Ronnie Toerien, HCM Business development & strategy leader – Africa


People are every organisation's greatest asset, and no amount of technology can be able to replace human connections.

With technology evolving every day, most companies are finding it difficult to keep up while some seem to be resisting embracing new technologies. Oracle held an exciting and insightful executive forum with HR personnel representing both East and West Africa to hear where they are on their various journeys.

The key points of the discussion were HR and finance in the cloud, Workforce Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Analytics as well as AI at work. It is clear as daylight that technology has changed the way companies conduct their business operations.  Getting the right skilled personnel who can adjust to change is of paramount importance in today’s ever-evolving connected world.

Ronnie Toerien, HCM Business Development & Strategy Leader – Africa highlighted the importance of being equipped to be able to adapt to changes brought by technology. He also mentioned that from an Oracle perspective companies should not let their technology hold them back.  Ronnie further emphasised the impact technology has on skills development adding that: “Things are changing, and we need to start looking at how do we up-skill and possibly re-skill for this new world of work that we find ourselves in and a lot of this has to do with technology.

People have changed the way they do things in order to adapt to new technology. Upskilling and changing the way of doing things is important in terms of making sure that we do not stay where we are and try and survive but look at ways to thrive so upskilling and re-skilling have become important.” What was also highlighted during the webinar was the role played by company culture through creating safe spaces which allow employees to speak up and for their voices to be heard. There was a breakout session during the live executive forum where delegates from both West and East Africa split into different focus rooms to dive into the key issues that affect their respective regions.

Paula Quinsee moderated the East region while Daniel Robus was the moderator for the West region. Once the breakout session was concluded both moderators gave summaries of what was discussed in their sessions. Some of the challenges faced in East Africa include lack of resources for upskilling employees, generalisations and stereotypes, managing diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement amongst other challenges.

In her summary, Paula said they discussed using systems from communication and an accountability point of view and being able to use them to measure productivity levels. They also looked at how it’s being used in terms of improving systems around policies and procedures especially staff turnover and unlocking potential talent. She noted that quite a few delegates from her region were at a start-up stage, so they had not yet implemented systems. 


The delegates were given insights on what to prepare for and what to put in place once they start growing. Benefits and perks were also points of discussion with one of the delegates suggesting that employers should take initiative and provide benefits like transportation and housing allowances.

Paula noted that there was some resistance regarding embracing new technology, so the discussion was about how businesses can embrace new technologies and encourage their staff to be part of the process in order to be more effective and efficient. “We also spoke about using technology from a skills gap perspective, really looking at identifying those gaps by transitioning to e-learning, using data, robotics, and AI to bridge the skills gap as opposed to in-person manual training.

Meanwhile, some of the challenges experienced in the West region include diversity and inclusion, people emigrating in search of greener pastures, and a lack of work-life balance. In his summary, Daniel highlighted that now that most companies are equipped for hybrid work, employees should be given the right to choose where they prefer to work – at home or the office.

He highlighted the benefits of incorporating automation into the HR space as a way of bringing the human aspect back into HR. What stood out for Daniel during the discussion was the fact that many companies are losing top skilled people to emigration. “This is the greatest challenge because we need to be building Africa from within Africa, however, a lot of it has to do with stability in the country itself.”

The delegates in the West region agreed that performance management metrics need to be clear and that there should be a work-life balance in place. They also agreed that HR managers need to implement new policies to counter employee burnout. The general consensus was that Africa is facing a massive brain drain, HR management should have a “thank you” strategy in place to retain talent and avoid losing people due to emigration.

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