Cocktails With... Makeba Bennett-Easy

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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Getting a sit-down with Makeba Bennett-Easy takes serious wrangling. The vice-president of human resources at First Global has been clocking some serious hours planning staff retreats, strategic meetings and attending board meetings. A date is set, however, and the head-turner who's always runway-ready is all set for our spotlight. First things first, though — drinks at the Cabana of the Spanish Court Hotel.


What are you drinking?

Red Wine…Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon.


What's in it?

Grapes from Hahn's vineyards in Monterey County, California.


Where's your preferred place to unwind?



What's currently on rotation in your car stereo?

Beres Hammond, 90s dancehall music and a jazz mix by Ellis Marsalis Jnr.


Which book is on your bedside table?

I am re-reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.


A day at the beach or in the mountains?

Definitely the beach.


Private jet or the Orient Express?

Private jet.


LBD or jeans?



Indian cuisine or French?

Neither… my preference is Mediterranean.


Penthouse or picket fence?


Which five words best describe you?

Resilient, Innovative, Compassionate, Driven, Meticulous.


How has the HR role changed in the last decade?

HR is no longer the largely transactional function known formerly as 'Personnel'. In order to be effective and successful in HR today, practitioners need to possess a broadened skill set and knowledge base that enable them to partner with, advise and provide counsel to business leaders to help them grow their businesses through an organisation's most valuable asset — its people. It requires a global mindset and the ability to contribute to enterprise-level planning and decision- making that result in heightened revenue generation and increased productivity.


How does HR ensure that its investments are directed to areas of high priority in an organisation?

As a business partner, HR has to be actively involved in the strategic planning for the organisation on an ongoing basis; this visibility ensures that HR investments are strategically aligned to business-critical areas of high priority.

What are the most common faux pas made during an interview?

Bad posture, speaking negatively about current or former employers, forgetting to turn off or place mobile phone on silent, fidgeting, grammatical errors on résumé, bad odour/bad breath, overdone make-up, ill-fitting or crushed clothing.


Were you able to pull five personalities together for a strategic retreat who would they be, and why?


1 Richard Branson — Founder of the Virgin Group — brilliant entrepreneur with an admirable approach to the people agenda

2 Barack & Michelle Obama — brilliant speakers, transformational leaders, role-model couple, Barack, as the African-American president of the USA, inspired positive change and remains a model for young people globally, and Michelle, poised, intelligent, supportive, trendy and inspirational; a magnificent example of a female in a leadership position who understands the importance of work life balance

3 Bill Gates — business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor — excellent business acumen

4 Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon — demonstrates the success that comes with remaining committed to his vision despite detractors

5 Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric — an example of the type of business leader/people manager we should all strive to be


Finally, attitude or aptitude? What say you, and why?

I believe in hiring first for attitude and training the skill; with the right attitude, the aptitude can be developed over time.

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