Senior Executive: Group Human Resources Manager & Finance - Kingsgate Clothing Group (KCG)
Hawa Asmal commenced work in 1988 with the company, which was known as AM Moolla (Pty) Limited at the time (now Kingsgate Clothing Group). The Group is one of the largest private, family-owned, and well-renowned clothing manufacturers and wholesalers that started out in 1955, with its head-office premises based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Hawa joined the Group human resources department with her initial focus on education and training. She worked her way up to the position of Group human resources manager for the company and its associate companies, a position which she holds to this day. Hawa continues to be responsible for the Group’s education and training and is involved with the various sector education and training authorities. These roles blend with her qualifications in commerce, finance, and law.
Describing herself as a very committed person, in addition to her work at Kingsgate Clothing Group,
Hawa also is responsible for the administration of her own family-owned companies.
Motivation and inspiration
Hawa emphasised, “My dad was a very influential person. Although he did not attend formal school, he was self-educated, industrious, progressive, ambitious, and successful.” Being the eldest son, he took care of his family of eight brothers and four sisters after the death of his father. He established a successful wholesale and manufacturing business.
Consequently, Hawa’s principles of hard work were developed through the inspiration she received from her late father. “He was very strong in his principles, well-disciplined and a very good role model. A lack of a formal education did not deter him from pursuing his goals and dreams and allowing me to do the same.”
In addition, Hawa’s mother played a pivotal and supportive role that provided a strong foundation for her.
Obtaining an education
One of the biggest challenges that Hawa experienced along her journey was to be able to pursue an education. At that time, the highest grade in the family for females was grade eight. Hawa said that she had to ‘break the barriers’ and influence her parents.
Due to the good results she achieved in school, her parents recognised her potential and allowed her to continue to grade ten. On completion, she had another hurdle to overcome and that was to complete matric. Fortunately, as her parents had accepted that she was determined in her quest for education, Hawa was able to complete matric. The bigger challenge was going to university. Although Hawa had the opportunity to study overseas, Johannesburg or Cape Town, as a female, she
was unable to study away from home as her parents were overprotective.
She commented, “I was very determined to study. I wanted to be independent to be able to fend for myself. I had to pave the way for my younger siblings.” Consequently, being allowed to study at university was trailblazing, as subsequently most of the female members in her family were allowed to study and become very good professionals. Although Hawa wanted to study in the science field she settled on completing a BCom (statistics) degree. She said, “I thought that’s OK. I’ve got my education and I’m going to be a housewife and raise my children.”
Hawa said that although her father encouraged her to complete her articles, she had to face another challenge – finding a suitable position. She wanted to join one of the big five auditing companies, but it was not possible. “Number one, I was a black female and number two, I was pregnant. But fortunately, I managed to get articles with a small firm of auditors. I pursued further studies and with
dedication and perseverance I progressed to become the audit manager of this firm, which subsequently amalgamated with a larger company.”
After her second child was born, Hawa took an eight-month break and with great enthusiasm joined AM Molla Clothing. She commented, “One has to highlight the support and opportunities given to me by my company to complete my law degree, attaining my chartered secretary fellowship and the conveyancing qualification together with attending legal school. My work involved travel and this enriched me and broadened my horizons.”
However, Hawa said that she was supported by her mother and sisters with babysitting. She also has a very understanding and supportive husband. Hawa commented, ‘You cannot be a successful career woman if your husband doesn’t support you in your initiatives.”
Commenting on her future goals, Hawa said, “As I have been working for many years, my main goal is to continue to be able to encourage the younger generation to have a goal and to achieve their dreams.”
For Hawa, there is no end to learning. She would like to complete her master’s degree in tax law. Her main aim has always been to encourage her children and fellow colleagues to educate themselves and importantly to be independent. She said, “One should not be complacent with one’s position. We must not be entrenched in pride and selfishness. The true measure of success lies not in personal achievements alone, but in the positive impact we have on the lives of others. Leave a legacy of kindness and generosity. With success comes humility, integrity, sincerity, commitment, and dedication which have been fundamental to achieving my goals.”
From the heart
Her advice to younger people is that everything you do must come from the heart. “It must come from within you. You must believe in yourself and that you’re going to make this world a better place.”
“Most important is our conduct and attitude and gratitude towards others. We must embrace each other and celebrate our differences. Whatever success we achieve comes with a responsibility and we have to be accountable in everything we do.”
Commenting on the KZN Top Business initiative Hawa said, “I’m very delighted to be part of this forum. I am hopeful that my input on my life’s journey as a woman in business can encourage and motivate other leaders to achieve.”