IIG News

Roots & Wings Mentee & Mentor Catch Up

Juan Coetzee, Head of Division at Santam is mentoring Kaizer Sigasa a Desktop Assessor from IWYZE Insurance

Juan shared with us his thoughts on some of the operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

The Covid pandemic has made a lot of companies relook at their operating model, with specific reference on places of work, the way we work and what are the key performance drivers in the workplace and remuneration.

Prior to COVID there was a very small change in the way insurance companies have been operating for the past years. When the national lockdown occurred, businesses had to quickly rethink the way they do business. In a matter of days companies large and small had to relook the way their employees operated and interacted.

This brings its own challenges in the short term, however long term we could see a shift to a more dynamic and streamlined operating model across the industry.

The ability to work remotely has become a norm in this time and all businesses will have to address this and individually access the efficacy of their operational structure.

Interaction with fellow staff members, our clients and those in other organizations has become more virtual and people are more comfortable in dealing in this manner.

The way we measure key performance areas and related remuneration will also have to be re-looked at in the future if we see a combination of office and remote based staff.

Most operating models will be a hybrid of a pre lockdown working environment and the new digital way of doing business,

Relationships will stay key in our industry and will still form a central part of the way we do business…. It is just the way we interact which will change.

Kaizer shared how the COVID19 situation has changed his working environment:

Well I went from a coffee machine to having to make my coffee manually… *smile*

Covid-19 has taken me from a formal structure where one was office based and the hours were rigid to a more flexible informal structure. The attention has become more of a work/time management focus and a reliance on one’s own decision-making skills in certain situations whereas prior to Covid-19 you had a safety net of your peers at your immediate disposal. This has allowed me as an individual to zone in on my leadership qualities and an increased reliance on technology to remain in touch with stakeholders and colleagues alike.

Juan shared with us one thing he has enjoyed most about the lockdown:

On a personal level, I think the additional time with my family is my highlight of the lockdown period. Even though this came with its own challenges, my wife is a great organiser and within the first few weeks of lockdown she had the kids and I in a great routine. We had time to do various activities that we normally only do on holidays and being home allowed me to get involved in their day to day schoolwork (when work allowed…)

On a broader level it was really good to see the way communities pulled together (by staying apart) to try and assist each other during this difficult time.

Kaizer tells us how he remains motivated during the lockdown:

My greatest motivator is my two sons. Having started on two journeys that have brought about self-discipline and fulfilment. Having to keep up with my mentorship program and my own personal journey has opened doors of discovery. This forces you to face yourself in all facets of your life and introspection for me is the greatest motivator to being a better child, son, mentee, colleague, and father.


Daphne Peter, Head of Risk Finance, from Hollard Insure is mentoring Lesego Mokgara an Underwriting Administrator for Emerald Risk Transfer.

 Daphne shared her thoughts on some operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after?

 Top of mind is our people, I don’t think we often give this enough thought.  COVID19 has allowed us to focus on the safety of our people, our most valuable asset in any organisation. Many companies had to rethink how we can keep our people safe in the work place from the impact of pandemics and epidemics. Organisations will have to rethink their disaster recovery plans because I don’t believe that they cater for the event we are now experiencing.

Another aspect is prioritising. Given the economic impact this has had, many businesses will have to reevaluate what matters most in business, what can be steadied, what needs to be rethought and what can be pushed back.

We are a service industry and we distribute our products mainly via building relationships, face to face.  Given the current situation we find ourselves and many companies will have to start embracing digitization to distribute products through a technology mediated delivery solution

Lesego shared with us one thing she has enjoyed most about the lockdown:

The COVID19 situation has changed my working environment so much. I was challenged to restructure my home environment to become an office environment so that I could fulfill my work responsibilities.  In addition, I had to adapt to becoming a teacher for my 11 year old, become a stimulating day care teacher to my 3 year old, whilst balancing my work. This is extremely challenging.  In order to ensure that I do not fall behind on my work responsibilities I have learned to work at night while everyone is asleep just to make up the time I miss during the day. I have a bubbly personality and I miss the office environment, those passage talks with my fellow colleagues and listening to music in my car, on my way to the office.  COVID has certainly brought about change and the challenge for me is to manage all these roles.

Daphne shared what she has enjoyed the most about the lockdown:

I have always said that I cannot work from home, however being put in a situation with no alternative but to work from home, I have found that I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have managed to do far more work because of less interruptions.

Lesego tells us how she remains motivated during the lockdown:

I remain motivated by keeping to my normal routine as much as possible, i.e. still waking up early, dressing up like I am going to the office.  Dressing up and putting make-up on gives me strength to look forward to the day.  I also decided to download an app called losing fat in 30 days and I started exercising before I start my day.  I have created a very comfortable working space at home just to feel motivated. I even bought different weaves to look good and feel good! A healthier lifestyle has also kept me motivated as I have been preparing and writing exams. I found that I still had enough energy to study at night because I can allocate more time to studying as I do not have to waste time in traffic. So COVID19 has certainly had some benefits for me and I am not allowing it to get me down.  I am staying my normal enthusiastic self, and not to forget my mentor Daphne Peter who is there to guide me, to keep me motivated and going.


Bernice van Leeuwen a General Manager at VCIB Insurance Brokers is mentoring Mmakgabo Setati a Private Client Specialist at PPS Short Term Insurance

Bernice shares her thoughts on operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

The obvious operational risks the pandemic highlighted was organisations abilities to manage cyber security risks and productivity when working remotely. Work force data and technology literacy is another and goes hand in hand with productivity and cyber security.

I also believe that perceived value is something many organisations may need to re-think, especially given the financial knock many South Africans have endured. The demand and pricing for a product or service I believe will significantly be impacted by personal pandemic experiences.

Mmakgabo shares with us how the COVID19 situation has changed her working environment:

COVID 19 has definitely changed everything and most definitely my working environment. I am privileged to be working for an organisation that reacted efficiently and made sure that all employees had laptops, were connected and able to work from home.  The biggest adjustment of all was having to be online working and at the same time be a teacher to my 6 year old daughter.

I have even found myself logged on after hours, making sure that all work is up to date and ensuring I have provided the necessary feedback. This led me to be aware and make sure that I get sufficient rest, this is to avoid burn out. It is important to get the right work-life balance. Funny enough I am now used to working from home.

In 2017, I did a course in Innovation that highlighted how in the future people will be working from home, the need for organisations to be innovative and how we were living in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world. Never did I think that so soon we would be this disrupted by COVID19. This is definitely a year and decade of change.

Bernice shares thing she has enjoyed the most about the lockdown:

The thing I enjoyed the most was seeing the last 2 years of digital transformation strategy being brought to fruition with the company I was leaving. They managed to embrace remote work with very little disruption. The team had already been educated on remote work and cyber risks in the transformation process. The other thing I found extremely heart-warming was seeing many South Africans stand together.

Mmakgabo shares how she remains motivated during the lockdown:

How I keep myself motivated is that I remind myself that change comes with infinite possibilities, one needs to continuously refresh one’s knowledge and learn something new. I have found myself online reading up on industry changes. Positive thinking and being grateful is very important. I used to run in the morning but due to the change in weather, I have now changed my routine to taking afternoon walks. My mentor Bernice suggested I start reading hard cover books because I was struggling to finish an online PDF book. I have now started reading 1 book a month. With her assistance, I have put my goals on paper (short and long term), knowing that I have a set time frame to achieve each of my goals, has kept me motivated.

*Pictures taken prior to lockdown