Asha Sivenath sitting in the driver's seat.

Celebrating Nissan’s leading women

Meet Asha Sivenath, General Manager Talent Management for Nissan Africa

Full name: Asha Sivenath

Position and company name: General Manager Talent Management Africa RBU, Nissan South Africa

Main activity within Nissan: I am responsible for leading all Talent Management and L&D activities across the Africa RBU in collaboration with the HR Business Partners. Executing the development, implementation, and maintenance of effective programmes for retention, promotion, and succession. Creating and maintaining an environment of equal employment opportunities, diversity and competitive advantage in support of Nissan South Africa's diversity and inclusion strategic plan. As well as driving the organisation's effectiveness and culture improvement activities.

Experience in the field: 20+ years in HR


University of South Africa

  • BCom Honours - Human Resource Management / Strategic Business Management

Tshwane University of Technology

  • Bachelor's Degree - Human Resource Management
  • National Diploma - Human Resource Management

Management style: I consider my management style to be more visionary and democratic, in my opinion. I prefer to show individuals the path leading to the end goal rather than dictating how they should operate. My techniques include praising colleagues' accomplishments, providing frequent feedback, and ensuring that my teams are aware of the full context of the work they are performing. However, depending on the individual, I'll emphasize some strategies more than others. For instance, I have noticed that most purposeful individuals typically respond well to being made aware of the effects of their job, but underperforming co-workers are best motivated when given specific things to focus on and get better at.

Personal best achievement: I am the first female HR GM within Nissan SA Manufacturing. In May this year, I was honoured with a new role of GM: Talent Management for our newly formed Africa Region.

Person you would most like to meet:

Oprah Winfrey – She is one of the most charismatic, resilient women, who has positively not only made a success of her own life, but she pays it forward to so many in need. She's a winner, through adversity, she has always shown tenacity and passion with everything she sets out to achieve.

Locally – Anele Mdoda is my feel-good person to listen to, she is intelligent, charismatic and brilliant. She is so real!

Philosophy of life: We are responsible for managing our careers and personal development, therefore never give up, stay determined, and have faith in yourself.

Message for other women leaders in the South African business community: Invest in yourself, learn new skills, keep your eyes open to hidden opportunities, seize lateral job opportunities and ask for what you want in terms of development opportunities.

How did you get your start in the motoring industry and what drew you to it? I have always had a passion for people and for seeing them progress, so I knew I wanted to work in human resources. As I gained more experience in the HR field, I was increasingly drawn to the automotive sector, which has helped me gain a wealth of knowledge as I work to support Nissan South Africa's expansion.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women working in the motoring industry? Young women have been discouraged from entering the automotive industry because of the perception that it is a "manly" industry. However, more young women will perceive it as a space they can occupy as we continue to see the representation of female executives shaking up the industry, whether it be from an OEM standpoint or a media and influencer perspective. Women in the automobile industry are continually pushing the envelope and paving the road for expansion.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about entering the motoring industry field for the first time? It is crucial for women to know that their options are infinite and that, with enough motivation, they can achieve their goals. I always made sure I thoroughly knew my business, including every area's unique target, wins, and risks. Do not be scared to start, do your research, network, find mentors, and always keep pushing forward if you want to advance your career.

What is the best thing about being a woman working at Nissan South Africa?

I have had so many opportunities to travel, grow as a person, and expand my skill set to impart to others because of my work at Nissan. I appreciate that we can openly benchmark and learn from one another, and I am very motivated by some of the female role models we have here at Nissan AMEIO Region.

Are you personally involved in any initiatives or programs to overcome these challenges? Can you provide more details?

We have noticed a dramatic shift in the number of black leaders rising to the fore, and I have been privileged to have a voice that has contributed to Nissan South Africa's affirmative action efforts over the past five years to increase both female and male leaders in the company.

# # #