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Poise, presence, and purpose

Tebogo Baloyi, head of human resources (HR) at Bryte Insurance, is a curious human observer who applauds the grit and resilience of his fellow South Africans. Ever mindful of the complex environment in which he operates, Baloyi’s approach to talent development is as much about helping people shine as it is about transforming the system for the better.

At a time when market data firms like Gitnux report that 77% of chief executive officers are worried about accessing the essential skills and talent they need to run effective organisations and 51% of companies feel their current approach to talent management is insufficient, the pressure to find, nurture, develop, and retain top people has never been more important. On 1 October 2023, Bryte’s former head of learning and development took over as head of HR for the group, enabling him to feed his purpose of ‘helping others to thrive and be the best they can be’. Having a career aligned with his purpose, which allows him to contribute to improving skills development in South Africa, inspires Baloyi to adopt fresh and innovative approaches to competence-based learning, leadership development, and talent management.

Since 2018, Henley Business School Africa has been an important partner on this journey, bringing a systems thinking approach to the table and supporting Baloyi’s view that talent development must be considered in the context of the company, broader environment, existing leaders, and individuals. ‘We’ve seen amazing results in terms of this relationship,’ reflects Baloyi. ‘We are very aligned in how we approach the topic of leadership and how to grow leaders, as well as around values. Our culture is very people-centric and I feel Henley shares the same values.’

Growing young minds

As the son of two educators, Baloyi has had personal development ingrained in him from an early age. ‘That was the sort of environment I grew up in,’ he recalls. ‘I’d go to work with them and see this institution called school from a different point of view. I got to see what happens in the background and heard my parents discuss ways to grow and develop young minds. That planted a seed, even if I didn’t realise it at the time.’

So strong was this pull that Baloyi initially wanted to study philosophy and psychology at university, but his mother guided him to study ‘something that makes money’ and offered more job security. He went on to study HR and economics at the University of the Witwatersrand, a combination some regard as unorthodox, but which reflected his interests at the time and his continued fascination with how systems work.

While Baloyi grew tired of economics, the appeal of getting the best out of people flourished. When a coaching opportunity arose, opening the door to learning and development, he jumped at it. ‘That’s where I knew what I was meant to do with my life,’ says Baloyi. ‘I made that coaching role my own as I looked at it from a behavioural science point of view and started asking why some people perform and others don’t. In that role, I found a way to feed my curiosity about systems, institutions, and individuals, and the importance of creating systems where people can thrive.’

Overcoming challenges and unlocking opportunities

Even in his career, Baloyi has actively had to find his direction and be prepared to advocate for his talent and abilities, which do not come naturally to him. However, this personal challenge gives him a unique perspective on the importance of casting a wide net for talent development within an organisation to find and develop individuals with promise – even if they do not yet see that potential in themselves.

Baloyi reflects that visibility in an organisation is imperative, though some people find it easier to put up their hands and push themselves forward for consideration than others. Unfortunately, this means that talented individuals can often be overlooked. Baloyi almost fell into this trap early in his career and had to work actively to increase his visibility and presence, and create a personal brand that reflected his potential. ‘I knew I had something to offer within the business world, but I used to think that my work would speak for itself and help me progress within an organisation. I realised that there are certain areas you need to focus on beyond delivery, including the ability to put yourself out there,’ he recalls. ‘For me, that was a challenge.’ Today, he incorporates this learning into his mentorship of younger people at Bryte and encourages them to carefully consider and nurture what he calls their ‘executive presence’. 

Harvesting fresh, new ideas

Today, much of Bryte’s approach to career progression is encapsulated in the work of the Bryte Academy, an initiative Baloyi is exceptionally proud of. ‘We launched the Bryte Academy in 2019 to give our employees access to good-quality education through partnerships with the likes of Henley. We also include a programme to help them advance within the organisation, so talent and succession are key.’

Baloyi acknowledges that this focus on personal career development and learning has become embedded in the company’s culture since the acquisition of Zurich Insurance Company South Africa by Fairfax Financial Holdings in 2016. ‘That brought a different dynamic into the organisation,’ admits Baloyi, ‘and that’s when we started looking at and investing in our culture’.

While this focus continues, the scope of the Academy’s work continues to expand. The latest addition is NextCo, Bryte’s first shadow board, which provides an opportunity to engage talent within the business. Baloyi explains: ‘We want diverse thinking in how we approach projects and strategic initiatives, and we want to hear the voice of our younger generation. So, NextCo is the practical experience that allows talented individuals to shine even more and get more exposure to projects. The shadow ExCo also sits like an ExCo; they are mapped to a portfolio and will be given real projects to execute as a team.’

Mentorship and coaching also form part of this talent and succession development initiative, personal development avenues that Baloyi has also benefitted from over the years. ‘I’ve been exposed to great leaders during my time in corporate, including here at Bryte; people whose guidance has benefitted me in multiple ways,’ he says, noting that there are boundless mentorship opportunities from which one is never too old or too senior to benefit.

Without naming names, Baloyi notes that the most significant help he gained from mentoring was his recent promotion to head of HR at Bryte. ‘Mentoring helped me to take that leap, take the extra step. I’d been through formal learning and a little bit of coaching, which was also quite beneficial, but when I started seeking mentorship from senior leaders and peers, that contributed to where I am now.’


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