About dynamite in small packages - Introducing SIOPSA President 2016/17, Ms Manoko Ratala
It might come as a surprise that the soft-spoken, well-presented SIOPSA President, Manoko Ratala, grew up as a bit of a tomboy, counting falling from trees (and roofs!) as part of her risky repertoire. These daredevil pursuits – while tempered with the passage of time – will probably stand SIOPSA in good stead as the Society gears up to reach its ambitious goals.
Manoko’s happy childhood was spent in Meadowlands, Soweto, with her parents, four sisters and one brother. “Both my parents emphasised the value of education and independence. I cherish those lessons and share them with others to this day,” she says.
Lessons that have determined much of her journey to this point, it seems. Manoko holds a National Diploma: Library and Information Science; a BA in Communication and Industrial Psychology; a BA Honours in Industrial Psychology and a Master’s in Industrial and Organisational Psychology. Without realising it at the time, her first studies, selected because “the name sounded complicated”, emphasised the importance of career guidance and aptitude – because a librarian, our Manoko certainly is not…
This realisation led to her studies in Communication and Industrial Psychology and while working at the Department of Labour as a communication specialist, she decided that her postgraduate studies will focus on IOP. “I realised then the extent of the gap between the skills available and those required to build the country’s economy,” she remembers.
“IOP needs to evolve to respond to the volatile, complex and ambiguous climate in both industry and the country as a whole. We need to ensure the IO psychologists are prepared for the real world of work as it unfolds. The key is in aligning the training curriculum to this unfolding and ever-changing landscape.”
Manoko’s pursuit of excellence is a ubiquitous thread. One that she also instils in the lives of her children – her own son who is in Grade 11; her late sisters’ two recently graduated daughters, and son who is in Grade 10. “Never settle for mediocrity,” she believes and teaches, “You can always do better.”
Taking her own advice, and after a 21-year stint in government, parastatals and blue chip private sector companies, Manoko opened her own private practice in January 2011. “I’m loving it. I employ three people full time and have a robust network of associates with whom I collaborate on a project basis.”
Deciding to spread her wings and fast tracking the development of her own potential was one of Manoko’s biggest career challenges, and one she’s met head-on, “I jumped in, swam as fast and as hard as I could, and, yes, I’m still hanging in there. My grounding motto is that I am here to serve. It compels me to do my best at all times, regardless of the issues or negativity I often face.”
And about SIOPSA’s contribution to IOP in South Africa? “Through our strategic collaborations with the regulator (the HPCSA) and the HOD’s Forum, we have already begun to influence the IOP landscape in the country. We have in the past and will continue to contribute to the legislative framework that guides the development of IOP. We also have MOUs with other IO bodies in the US and in Europe and we use these as platforms for knowledge and best practice exchange.
“We need more IO professionals. I want to encourage the young people thinking about IOP as a career: We need your fresh and creative input to reach the goal of developing effective individual, team and organisational performance in South Africa and beyond. When you decide on a career in this field, settle it within yourself that you will persevere for the long haul. Understand the impact that IOP has on the growth of the economy and never give up – even when the academic journey seems daunting.”
Manoko says she is personally driven by the Oath for IO psychologists that says, “As an industrial psychologist, my foremost responsibility is to promote and balance organisational and societal prosperity with human flourishing.”
“My term will be about growth,” she says, “This I can only do with the support of the Exco team as well as our valued members. I want to encourage our members to participate in our various structures, branches, interest groups, Foundation and Academy events. They are also welcome to engage the Exco team on issues of concern and progressive inputs to help us move the profession forward. With our members and partners, we want to create #IOPlegacies.”
Manoko summarises the SIOPSA focus for 2016/17 as the following:
- Increasing SIOPSA’s footprint and help develop a pipeline for future IO psychologists;
- Building and maintaining strategic partnerships that benefit our members and grow our profession;
- Entrenching IOP relevance in industry and society;
- Improving and increasing value added services for our members and maximising our gains through the SIOPSA Academy and CPD accreditor status; and
- Engaging our members and other key stakeholders on the IOP transformation agenda.
Described by a colleague as wise beyond her years, this focus, combined with Manoko’s drive and measured approach as well as the commitment and expertise of SIOPSA members, will undoubtedly set IOP on a growth course into the future. And for Manoko, personally, it will be one step closer to realising her legacy as someone who lives to make a difference. As she concludes, “To move things positively for myself and others, at least to the next notch.”