Colleen Kanniah is a Senior Vice President – Head of Facultative at Guy Carpenter Africa and is mentoring Sibanesihle Moyo a Claims Team Leader from HandL.
Colleen shares what will change for her as she prepares to enter a new era of working:
For all intents and purposes many layers of society and business have already become accustomed to a novel way of the work-life-balance conundrum that has impacted societal norms and to some degree has forced us to take on a new perspective on diversifying our approach in dealing with day to day matters. Personally, I have seized the opportunity to take an incisive look at addressing some of the imbalances that have crept into my space. Inasmuch as my focus and depth is required in executing day to day tasks, there is the imminent danger of self-approval that everything appears to be going well when it may not be. I mention imminent danger because being ignorant of change itself can be destructive.
It has become apparent that in the new era of working, I needed to be open to innovation, creativity, and adaptation. I had to unlearn some habits that I may have become comfortable with, then to relearn patience, empathy, and tolerance under hugely different dynamics. Everyone has different preferences in terms of how they would approach a task yet there is no right or wrong way, it is a preferential way. As I open myself up to learning and understanding the preferences of others, listen more intently and engage with adaptability, I believe that I can make a better contribution to the new journey that we are on. I have recently embarked on a new career which has also provided a springboard for me to reinvent myself as I continue to embrace new challenges and gain insights, I feel blessed and excited.
Sibanesihle shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment:
Life before the pandemic was so busy and simple and that made us take everything for granted. Lock down has forced all of us to adapt and change the way we work. I have personally realised how important it is to manage my time effectively and maintain a healthy work- life balance. I have established an area at my home that is specifically for my working equipment, every morning when I wake up and get ready, I imagine myself being at my workstation.
Being able to manage my working hours has made me to be the most honest person as there is no manager to monitor what I do so that makes me my own manager. I can say that self-discipline, dedication for my job and being organised at everything I do has really helped me to overcome the pressure on the new normal being working from home. Technology has also played a huge role in helping us stay connected with colleagues and getting used to having meetings on Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well as being able to work remotely.
Colleen and Sibanesihle share how they are keeping motivated during this COVID-19 crisis:
Colleen: The worst crisis is fear of fear itself and it is often fear that is associated with uncertainty and stress that can cause irreparable damage to one’s health and sanity. I find that when fretfulness sets in there is no room to be creative, energetic and engaging. Being distraught robs me of valuable time and discredits accumulated positivity. This pandemic may be here to stay indefinitely, and I am preparing myself mentally, physically, socially and intellectually right now as I cultivate good habits around bringing back equilibrium into my life.
I certainly have embarked on several personal projects that I finally found time to start on. I have a newfound respect for my own space and creating value for myself has increased on the priority list. If I am to constantly bring good value propositions to my clients, then I need to constantly ensure that there a culture of shared values with the people that are close to me, at home and from a work perspective. I have also developed a stronger connectivity with people that are qualitative contributors to my development. I am energised, extremely motivated, challenged and passionate about life. I am looking forward to embracing life beyond the pandemic.
Sibanesihle: Staying motivated has been a big challenge for me as I work in the hospitality industry and it has been very stressful. But I told myself that I need to focus on the positives and look at things differently – with so many people that have lost their jobs because of the pandemic I am one of the few that still has a job and an income to maintain my family. My mentor Colleen has been my part of my motivation during this time, she really made me think differently and use the new norm as an opportunity to evaluate myself, not giving up on my goals and plans. You have got to get up every morning with determination if you are going to bed with contentment.
Ryno De Kock, Executive Head of Distribution: Insure Inland Region at Discovery Insure is mentoring Nthabeleng Stamier a Senior Actuarial Analyst at Bryte Insurance.
Ryno shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
I have taken many learnings from the current environment we are finding ourselves in. I believe there’s better ways of doing things going forward in terms of cost savings around travel and also efficiency in terms of time management. Technology has provided us with solutions and COVID has forced us to work smarter and cheaper. Zoom and Microsoft Team meetings have become the norm and are also very effective. However, we are not aware of the long-term effects that working from home will have and how this will play out. I believe it’s difficult to understand the culture of a company when working from home. There’s also something special about face to face interactions that I miss. I think for me personally I will think twice before booking a flight for business meetings. If we can use technology to gain the same result more efficiently this will probably be a better approach. Do I see working from home being the new norm? I think in certain situations this could be effective, but time will tell around the long-term impacts here.
Nthabeleng shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment:
I’ve been working from home since the start of lockdown. For me it’s been great because I’m a new mom and I got to be home with my son. It does get challenging in that our normal routines are affected and we have to balance home life and work, but overall it was a great opportunity to demonstrate to corporates that working from home can be done and is a win win situation for everyone involved. I also find that helping others is a way to stay motivated and so I mentor a Wits student who is currently studying the same course I studied (Actuarial Science) and try to assist her with navigating the challenges of varsity life especially during this time. I’ve found that giving back gives a lot of meaning and purpose to life and therefore helps me to stay motivated.
