A tough challenge: Patience Malama on managing Zambeef’s workforce

August 1st, 2017

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – The value of good human resource is not lost on Zambeef’s Huntley Farm and Country Retailing Human Resource Manager Patience Malama and neither is the ability to manage a diverse workforce.

As the first female in human resource at Zambia’s largest integrated food processing and retailing brand, the passionate HR practitioner admits that her field is not an easy one. But she is equipped for the task: “It looks simple but it is very challenging. It’s not easy but it’s the passion that I have and I like working with people.”

Zambeef employs over 6,500 employees countrywide. Patience manages a workforce of close to 2,000 employees under Huntley Farm in Chisamba and over 1,200 in retailing; a number that is likely to grow with the increasing number of retail outlets being opened across the country as the company continues investment in the sector.

Managing expectations for both management and employees then becomes a vital aspect of the enthusiastic professional’s mandate.

“Zambeef is one company where you learn a lot of things. Zambeef is one company that teaches somebody to be responsible, and all it wants is somebody who is hardworking, who is focused. It’s a company that wants results, they really want to see what your input is and this one thing I’ve learnt,” she said.

She further pointed out that Zambeef is “one company that does not segregate; we don’t look at education alone. We look at people who are able to work. We have people here who have never gone to school but so long you are able to work, they’ll teach you.”

Prior to joining Zambeef in 2010, Patience worked as a secretary, which sparked her interest in the field of Human Resource. She first served at Huntley Farm, then Head Office and later moved to retailing as senior human resource officer before being transferred back in 2014 and promoted to human resource manager at Huntley.

With support from management and the company Patience was able to advance her education and holds a degree in Human Resource Management.

“When I joined Zambeef I had a certificate in Human Resource and the time I joined that’s when I was starting my diploma. It’s not easy when you just join a company and you’re doing a course, for you to start getting permission but this is one of the companies that accommodated me. I told them I’m still going to school and they accepted that,” said Patience.

Patience points out the need for a balanced life and puts an emphasis on planning as an important aspect in maintaining that balance and getting things done.

“It’s the way you plan your things. Planning is (especially) important where work is concerned. If you don’t plan your work, you will not be able to manage,” she said.
Patience is quick to caution integrity and honesty among those seeking to be in such a position as it is one of great sensitivity, saying “It needs somebody with commitment, you have to be honest.”

The staff she oversees are “from different backgrounds, it’s like a family; this one has got different characters than this one…and so on. This is the way it is here,” she said.
“You have to understand them and have a heart and I just like my job. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve had no dull moments where work is concerned,” she admits on a lighter note as reflected on the seven years at Zambeef.

When she is not at work, Patience loves to spend time with family and enjoys pork chops every now and then.

“My favourite Zambeef products are pork chops. I like them. Almost every day I get pork chops,” finished Patience.

Some of Zambeef’s 6,000-plus workforce.

It’s not easy but it’s the passion that I have and I like working with people – Zambeef Human Resource Manager Patience Malama

About Zambeef Products Plc

Zambeef Products Plc is the largest integrated agribusiness and food processing company in Zambia and one of the largest in the region.

The group is principally involved in the production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chicken, pork, milk, dairy products, eggs, stockfeed and flour. The group also has large row cropping operations (principally maize, soya beans and wheat), planting 16,500 hectares in summer and 8,000 hectares in winter. The group is also expanding its West Africa operations in Nigeria and Ghana.

The company slaughters around 70,000 beef cattle, 6.75million chickens and 70,000 pigs per annum, while also processing 16 million litres of milk, producing 150,000 tons of stockfeed, 60 million eggs, 78,000 pairs of shoes and processes 97,500 hides in its tannery per year.
It has 177 retail outlets throughout Zambia and West Africa.

Zambeef employs over 6,000 people with a total of K307 million paid in remuneration and benefits in the last year, and contributed K144m to Government in taxes and duties.

More information is available at www.zambeefplc.com

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