If I could offer my younger self some advice, it would be don't be so hard on yourself. Even bad decisions are stepping-stones to growth, so there's no point in agonising over mistakes
NIKITA PILLAY attributes her success to a powerful cocktail of positive peer pressure, perseverance and a lucky break. She grew up in a large, loud and happy family, with three sisters and a brother, but there was no chance of a tertiary education after school. Determined to get a good education - and to live up to the achievements of her two older siblings - she knew she had to study part-time to get ahead.
Nikita recognises that both men and women need perseverance and resilience to earn their success, but also points out that in some ways, woman may have an added advantage. "Yes, women are sometimes seen as weaker than men, but they are often stronger than they realise. Also, women are often at an advantage when it comes to emotional intelligence and soft skills - and these are certainly factors that have helped me."
After several years of paying her dues in general administration jobs, Nikita got her first human resources (HR) job 15 years ago, doing payroll for a major fast food company. And at last, she'd found her niche. Committed to her career growth, she continued her studies and worked her way up to HR manager for the company, before joining DRG Outsourcing.
Part of the leadership team
As head of Legal and Compliance at DRG Outsourcing, Nikita is part of the leadership team, for DRG Outsourcing, DRG Siyaya and BusinessFit. She assists client companies in aligning their HR strategies with their business strategies. It's a multi-faceted role, and no two days are the same, with a variety for responsibilities from assisting companies to develop policies and procedures, to remuneration strategies and chairing Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) hearings, to consulting on wage negotiations.
The company believes that all its staff are all leaders. "We are part of a team and we each have specialised skills. We just feed into each other and on projects each person is able to fill in those gaps, according to clients' needs," says Nikita. She's also involved in the training and mentoring of young emerging entrepreneurs. This is a role that's particularly close to her heart as she knows how the input and mentorship of experienced colleagues has contributed to her own growth.
Nikita highlights the role that David White, CEO of DRG Outsourcing, has played in her career. "Over the last seven years David has continually challenged me and exposed me to new opportunities. He's encouraged me and motivated me to always look for new opportunities. In short, he's always believed in me and supported me - and this has helped me grow in confidence and inspired me to strive to become a more rounded HR professional and a leader in our organisation."
A vital part of life
Asked about her work-life balance, Nikita just laughed. Underplaying her hard work and dedication, she points that when you love what you do, your work is a vital part of your life - not separate from life itself. "Yes, there are stresses that come with this job, because our decisions impact on people's lives. And it's important to deliver for our clients. We go the extra mile in helping customers have long term relationships with DRG. But my job is also something that gives me great satisfaction, and I look forward to coming to work every day."
Looking back on her career, Nikita is justifiably proud of her achievements but doesn't see herself as anywhere close to the finish line. "I'm happy - thus far! But there's a lot more I want to do." Never one to rest on her laurels, Nikita continues to study and has just achieved international recognition as a Personal Development Analysis (PDA) analyst - making her one of only 5600 worldwide. "I also have initiatives planned, and new services that are in development to give clients more value-add for their businesses. And happily, this means growth for DRG as well."
Even bad decisions bring value
It's easy to focus on the good, but Nikita acknow-ledges that she's made some bad decisions along the way too. "If I could offer my younger self some advice, it would be don't be so hard on yourself. Even bad decisions are stepping-stones to growth, so there's no point in agonising over mistakes.
Life is never completely plain sailing, and the little hurdles that trip you up are part of your journey. Face your challenges and you'll be fine in the end - they'll make you stronger and more appreciative of your achievements later on."
NIKITA PILLAY attributes her success to a powerful cocktail of positive peer pressure, perseverance and a lucky break. She grew up in a large, loud and happy family, with three sisters and a brother, but there was no chance of a tertiary education after school