Tshepiso, congratulations on your appointment as Deputy -President of the IIG. Please share with us your background and how you joined the insurance industry which has ultimately led you to the IIG?
Thank you so much, it is such an honour to be part of the IIG and an even greater honour to be appointed as Deputy President. My journey in insurance started when I was accepted into a learnership programme at Fedsure Life Insurance in the Group Benefits division. I started as a retirement funds administrator. Those years taught me alot about team work and customer service. I also grew a passion for insurance, understanding at an early age why insurance was essential and how you could attain financial peace of mind. Through the learnership I also acquired a Certificate of Proficiency through the IISA. After a couple of years, I moved to Liberty Life doing the same work, but eventually moved into the individual life space.
At university I did a BA degree in Humanities and I wholeheartedly wanted to be in the HR space. However, I got that opportunity at Liberty Life and never looked back. I learnt a great deal working and supporting the insurance business. I moved to the banking sector for about 3 years but during that time I missed the insurance sector. However, I was able to fulfil this gap by putting alot of focus on the employee benefits part of HR work.
I joined Sasria in 2015 and was excited about getting back into insurance. My work at Sasria allows me to be deeply involved in skills development, not just for Sasria employees but for the industry. Sasria has heeded the call to bring skills development in the industry and ultimately to the nation – it does this through Graduate programmes and CSI initiatives. Sasria is a big supporter of industry upliftment initiatives such as the IIG and my work in the People Management Division allowed me to be a part of that.
Tshepiso, you hold very senior roles at both the IIG and SASRIA. How do you balance these two executive positions?
I am a big believer in “blend” and not balance. Both roles are extremely important and carry huge responsibilities. Fortunately, both roles allow me to wear my “people” hat which is where I am most comfortable. At Sasria I am responsible for developing people strategies, both internally and externally. I am required to think all the time about how we give back and contribute to the community in which we operate, how we upskill and empower people, how we contribute to the transformation agenda in Sasria and in the insurance community. The IIG allows me to see what is possible, what can be done and helps me to do it.
As a leader, what advice do you have for other leaders to help them support their teams during this pandemic?
A few points on how to deal with the pandemic as a leader:
Acknowledgement – Recognise that the Covid19 pandemic came unexpectedly to all of us. Dealing with it is a new thing to everyone, no matter where you are in the world.
Stay informed – The South African Government has done better in providing guidelines than what other countries have done. It is important to stay up to date with the regulations, especially those that are related to labour.
Communicate regularly – Be visible to your teams through video calls and a phone call from time to time. Create a platform where your team can engage on a weekly basis. It is also very important to have informal team engagements that allows your team to have fun and engage on a more personal level.
What can I do? – As a team, identify your role during the pandemic, not just business as usual. Ask yourselves what value you can bring to the business or to society in this time. You will find that all of us have value that we can add.
Learning – Continue to learn and develop as well as encourage your team to develop. Learning and development continues, albeit, in a different format.
Feedback – Encourage questions and feedback from your team. It is important to understand the challenges that each of your team members could be facing. It is important for people to feel supported in this time. Psychological wellbeing has been highlighted as a challenge in this time, leaders must think outside the box about how they support the individuals in their teams.
What do you hope to achieve as the Deputy President of the IIG?
2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, but I have seen how the current president of the IIG, Darryl Grater, has risen to the challenge by effecting change and impacting people in such a time as this. My aim is to learn as much from him as I can, as well as other past presidents of the IIG and other members of the IIG council. I am also responsible for the Impact and Transformation portfolio which is managed by Natasha Maroun and a great team of people. I would like to ensure that the team is supported and that we are able to raise the funds that we need for the great initiatives that this team is responsible for. I also hope to grow my network and get to know more and more people and understand how they contribute to this industry.
Do you have any keys to success to share with the insurance industry?
This is a difficult question as every person should be able to define their own success, therefore, the definition will change from person to person. A common key in achieving success is the humility to learn and keep learning. Often takes the format of setting a goal and milestones, the relentless determination to achieve the goal one milestone at a time and once the goal is achieved, asking yourself what is next – what else can I learn?
Thank you to Tshepiso for your dedication to the IIG and we look forward to what the rest of 2020 holds.