Entrepreneur at heart: CHRO SA meets Ericsson's HR VP Blair Mackenzie

Blair Mackenzie, vice president of human resources Sub-Saharan Africa at Ericsson, is an entrepreneur at heart. Having worked in management consulting and sales, he started a recruitment business, Ethoz, which evolved into South African's first true Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) business.

The company was software-based with assessment and job-matching capabilities. But, without the capital to grow the company to the next level, he and his partner sold the business to Adcorp and Blair became a freelance consultant before taking a position as the head of talent acquisition at Ericsson.

  • Also read: CHRO SA launch: meeting Millicom HR director Yvette Mujinga Malengela
  • Keep an eye soon-to-be launched website CHRO.co.za for the complete interview with Blair Mackenzie..
  • Are YOU a HR director? You are invited to join Blair and many colleagues for our exclusive launch event on 9 March, hosted by Vodacom HR director Matimba Mbungela. Register HERE.

Blair met with CFO Enterprise CEO Melle Eijckelhoff and Didi Sehume of CHRO South Africa, a soon-to-be-launched organisation that seeks to help HR executives to boost their network, knowledge and careers through events, media and peer-to-peer advisory.

"I don't have a classical HR background, but I've surrounded myself with experts in those areas. I don't need to be an expert myself. That said, as in any position of leadership in business, you live and die by the effectiveness of your function. So, it is still important to make sure that HR delivers seamlessly to have the credibility to engage in more value adding activities."

Blair says the business appreciates working with because of his business-minded approach to the role, which is very different from someone with a classic HR education and background. Before long, he was appointed as Ericsson's head of West Africa and he relocated with his family to Nigeria. There he addressed the local skill gap and reduced the company's reliance on expats, cutting expats from 70 to 12 in Nigeria before he left.