“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Pridey Pankhurst, Human Resource Officer (HRO) and Ops Administrator at CloudSmiths, is also their official resident dynamo! Her job description can be summarised as ‘the go-to person for almost anything’, although officially, she manages the HR and Operations admin for CloudSmiths. Her position involves all things HR, from onboarding to performance management to payroll. She is also involved in the training, development, and upskilling of staff, often acting as a soundboard for anyone who needs career or personal advice.
On the operations side, she handles supplier payments and all the admin around the company’s Group Life policies, Provident funds, annual B-BBEE compliance and Work Skills Plan (WSP) submissions. And she loves it all! Mostly she really enjoys her involvement in CloudSmiths’ partner programme with Dynamic DNA. “I work with Dynamic DNA on their graduate programme, in which CloudSmiths participates, to bring in learners and upskill them on our Salesforce software.”
This partner programme forms part of the CloudSmiths learnership programme, where learners are placed at CloudSmiths for learnership and mentorship. Learners who pass their exams are hired permanently into the Salesforce ecosystem as part of an expanding workforce.
“At the end of the programme we conduct interviews and bring most of the graduates onboard permanently. I really enjoy that part of my job because it is literally changing people’s lives and giving them 4IR skills that help them to be marketable, not only in our country, but in the greater global workplace.”
Pridey is a true ‘home girl’, having grown up and attended school in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, where her leadership talents were first recognised and promoted by her headmistresses. After leaving school, however, Pridey felt at a bit of a loss. The ‘big fish in a small pond’ status that she enjoyed at school suddenly left her stranded. So, she used her gap-year free time to form a volunteer homework group for schoolchildren in her area. Here, she had her first experience of the wisdom of the proverb ‘… If you want to go far, go together’.
After her gap year, Pridey wanted to expand her horizons, so she opted for UCT rather than Wits, where she graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in the Social Sciences, majoring in organisational and industrial psychology. The #FeesMustFall movement disrupted her plans to continue directly into her honour’s year, but this took her on an alternative journey of growth and contribution.
“After graduation, I secured a position at LafargeHolcim – a mining and manufacturing company with its head office in Johannesburg. I was in their HR graduate programme for a year and two months. In April 2018, I was offered a Microsoft opportunity to become an HR associate in the WECA region – West, East and Central Africa.” This was Pridey’s entry into the IT space and she continued with this Cloud internship for a year.
Working in the WECA region, she was able to familiarise herself with the appraisal systems and labour laws of the various countries in the region. “Focusing on the legal side across a number of countries was exciting. I may think about moving into the legal side of HR later.”
As exciting as this position was, it was a contract-based internship and Pridey wanted a permanent position where she could plan her career in a consistent manner. She joined CloudSmiths at the end of 2018, where she now pilots everything HR.
Pridey is still planning to do her honours in organisational psychology on a part-time basis and has applied for the 2021 intake at Wits. She expresses immense gratitude to CloudSmiths for supporting and enabling her efforts to continue her studies while working and – more recently – parenting as well. “I just want to emphasise that the company has always been so supportive, flexible and accommodating.”
“It has been very challenging to be a mum – and a good mum – while balancing work demand and career growth.” But Pridey is determined that she can do it and, in fact, should do it to provide a strong female role model for her daughter.
“CloudSmiths is such a fun environment. I really love the culture here. I have benefited immensely from the company culture of tutoring and mentoring because, when I first arrived, I reported directly to the COO. I, therefore, gained exposure to the whole business at a high level. However, I have also gained in-depth exposure to the HR department and the HR functions of the company under the mentorship of Katharine Janisch, the MD of SparkSmiths, a subsidiary of CloudSmiths.”
“Initially I was concerned that, because I did not report to an HR manager at CloudSmiths, I may lose track of trends and not be able to assist the business properly. Katharine was appointed as my manager and she has years of experience in HR. Since then, I feel that my career has soared.” Pridey was also mentored by Bontle Songo, HR Manager at DVT, another Dynamic Technologies group company. “She has assisted me immensely as she is an HR specialist of many years’ experience,” says Pridey.
In terms of the mentoring and tutoring of others, Pridey has started her journey of mentoring others by assisting with the training reviews, consisting of training needs analysis and skills review. “I take the employees on a sort of journey. I ask them, ‘where are you now and where do you want to go; and how can I assist?’ Then I find the course they need or the certification they require or aspire to.”
Being the eldest of four children, and having had to take responsibility for them while growing up, Pridey’s personality is a perfect fit for this role. “I really love being the big sister. I feel that I was born to play that role because I am passionate about helping people tap into their potential.”
“One of our values at CloudSmiths is curiosity, and I really resonate with that – to be curious and explore your potential, because people so often limit themselves. That is the impact that I would like to have in the workplace and in the country – for our youth to realise their potential and work towards a common goal.”