Born and bred in Johannesburg, Zunaid Khan cannot contain his excitement to finally work for a municipality he grew up in. It gives him an opportunity to be a part of the change and make a difference. Zunaid is the new Executive Director of Development Planning.
Development Planning is one of the leading departments in the City. Zunaid is especially enthusiastic about finding a turnaround strategy to get some of the efficiencies correct, both operationally and on a strategic level.
“A great starting point would be for our team to be fully involved in how the department engages with the public and change the overall perception of how we operate and deliver services to the residents of the City,” he says.
Zunaid says for any department to be successful, managers and team leaders have to create space where employees find their purpose. This inevitably increases self-development as well as opportunities for the team to use in-house skills and explore new skill sets.
“I see myself as a transformational leader who encourages employees to see what they are capable of. I will drive myself and our team out of our comfort zones because only then we will know exactly what we are capable of achieving,” says Zunaid.
Before joining the City, Zunaid worked for the Presidency in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as the Chief Director for National Spatial Planning. He says he was exposed to changes on a larger scale.
Local government gives him the opportunity to do more of the groundwork. Although this career move is localized, he expects similarities in what is needed for the department to be functional.
“I am a Joburger and I think it is really cool to be this close to the action. I am also excited to be part of the team that unlocks the development potential of the city,” he says.
In his spare time, he is a husband to a wife working in the NGO sector, a dad to a little boy who loves cars and a little girl who loves unicorns and all things colourful.
“My wife is my conscience and my family is my priority. They keep me on my toes but they are also who I switch off with and call my home,” he says.
Zunaid has an Honours in Town and Regional Planning from Wits University and a postgraduate qualification in Housing Policy and Management. He is currently studying towards an MBA and holds a couple of others in project and contract management certificates. He believes knowledge is power, that one can never know enough, and that we should never stop learning.
“That said, I look forward to the systems we are looking at for the department and leveraging technology and the inordinate amount of knowledge that exists within our teams. I think we can harness these skills and expand across different spaces which will ultimately benefit the employee, the City and its residents,” he concludes.
Written by Sascha-Lee Joseph