Charmaine Lemao: HR director at Nissan SA

Charmaine Lemao becomes the first female director of Nissan South Africa and says she is well prepared to make her mark in a male dominated and highly unionized industry.

The auto giant, Nissan SA, announced Lemao’s appointment as human resource director last week. She joins the company at a critical time as defined by an ambition of the Japan head office to drive up profitability and market share. Nissan runs with a midterm mission to capture 8 percent of the global market share by 2016 and to achieve 8% operating profits in a strategy titled “Power 88”.

Nissan SA is positioned to play a critical role in this mission and with particular reference to drive sales across the continent. Nissan recently reorganized its African corporate structure living Nissan SA responsible for large parts of sub Saharan Africa.

Lemao, whose career started at Iscor (now ArcelorMittal South Africa), joins Nissan’s board from Nampak Tissue where she was also HR Director.

“Mining and industry laid a solid foundation for my professional development and also prepared me for working in a unionised environment,” said Lemao. “I’m also familiar with historically male environments so while the automotive industry is new to me, working predominantly with men is not.”

Originally from Atteridgeville, North West of Pretoria, Lemao was schooled in the Northern Province and Pretoria. She studied at the University of Westville in KwaZulu-Natal and at the University of Johannesburg. She also completed an executive training programme through UNISA.

“The automotive industry is vibrant and growing and Nissan as a company is currently doing very well,” said Lemao. “I am excited to help develop a workforce that will be able to meet the challenges of Power 88,” she adds, with reference to Nissan’s global vision of achieving 8% corporate operating profit and 8% worldwide market share by fiscal 2016.

“We envisage Charmaine making a significant contribution to reaching our goals in South Africa,” said Mike Whitfield, managing director Nissan SA, “and we look forward to her energy and fresh approach doing so.”

Lemeo’s appointment marks the appointment of the company’s first woman director. Heading Nissan SA’s HR department and its sub-divisions, her portfolio includes training and development, recruitment, talent management and talent retention. As Lemao enters a new industry, she is ready for some of its challenges.

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