you were still playing catch up with your profession."

Added to this limitation was the challenge of entering a work environment based on strong Anglo-Saxon culture, which made no effort to listen to or to accommodate others. This aspect, he said, reminded him of a conversation he had with one of the directors to whom he reported. "He said you know I have a problem in assessing how you respond to anything that is said, done or happened unless you verbally express it. I asked what he meant, and he said you see with Nick, I see his reaction by the dilation of his pupils and change in colour, with you I draw a blank. This had implications in terms of career, promotional and other related opportunities."

Makhunga said that although there were challenges, the decision to change his career by joining commerce was a risk that has paid off handsomely in terms of personal growth and development. "Professional membership of such organisations as the Institute of People Management and the Black Management Forum added a great deal to my success, especially as both bestowed me with recognition awards during my career. The best was when I was selected for the Rotary International Executive exchange programme to the UK in 2000 as this involved bench marking our approach to our areas of interest in some of the best multi-nationals.

The best, however, was attending a two-day conference on the changing role of HR in Businesses. This was to set me on my path to owning my own HR specialist firm, servicing the private sector in the main."

Currently, says Makhunga, "Businesses underpinned by sustainability do not only survive and thrive but they ensure that their footprint in terms of impact on the physical and socio economic environment benefits current and future generations. The impact to HR Matters is that it raises our consciousness in terms of making sure that we are not pursuing our goals at the expense of everything else."

Part of HR Matters' service offering is facilitating strategic and operational planning, which means that the business is best placed to influence adoption or infusion of sustainability in clients' plans.

Makhunga concluded, "I am fascinated by innovation and futurist type developments and thus I try as much as possible to follow trends in my areas of interest, which results in reading more and travelling from time to time. I get immense fulfilment from the philanthropy work I do or have done, with my friends and business associates."

By way of relaxation, Makhunga is a keen jogger, enjoys holiday breaks and working with family. He is married with three young adult children. "My daughter is in health services, her twin brother a petrol head and their older brother is a businessman in the making. Listening to music, jazz in particular, provides the necessary and much enjoyed escapism for me."

Musa Makhunga

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