The Story of 52.com

Tracey Rowe

Tracey, what is the story of 52.com?

It’s a great story, actually.  Jane and I met many years ago through a mutual friend and had an immediate connection – specifically around our passion for HR.  We both followed a similar path in corporate HR, and whenever we met, we were naturally drawn to each other’s views, and very animated about the ways we were found to strengthen the value of HR in our organisations.  

We have both been Directors on the SAGEA (South African Graduate Employers Association) Board for 15 years, and at each Board meeting, without even realizing it, we would finish each other’s sentences (aligned extraordinaire!).  

After announcing to the Board my resignation from corporate to start my own business, unbeknown to me, Jane announced hers too.  That was followed by a resounding “why don’t we start a business together?”.  And as the storybooks go, the rest is history….

What has been your most rewarding experience?

I have a few. But perhaps my most rewarding experience is watching an ex-colleague of mine, grow from being an administrator to an HR Director in 6 years.  I knew the minute I met her, that she was incredibly talented, intelligent and balanced, and she had the most extraordinary work ethic.  

We had an open, trusting relationship from day one, which gave us the space to be honest, but more importantly to feel safe to put our hands up when we had messed up (which we both did on several occasions).  

Our relationship was professional and respectful, and we inherently supported each other, no matter how trying.  Today, this beautiful lady, is one of the best HR Directors I know, and yet she remains humble, kind and her work ethic is beyond incredible. 

What do you want 52.com to achieve?

To enable organisations to fundamentally shift the value of their HR function i.e. to work with business leaders and HR professionals to re-frame the positioning of HR within their organisation.  Too often, HR is not at the forefront of commercial people decisions, alongside leadership.  

Too often, people decisions are made by leadership, and expected to be implemented by HR.  Too often, HR professionals, do not have the business acumen to make strategic decisions, that could significantly impact the success of a business.  

Too often, HR teams are not set up correctly to influence and maximise the output of people – the biggest cost in running a business.  52.com has been set up to conquer (with the HR teams) these “too often’s”.

Why have you “given up” your HR Director career to do this?

After 25 years in corporate, it’s time to give back and share my learnings, experience and (I hope!) wisdom with fellow HR professionals.  I have seen broken HR teams turn themselves around, by having the right people, in the right jobs, doing the right things.  It’s not rocket science.  But it is groundbreaking when it happens. 

What is your superpower?

Intuition.  Having worked as an HR Director in global firms for over 15 years, including 4 years in Dubai as the HRD for Middle East & Africa, my natural intuition is entrenched in everything I do.