Akhona Qengqe has been named KFC’s General Manager for Africa, effective April 1, 2023. She will take over for outgoing GM Dhruv Kaul, who will become GM of KFC Pan Europe.
Akhona has worked in a variety of industries, including petroleum, real estate, marketing, operations, and convenience retail. She has also served as the Chairperson of the Franchise Association of South Africa’s Board of Directors.
Akhona joined KFC in Africa in 2015 as Development Director, after which she was promoted to lead the brand’s Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EI&B) agenda, before being promoted to Chief People Officer (CPO) for KFC Africa in 2020, and most recently, appointed to Chief Development Officer.
“Akhona has spent the better part of her eight years at KFC as an intrinsic part of the KFC leadership team in Africa and has worked closely with Dhruv and the team to ensure sustainability of the business but also, growth of local female talent. In fact, she has been instrumental in the team achieving diverse talent, with the Africa Senior Leadership population now being 50% female,” says Sabir Sami, KFC Global CEO.
Not only has she risen through the KFC ranks with grace and rigour, but she has also assisted the KFC business in navigating a disruptive pandemic that impacted not only business but also staff from a wellness and workplace perspective – a job she handled with humility, empathy, and efficiency. More than that, Akhona has been at the heart of the company’s development programs, enabling a heart-led, high-performance people culture. Furthermore, Akhona has been a driving force behind the KFC Add Hope program and an advocate for providing nutritious meals to those in need, assisting the team in mobilizing and driving this critical pillar of purpose for the company.
“Akhona has been central to the development and success of KFC Africa’s equality programs, taking them to new heights both locally and globally,” Sami continues.
As a strong advocate for gender equality and female empowerment, Akhona created and launched KFC Africa’s Women on the Move program in 2021 as a transformative 12-month program to provide women with tools and resources to help them leverage their natural leadership qualities and fuel results within the KFC business locally.
In addition, and crucial to her role as a true leader and advocate, she created and launched SHINE, KFC’s global Community of Belonging (COB) – a safe and brave space for people to connect, belong, and lead – gaining leadership experience in creating an environment of inclusion and belonging with a restaurant-first mentality. This program enables the company to not only collaborate with other leaders from around the world to lead change for our people, but also to become a visible ally for our communities, bringing together our women and LGBTQIA+ communities from around the world.
“This role really is a dream come true, and though I didn’t always know where my career would lead, getting here has been an incredible journey of learning, self-discovery and building many friendships along the way. “Having grown up in the small rural town of Umtata in the Eastern Cape and being exposed to the many challenges that most women in our country face, being able to fill this role and represent others who look like me gives this real meaning and purpose for me,” Qengqe said.
“I believe in Africa, in its people, and in the incredible untapped potential that still exists. We have shown tremendous growth, momentum, and acceleration as a business over the last few years despite very challenging times, but this is due to the people we have in our business and our ongoing commitment to a high performance, heartled culture. “I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish as a group,” Qengqe added.