In an interview, Rita Lindenberg, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Entersekt, shares with us her journey, experiences and opinions on impactful female leadership – and indeed its necessity in the contemporary corporate landscape. Below are the highlights of this insightful conversation with Rita.
Take our readers through your professional journey that led you to your current role as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources.
I started my journey by ensuring that I had a solid foundation of relevant skills, which I achieved by studying at a tertiary level. I completed a diploma in HR consulting, a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology, an Honor’s degree in Public Development Management, and a Master’s degree in Leadership, Performance and Change. I completed the latter while in employment, which made the theory much more relatable and gave me the opportunity to apply my leadership skills in the workplace.
One of my first jobs was leading an organizational diagnostics function in a small management consulting practice. Here, I was able to hone my skills in using survey data to improve employee engagement.
After four years, I transitioned into the corporate financial services sector as a human capital consultant, advising line management on people practices. From there, I moved into the niche domain of global fintechs, which are typically smaller in size, fast paced and complex.
From the beginning of my career, I made sure I learnt as much as possible from the senior leaders I reported to or worked with. I selected role models that I could draw on. I am naturally curious and fascinated by people’s behavior, and this curiosity encouraged me to ask questions, conduct research, observe, and distil information so that I could form a clear picture of how things work.
Tell us more about Entersekt.
Entersekt has a lean HR function serving 150+ globally dispersed employees. To ensure we remain relevant and add the most value to our stakeholders where it matters, we automated a large part of the function through an integrated HRM system that provides reporting, data, a recruitment platform, and performance management, amongst other functions, to take care of the vital HR processes.
This gives the team more time for value-add functions such as understanding and addressing the changing needs of our employees. We also partner with selected leadership consulting firms to bolster our employee training and development offering.
We have also implemented an OKR (objectives and key results) methodology in the business to help us focus on meaningful strategic objectives with clear key results that are measured quarterly. HR has also designed a team brand, underpinned by our values, and we revisit this brand promise and goal attainment on a regular basis.
What, according to you, are the vital traits that every businesswoman should possess?
Women tend to have an innate ability for empathy and kindness, which are very powerful traits. If we lead by instilling values such as treating others with respect, extending empathy and compassion, practicing gratitude, and constructively managing conflicts, then kindness becomes the cornerstone of your business culture. In this way, women can become organizational architects – and the bridge builders that connect people.
What roadblocks or challenges did you face in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?
While I prefer not to dwell on my career challenges (and there have been many), they were the moments that provided the most opportunity for personal growth. In a corporate environment, I find myself working 12–14-hour days and having to compromise personal relationships. I have found that the best way to deal with this is by having open and frank discussions with my manager and asking for additional support, team members or resources.
The key is to approach the problem with your end goal in mind. Try to propose a solution to the issue rather than waiting for others to change your world.
I regard myself as an experienced HR professional, and as Oscar Wilde once said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” I have made lots of mistakes along the way, but the important thing is to always learn from them!
Have you contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
Absolutely! I actively hire women and enable their career development and promotion. I have also supported women’s activities in business by helping to establish a women’s network forum. It is important for women to have an equal voice, and the status quo needs to change so that we do not need to establish specific forums or special provisions. We should be able to “just own it”.
What are your future objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?
As SVP Human Resources of a global fintech company, my objectives are aligned with that of the business: “To create a world where everyone can interact and transact digitally without fear or compromise.” And, to create a work environment where our employees can thrive.