Strong Black Women in Telecoms Risk: Jovita Fazenda

This is the first of a two-part series highlighting strong black women working in telecoms risk management. This week we interview Jovita Fazenda, the Head of Regulatory Affairs at Multichoice Mozambique (pictured). A lawyer by training, Jovita is passionate about creating ethical organizations and has previously worked as Head of Ethics and Compliance at Vodacom Mozambique. Prior to that, she worked as a lawyer with Odebrecht and Galvao Engenharia. Jovita has also previously worked in the position of Risk Management Coordinator for KPMG and held a program management role with the Danish Embassy in Maputo.

The ‘new’ normal for business is only sustainable with an ethical culture in place.

You previously worked as Head of Ethics and Compliance at Vodacom Mozambique. What would you say are the key ingredients in building an ethical organisation?

The key ingredient when it comes to implementation of an ethical culture is a commitment by those with power to take decisions and influence the processes with ethics. This commitment needs to be a real commitment. The leadership i.e. the board, the executive management and mid management, need to understand what they are committing to. Individuals in leadership positions need to act ethically not just because it looks good on the reports, but because they are aware of the implications and added responsibility that comes with such commitment.The people with the decision-making powers are key in this process as the decision making process needs to be embedded with balancing of ethical concerns and consequences.They need to understand the impact of their decisions on the different organization stakeholders and try to find a balance of interests when taking decisions and implementing them.

The term “tone at the top” is used to denote the behaviour, attitudes and actions of executives. How can an organization set in place the right tone at the top?

Mainly by choosing its executives well. Organizations need to test their executives against their vision. Only those executives with the right values should be hired and retained. The top management sets the culture of the organization and as such, they need to be the example of the culture that the organization is trying to promote.

Now you are Head of Regulatory Affairs at Multichoice Mozambique. In Africa, regulatory matters can be quite complex. How can companies create and sustain fruitful and positive engagement with the regulatory bodies?

I don’t know if it is only in Africa that regulatory matters are complex. I think that they are complex all over the world. However, in Africa they are very politicized and that makes them even more complex. Sometimes the economic factors are pushed aside for more political positions and decisions. That can make the relationship with regulatory bodies a bit difficult and not very straightforward. By experience, I can affirm that the sustainability of the relationship with regulatory bodies is dependent on these bodies being technical bodies, independent of political influence. Still, this is a complex balance to find. In other parts of the world, regulatory bodies may be politically independent but they are strongly influenced by those with the economic power, which then does create other imbalances.

The Ethics Institute, based in South Africa, runs a certification program for Ethics Officers, in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch Business School. What are the benefits of such accreditation and are you seeing membership across many countries?

A Certified Ethics officer has a set of skills that allows him to aid any type of organization in the promotion of an ethical culture and enhancement of its overall sustainability. The implementation of an ethics program in an organization is a thorough undertaking that needs to follow due process and all its components need to be weighed well and analyzed throughout the implementation process. There is a need for special skills sets that are acquired through the Ethics Officer certification program to be able to implement and promote the desired organizational culture transformation. An Ethics Officer is trained to have risk management skills as well as ability to act in an advisory capacity on ethical concerns. There is a significant number of certified Ethics officers across some African countries, although the highest number is in South Africa.

Your background is in law – how does that tie in with your career in ethics, compliance and regulatory affairs?

Yes, I have an LLB degree which is great for my work in both compliance and regulatory affairs as these areas are highly related and revolve around the legislative and normative environment. My roles have been deeply connected with interpreting, understanding and translating the law and norms into application on the day to day activities of an organization. In terms of ethics, I feel that ethics helps me improve my legal training. Ethics concerns itself with values and principles, and these are personal and shared beliefs. They help one understand the spirit and purpose of the laws and aid in the interpretation and better implementation of legal norms in a just and fair perspective.

Recently, you were part of the launch of the Coalition for Organisational Integrity in Mozambique (June 2020). What are the goals of this coalition… and how is the membership?

Yes, I participated as an invitee due to my experience working in the ethics space in Mozambique, as an ethics officer and Ethics Institute project contributor. The overall goal of the coalition is to create a forum for both experience and knowledge sharing, as well as acting as a ‘change force’, a support system for conducting behavioral change on the business environment. The coalition aims to be a peer-to-peer support group but also a peer pressure forum for good behaviour.

Why is it important for organisations to be part of efforts such as the Coalition for Organisational Integrity?

The Coalition offers a platform to discuss common issues and solutions. Any group action becomes stronger and generates better results than isolated actions. Coalitions offer their members support in resolving their issues. On the other side, it also creates a platform to share valuable best practices, the definition of a common understanding and approaches to a variety of issues.

Where do you see the Coalition for Organisational Integrity in the next 5 or 10 years and how will success be measured?

The dream is that this becomes your go-to-place for ethics guidance and advisory and that this platform provides best practices guidelines and support to any organization (private and public) on business practices and sustainability.

In the media, the big stories that make headlines (as expected) are to do with non-compliance, unethical behaviour, regulatory fines and the like. Yet, in reality, there is also amazing work being done in shaping ethical organisations. How can this be shared across organisations so that it is not all doom and gloom?

That is a great question. There really is a need to share and celebrate the good examples and success stories. I believe that one way of doing that is through a coalition like the one that we just launched in Mozambique. It is also important to ensure that we disseminate information among the members of the coalition and through newsletters circulated to the public. A coalition also promotes open debate, workshops, conferences and other platforms for the sharing of best practices and success stories.

Lastly, how do you see the Covid-19 crisis changing the ethics and compliance landscape?

Everywhere we hear about ‘the new normal’ in business, and life in general. Part of this new normal is remote work for businesses that, traditionally, have been using time clocking as a measure of control for employee productivity – this, in reality, has never been very effective. With remote work, new ways of guaranteeing productivity, other than controlling assiduity and the traditional time clocking, will have to be implemented. And this is where ethics comes in. The level of employer engagement and employer-employee trust relationship, that is necessary to safely implement remote working as the modus operandi of an organisation is highly dependent on the culture of the organization. The ‘new’ normal for business is only sustainable with an ethical culture in place.

Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a director at Integrated Risk Services Ltd and specializes in revenue assurance. He previously worked as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.