Mention the word ‘transformation’ and Elvera Pitt’s face lights up with a huge smile. It is something the stylish lady of color, a director of the Logistics Company and head of Savino Del Bene’s (SDB) Human Resources management, holds dear to her heart.
“Transformation for me means many things. It means change in oneself; the circumstances around you; the culture of a company or importantly, transforming attitudes towards people and women in particular,” she emphasizes.
Armed with an Honors degree in Labor Relations and Master Diploma in Human Resource Management, Elvera has stepped her way through the minefield of union negotiations in the demanding arena of the mining industry, manufacturing as well managing the people problems of Parenthood Association of SA, to find a home and success in the logistics field as HR director of SDB.
She took up office in 2010 and two years later had brought the company from a Level 8 BEE rating to Level 4, a phenomenal achievement considering the international company has no black ownership.
Now, with her eye on succession planning, Elvera has introduced a leadership program of life coaching and mentoring to develop managers as coaches and leaders.
“The size and number of people employed in the logistics industry is largely unrecognized as is the fact that there is virtually no transformation. The program we have introduced will be filtered down all the way through the company through the transference of the coaching and leadership skills.
“The way will then be opened for anyone – no matter in which position in the company – to progress to managerial and executive status. Along the way they will be able to achieve skills and experience under the tutoring of their immediate superiors and have every backing the company can offer them.
“However, life is what you make it. I can be the agent of change but once the opportunity has been presented to an employee, it takes perseverance and hard work to reach the goal. But this success will not come without accountability – something severely lacking in our country today,” she points out with a smile. It is a philosophy that marks her forthright personality.
Elvera’s passion for transformation came from her late father who set an example with his own industrial negotiations career. “The problems facing a young colored girl presented challenges and out of these came my passion for conflict resolution and mediation which most often precede transformation.
“It also gives me real satisfaction to see a company like Savino Del Bene leading the way when it comes to women. I think it is the only one in the logistics field, possibly in the country, to have women in the positions of financial director, chief operating office, general manager (marketing) and Human Resources.
“At SDB women’s voices are heard and they bring a softer touch to important skills, coupled to a very stabilizing effect so vital for a balance in society…and perhaps this is one of the reasons why Savino is known for its friendly and intimate approach with clients.”
Elvera’s other achievements include introducing a wellness program into the company and its 400 employees which is part of the transformation she espouses. ‘Health in body and mind is essential to quality living as well as being able to go that extra mile for your company. We also ran an active ‘women’s month’ program which was so successful, we are continuing with it.”
She also makes ‘space and time’ for her husband and two children. “It is important to devote time and energy to activities outside of work…it is that balance I mentioned earlier found in women, and within the process of marriage and establishing a family, once again transformation is one of the keys to success and happiness,” she concludes.
Savino Del Bene South Africa is part of a worldwide corporate network that specializes in global logistics, freight forwarding, clearing and supply chain management operating in 37 countries with facilities in America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Indian subcontinent.