Dr Rica Viljoen

Keynote: Wellbeing, Resilience and Sustainability: The single story of a South African Female that found meaning through positive psychological coaching interventions.

Dr Rica Viljoen

This paper tells the story of Josephine Dhladla, a woman whose life was humiliated, violently attacked, and threatened after unknowingly walking into the violent platinum miners’ strike in September 2012. Today, Dhladla serves as the first female mine manager of the platinum mine and the very miners who humiliated and almost killed her. Using life history as its methodology (Plummer, 2008) and the auto-ethnographic tales of Sparkes (2002), this case tells the story of Dhladla’s courage and forgiveness and how courage and forgiveness are manifested daily by Dhladla and others in multi-cultural settings. Through engaging with positive psychological theory, adult development theory and coaching, Josephine managed to renarrative her life HERstory. Over a period of 2 years, and with 8 coaching interactions, the coach and Josephine steadily worked through the task at hand. Both the coach and the coachee exited the relationship feeling fulfilled and now have ad hoc interactions. Ethical considerations of the research design included informed consent and the use of a pseudonym.

This paper, as testimony to the journey of Josephine, is presented in five parts: (a) the research design that includes key concepts of courageous African leadership and the philosophy of Ubuntu, (b) the actual story (c) a brief description of the coaching interventions and the theoretical underpinning thereof, (d) the research findings of the case, and (e) its conclusions and implications for furthering leadership theory and development.


Dr Rica Viljoen has been involved in organisational change and leadership development work for more than twenty years. Early in her career, she realised how easily we misinterpret behaviour due to diversity of thought factors. At this point, supporting leaders in organisations in fostering inclusivity and find their own unique voice, became her passion She consults internationally in different industries like mining, finance and retail. She consulted and conducted engagement research in 42 countries.

During the COVID-pandemic she deemed it critical to adapt a dynamic psycho-socio-lens to describe leadership and organisational dynamics in her individual coaching and group practice. She studies the dynamics of large scale trauma and wellness as existential questions became more conscious of how we, as humans, make sense of changing life conditions in our adaptation, focusing on resilience. Spiral dynamics and positive psychological theory are used as theoretical underpinning to make sense of the conscious and unconscious dynamics.
Rica is a well-known researcher, sought-after facilitator and Jungian coach who specialises in diversity and multiculturalism. Her award-winning doctorate focused on Inclusivity and Sustainability. She is associated with the Da Vinci Institute: School of Business Leadership and the Reading University. She supervised more than 90 PhD and Masters students. Her national and international contribution to the field of study was acknowledged through various prestigious awards by professional bodies.

Rica was the founder member of the niche Organisational Change and Development house, Mandala Consulting. Until recently Rica acted as Sibanye-Stillwater’s SVP Organisational Development. She is currently the Managing Director of Dr Rica Viljoen and Partners, serves on the 13th board of the SABPP as vice chair, and is the lead convener for the Centre of Human Emergence: Africa.

She continues to document and tell the untold stories of minority groups in organisations and society.


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