Ryno and Nthabeleng share how they are keeping themselves motivated during the COVID- 19 crisis?
Ryno: First step is to make sure you get into healthy habits. Get up at a fixed time in the morning. Try not to snooze the cell phone alarm. Get dressed and go into your home-work space where these should not be distractions. Make sure you have set goals you want to achieve for the day and make sure you tick those boxes. Exercise is extremely important for a clear mind. It is difficult during this crisis time but once you’re busy its very rewarding and it keeps one sane. I have also built in some long-term goals for a mountain bike race in October and January so I have something to train and work towards. Mountain biking is a new sport I have taken up during COVID. Myself and my Mentee Nthabeleng Stamier have also decided to read a book together so we will be catching up on this soon. There are also some positives that comes out of the Crisis time. Spending more quality time with family is something money can’t buy. I have also made a point of doing regular video calls with friends and family. Setting goals is key.
Nthabeleng: I’m an avid reader and that has kept me entertained and motivated, so far this year I’ve read 16 books, fiction and nonfiction. I also decided my health is priceless and decided to buy myself a treadmill and it has done wonders for me; running is very therapeutic for me. Working from home has also opened my eyes to the things that we normally take for granted, for example going for coffee with a colleague. We are all social beings and I have had to find ways to stay socially connected, this is particularly important for an extrovert like myself. I no longer get fed of my colleague’s energies and socialize with them in the traditional sense, but I try to be creative about staying connected.
Tony Webster a Business Unit Head: Corporate at Aon South Africa is mentoring Lucian Johnson a Finance Business Partner at Old Mutual Insure.
Tony shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
Before Covid we strived for a Work-Life Balance, now we need to strive for a Work-Life Separation. The lines between work and life will continue to become even more blurred. I have noticed that meeting requests have become later and later in the working “day” and even starting to get calls and expectations of replies to emails/phone calls during weekends. What is the solution to this? To become comfortable and accommodating but the trick for one own health, is do take breaks. Do not make time for breaks but take the time to walk away from your desk (wherever that may be) Rest, Recover and the Return to your environment with some renewed energy. Trust is another key component to a team’s success.
I have always believed that just because you are behind your desk does not mean you are working but when we are separated with our colleague’s trust and support are of paramount importance. I have also noticed that we are becoming more impatient and want answers and responses sooner than in the past – mutual respect and treating people the way they want to be treated must also become an acquired skill.
Lucian shares how the “New Normal” changed his working environment:
The “new normal” took some getting used to initially but, now I can say I am in the full swing of things. Although the “new normal” comes with its own challenges and upward struggles, to me the privileges definitively outweigh the negatives. Barring the ever so often shuffle to the fridge for a peak or enticement for a snack – the new normal comes at an opportune time. For sure there were teething pains as with any new thing – productivity and tracking of deliverables or projects always requiring elevation. However, I sure do miss seeing my colleagues and having a quick chat or the ever so often snaps of office banter. Nonetheless, the snaps of office banter have been replaced with the quirky midday joke during lunch with my wife who reminds me ever-so-often that in biblical times a newly-wedded husband was required to stay home with his wife for a year. I realised why…
There is a saying – the more things change the more they stay the same. I hope that the “new normal” will continue to be a positive experience for many of us and that it brings well-crafted outcomes in our personal and professional lives.
Tony and Lucian share their mentoring session during lockdown:
Tony: The Photo below depicts a post mentorship session. Why were we looking so “athletic”? The stories start a few sessions ago when Lucian suggested we go for a gentle jog when we met up. Nothing like stimulating the creative/mentorship juices by elevating the heart rate before a healthy conversation. The highlights of my sessions with Lucian is that just as one attempts to mentor so one learns in return. The learning is pre-meeting research and post meeting analysis and all the time feeling comfortable with some challenging and out-the-box questions.
Lucian: Lockdown reignited my passion for outdoor fitness and since gyms are closed what better way to start the day than an early morning run and coffee? Although I am not the quickest across a 7km run, Tony and I enjoy the morning breeze and the freshness that morning-due brings. Here in the picture Tony and I just finished our session which entailed a run, coffee and touch-base. Tony has been able to help me unlock thinking skills and self-awareness tools that I can apply in my professional and personal life. I thank IIG for affording me the opportunity to have a such a dynamic, compassionate and authentic mentor as Tony. As we all know the best part of travelling to a destination is the journey and I am all the richer for having Tony as my mentor on this part of my journey.