Vice President and Treasurer of the IIG, Clifford Mack (affectionately known to his peers as “Cliff”) has held various roles across the financial services industry over the last 10 years and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Institute. In February 2017, he was first appointed to the IIG council in the Impact & Transformation portfolio and was later appointed as the treasurer of the Institute.
A qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) and MBA graduate from Warwick Business School in the UK, Cliff is currently the Head of Strategic Projects at Nedbank Insurance where he is responsible for driving the strategic execution of their business initiatives.
Most notably, he was the recipient of the Top 35 under 35 CA award in 2017 by SAICA and is also a member of the Institute of Risk Management of South Africa (IRMSA).
In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, running & traveling and has recently learnt how to play guitar.
1. In today’s business world there is more to becoming a CA than just the numbers. How has this qualification has helped you in your career?
As part of becoming a CA, I conducted my articles at a “big 4 audit firm” which was a very rigorous process with my primary exposure being in banking, insurance, and manufacturing. I had early exposure to dealing with the “C-suite” allowing me to better understand and orient myself around my clients’ businesses. Key highlights that created a foundation for the shift from being a pure numbers guy to being closer to understanding strategy were: firstly, gaining first-hand experience on how these businesses manage their strategies and secondly, being exposed to the link between strategy and performance as well as the ability to remain a going concern.
Being a CA has enabled me to join the dots between understanding the strategic shifts that are happening in the insurance industry and how I can contribute continuously within my business, to ensure we continue to formulate strategies, underpinned by execution. Creating a perfect balance, this has helped me tap into both my finance and strategy competencies in order to be a modern CA.
2. You also studied your MBA abroad. What was this experience like for you?
The diversity in my MBA class alone was a mind shift, with the majority of students originating from Asia and Europe and the balance coming from the rest of the world. From the campus visits, I certainly gained friends for life who work for some of the biggest brands and corporates in the world. This exposure as well as having such contacts on speed dial is invaluable to be honest. This is notwithstanding classmates that have received million dollar funding for their start-up ideas. This experience certainly made me believe in the opportunities of the global village we live in, as well as tapping into their knowledge and experience when I have a local problem that needs a global perspective.
As an insurance industry, we have had to open our thinking more to collaborating and learning from global partners, so as to leverage this for our local clients to enhance our product offerings or client experiences.
From an IIG perspective, I am encouraged by the opportunity the IIG offers the industry through IIG International, which this year goes to San Francisco (Silicon Valley being a highlight) and Washington DC. Certainly the learnings from engaging global brands there will continue to expand our perspective to insurance and allow us to embed new learnings into our practices.
3. You received the Top 35 under 35 CA in 2017. In your opinion, where does leadership begin and end? Also, how can young people in the insurance industry make a difference?
After my involvement in this incredible competition run by SAICA, I learnt a lot around some outstanding young CAs that are leading in corporate, entrepreneurship, education and philanthropy spheres. These achievements could be a mixture in their professional careers or personal space. The principle I took out of the competition was that young professionals are looking to do more than just their ordinary day demands. Another learning and belief of mine is that standing out starts with contributing to the sustainability of the industry and environment you operate in.
My recommendation for young professionals in the insurance industry is to consider making it more attractive to those seeking a career through working with the talent pipeline at tertiary institutions. This not only raises the profile of the industry but bodes well for bringing in high calibre talent. Your IIG is also currently working with the Graduate Institute of Financial Sciences (GIFS) to make this a reality through one of our education initiatives funded by the industry.
4. What is your stance on work-life balance?
My work-life balance is heavily dependent on my ability to plan diligently in advance by anticipating and committing plans of action. I then ensure that my workload is well balanced and distributed in my team. A team that I trust and rely on. In turn, this allows me to have some sort of balance and spend time on the things I enjoy most.
5. What would you like the IIG to have achieved in the next 10 years?
In 10 years’ time I would like the IIG to be successful on three fronts that are linked to some of our strategic pillars, namely:
- Transformation – Assist and influence new regulation to support the insurance industry in order to follow the business model disruptions anticipated over the next few years.
- Education – To be acknowledged and accepted by the insurance industry as a centre of excellence in delivering top educational programmes that are cutting edge and relevant to an evolving industry.
- Networking – For the IIG to be the centre of key industry networking platforms, that further drive engagement and affiliation across insurers and our partners.