The Sunday Mail
In this week’s edition of Women in Leadership, Dr Moreen Mudenda (MM) spoke to Edgars Stores Limited Zimbabwe group chief executive officer, Ms Tjeludo Ndlovu (TN). The following are excerpts of the interview.
MM: Growing up what did you aspire to be?
TN: Initially I wanted to be an air hostess because as a young girl, I remember seeing the Air Zimbabwe adverts on TV and the idea of travelling was appealing. After high school, the opportunity to join Ernst and Young (EY) presented itself.
MM: Reflecting back how has your upbringing influenced this leadership journey?
TN: The greatest influence has been my mother who as a teacher told me to aim for a career beyond teaching or being a nurse which were popular careers when she was growing up. At school I did not hold any leadership positions because I was more introverted.
MM: What do you think has contributed to your leadership success?
TN: I am a pretty competitive person, not with other people, but internally I set high goals for myself. I guess you could say I am an overachiever who sets high standards for myself.
MM: How have you pushed through the failures in your leadership experience?
TN: The first step is being honest with myself about the failure, taking accountability and not blaming other people. I will then try to figure out what went wrong and what could have been done differently. It took me awhile to accept that one failure does not define me as a total failure.
MM: How would you describe your leadership style?
TN: I lead through delegation and fostering effective communication. I micro-monitor rather than micro-manage which means I put in place monitoring mechanisms and checkpoints to ensure that performance goals are met. I fully empower managers to make decisions through my democratic leadership style. At times I have to be autocratic when the situation warrants it.
MM: Detail your educational background and career trajectory up to this position.
TN: I read for my Bachelor of Accounting Science at UNISA, Certificate of Theory in Accounting Auditing and Taxation from Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe (ICAZ) and Final Qualifying Examinations (ICAZ)
I was first recruited by EY after high school and rose to the position of Audit Manager at the time of leaving.
I joined Edgars Group in 2012 as the Group Financial Accountant and also as the Company Secretary; appointed Managing Director for the Jet Chain; became Managing Director for Edgars prior to attaining Edgars Group CEO position.
MM: What critical leadership lessons have you applied at Edgars from your tenure at EY?
TN: I have used the ingrained EY values of integrity, respect, teaming, enthusiasm and the courage to lead as a foundation for my tenure as CEO at Edgars.
MM: What have been the key highlights in achieving Edgars’ vision since your appointment as CEO in 2020?
TN: The fact that I said yes to this appointment during the onset of the pandemic and that the business has survived through the various lockdown restrictions as non-essential workers is an achievement. Additionally, we have managed to grow our footprint and in so doing preserve the Edgars visionary legacy.
MM: What are the vital elements for building a high performing executive team to implement Edgars’ vision?
TN: Being a planner when I was appointed I developed a clear strategy and managed to get the buy-in from the key business units at EXCO. I also have an ability to identify talent and how best to leverage the skills of team members to meet performance targets.
MM: The future of work, enhanced by the pandemic is becoming more digitalised, how has technological advances innovated Edgars’ operations?
TN: Edgars had a strong digital presence before the pandemic mainly through our social media pages and WhatsApp shopping. One major shift during the pandemic was to develop a platform for online micro financing loan applications.
MM: How have you overcome the age / generational stereotypes and garnered the respect of the older managers and general workforce at Edgars?
TN; I have gained their trust through being consistent and treating all with respect. I have always solicited feedback and generally listen more than I speak.
MM: Describe some organisational barriers that may hinder women’s leadership progress.
TN; Gender bias and stereotyping are major issues that are more often at the subconscious level within organisations.
MM: What can organisations in Zimbabwe practically do to break down some of these glass