Sponsored: Using digital to drive employee inclusivity

“I am an MTNer, having done cyber work for them. I still have great relationships with my MTN colleagues and as part of my network, they continue adding value to everything I do.”

01 November 2023

Ritasha Kalidas, Group CISO and digit al lead, Tiger Brands Group (TBG)

It was a significant leap for Tiger Brands Group’s CISO and digital lead, Ritasha Kalidas, to join the retail and consumer goods sector, after a career grounded in auditing and financial services. However, this warm and open woman fits right in with the people-centric culture of TBG, adding technology to a company that has evolved over the years, but still employs blue- and white-collar workers in a two-thirds blue-collar split, with vastly differing literacy and digital literacy skills. 

The group has brands that are over 100 years old and easily recognised across the globe, and most of which are produced in South Africa. Its future now is firmly in the digital age and Kalidas’ vision is remarkable. 

“IT is still perceived here as a highly technical space, with its own daunting jargon, both within the group and outside, which is also a factor preventing women from entering an IT career. This is the wrong perception and women need to know the technology world is accessible to them. It’s the perfect place to be as it’s the sector of the future. Just do your research, be self-confident, passionate, network well, but stay true to who you are.”

Kalidas adds that taking an organisation like TBG on a digital journey does require some hand-holding at all levels, but that the agenda has to be pushed forward, saying it is key to focus on the future and what technology will do for the group. This means levelling the lingo field and adding value to the technology conversation. 

Altering mindsets 

“I am using digital to drive inclusivity and see it as the thread that will connect the workforce. It’s critical to our factory floor that employees have access to kiosks, can partake in surveys and apply for leave, for example. It’s a huge, complex journey. 

What is important to me is that we all have to remember where we come from as we do this, especially when dealing with a diverse mix of backgrounds.

“My priorities are to keep expanding our platform and technology spaces and transform manual systems, business processes and organisational design, to make the business operate more cost-effectively and be more flexible and agile. This is going to require a simultaneous change management journey, to alter fixed mindsets. I am extremely fortunate to have the support of the group’s exco, deliberately driving this through.”

Asked what gets her up in the morning, Kalidas says it’s her 17-month-old daughter. “She is a miracle child and she gives me real purpose.

“What keeps me awake at night are cybersecurity and the socio-economic factors driving these cyber attacks across the globe, as well as loadshedding and the impact it’s having. It’s taking away the budgets that could be spent on digitisation and has created a scenario of competing priorities, such as keeping the lights on and the factories up. The implications are huge.”