Clyde Troup is the Head of Underwriting: Business Insurance at Discovery Insure and is mentoring Bandile Twala a Business Development Intern from Sasria.
Clyde shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
I think geographic location for employment will become less important, however digital communication will need to bring in new rules as there seems to be a trend of longer hours, less breaks and merged work and down time, which could lead to more fatigue. Discipline and meeting etiquette will also need to improve as no one knows what is happening behind cameras that are off. Human interaction is hugely important in our industry so we will need to have a better understanding on the rules of engagement and rebuild trust in our fellow human beings in terms of us all taking the right precautions and following the right protocols.
I think agile workspaces will also become more of a focus and WFH (Work From Home) opportunities will increase. Management of meetings in terms of when your presence is required will also become important if we want to maintain social distancing and limiting interaction for now.
Bandile shares how the “New Normal” has changed his working environment:
The “new normal” has changed my working environment drastically. From being in my cubicle at the office to working in my own space at home. At first, it was difficult to stay productive and instil the thought that it is “business as usual” but I eventually got into my groove and managed to increase my productivity levels.
How Clyde and Bandile are keeping motivated during this crisis:
Clyde: I enjoy work and have a big workload so there is plenty to do and not much of a dull moment. Innovation is key at Discovery, so we have spent a lot of time on this aspect of our business which naturally drives motivation for me as you are building something new. For me, the motivation has been around exercising and pushing myself to keep fit. Things will settle and we need to keep in mind that normal service will return in some shape or form somewhere in the next 12 months. There is light at the end of the tunnel, maybe quite far away but there is a goal and a new normal on the way and we need to be prepared, switched on and ready to grasp it in whatever shape of form it is, those who are switched off and sleeping will definitely lose the advantage.
Bandile: Staying motivated is difficult, but these are the things I have found to be effective in helping me remain positive and motivated:
- Define my goals. This always helps me put my ideas into action.
- Remain positive. You always have to be positive about what you want your outcome to be.
- Organize my space. An organized space helps to clear my mind and think differently.
- Reward myself for the small wins as well.
- I always make sure I remember why I set the goal.
Justin Naylor is the Managing Director at ITOO Special Risks and is mentoring Alain Nathan an Account Executive at the Garrun Group.
Justin shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
We have learned a lot in lockdown and work will not go back to “normal” – we will have missed a golden opportunity if we do. I think that the future of work will be more flexible with a combination of work from home and time in the office to get the benefit of better productivity and flexibility while keeping some face time and a strong culture. We also believe in the importance of expert underwriting and understanding new potential risks like Covid when designing products for our customers – speciality insurance is the new normal.
Alain shares how the “New Normal” has changed his working environment:
Quite honestly, I feel that working from home during the lockdown has been mostly beneficial in the sense that I previously was not an advocate for home offices and working from home in general, but now I am the complete opposite. My productivity levels seem to be better at my home office. Of course, I am in a fortunate position to be able to work from home unhindered. I put this increase in productivity, mostly, down to lack of distraction and more opportunity to focus. During level 5 and less so the level 4 lockdown, I will admit that I missed daily human interactions with my colleagues and clients. This is an obvious downside to the home office although through determination one can have meaningful and sincere online conversation.
There is still a lot of doubt out there regarding the client interface, renewal meetings and the return to the office. Currently I have managed to find a good balance between utilising my Employers office and my Home Office. The so called “New Normal” has no doubt thrust us forward by at least 5 – 7 years regarding our work environment. We now realise we can handle very important meetings and engagements virtually, and this is positively cutting back on unnecessary travel and physical meetings. The products we provide in the Short Term space will also undoubtedly shift somewhat and I foresee Cyber Risk becoming a major line of insurance in South Africa as remote working and home offices open companies up to increased exposures. Personally, I seem to have found a healthy balance and a good rhythm regarding our new normal. I have learnt to be more self-sufficient and confident and feel I have grown into my role as a Broker a lot quicker and perhaps better than I could have pre-COVID and in a shorter time.
Justin and Alain describes the photo of what they were doing during their lockdown catch-up session:
Justin: Enjoying all of the benefits of working Covid 19 style – getting some exercise, face to face but safe and having a catch up.
Alain: The photo above is from when Justin and I met for the first time, physically. We previously had a number of MS Teams and Zoom meetings, but this was our first face to face encounter… a 5km run and then coffee. That morning the temperature must have been 3 degrees and the run was tough, but I enjoyed our conversation while running (in between gasps for air). We had a coffee afterwards and just chatted informally. So far, the real highlights have been getting advice from Justin that I can implement in my own world (both personally and professionally). The biggest thing though has been learning to cope with negativity and anxiety, especially during such a challenging time. After a really bad day I reached out to Justin who immediately listened and provided some immediate feedback but also then went and did some research which he then sent to me about coping strategies for resilient people. I still use these almost every day and look forward to sharing these with others. We have subsequently met for lunch, while observing the COVID protocols, and are due to meet again soon. We regularly chat online.
Lana Mizen is the Head of Hospitality at Bryte Insurance and is mentoring Kelebogile Dube a Claims Team Leader from Discovery Insure.
Lana shares what will change for her as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
Change is a constant. It is not something we always want to embrace, but when forced on us we are always amazed at how well we adapt. I have always been good at balancing work-life and making the switch from one to the other. Driving to the office in the morning and home in the afternoon was the time I had to transition and for my mind to focus on something else, unrelated to work. Now one gets up from their chair and instantly switches from work to home life. It’s all about forming new habits to ensure that there is a balance. One new habit that I am extremely grateful for, is my morning exercise time which I battled to find time for before lockdown. It is all about finding a solution that works and adapting to a new routine.
Traveling for business, one realises that we can work from anywhere provided that we have the means and the ability. This, however, does limit the face to face interactions. I do miss the catch-up chats with a colleague that I would meet up with when I used to go for a coffee break. Technology has been a tremendous advantage over this time and has assisted us to be available or to access someone at a touch of a button when needed. This new way of connecting with colleagues, has assisted us in getting answers and solutions quicker. Where we would normally book a meeting, we now rely on a quick catch up, which is more informal and is all that is needed. This adds time to our workday for other important tasks. Another benefit is engaging with colleagues so easily, especially for remote team members or those that one very seldom has business dealings with.
Kelebogile shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment:
For me it was a challenge at first. I was a newly appointed team leader and had junior consultants in my team. These are agents with minimal or no insurance experience at all. Which means learning takes place every day while at work. With them being away from the office the interaction and communication was not so smooth. This was due to issues like loadshedding and network problems.
Systems were in place but nothing ran smoothly. Then 3 months into lockdown I had to change teams. This was a huge change for me as I was stepping into a new territory. Yes, there were hurdles here and there but I managed to pull through.
Thanks to Covid I have learnt to adapt to change quickly. I have also learnt new ways of leading the team even while they are working from home.
Lana and Kelebongile describe the photo of what they were doing during their lockdown catch-up session:
Lana: The photo reflects on a long-awaited face to face catch up with Kelebogile. Besides lockdown, both Kelebogile and I had massive work pressures. We had plans, but somehow, we just couldn’t make it happen and then finally it did, which was so wonderful. We met for a healthy lunch and spent much time discussing our lives, careers and the mass amount of changes that have occurred for us both, over the course of this year. Kelebogile has experienced change in so many areas of her life during this season, even taking on a new role within claims. I am extremely proud of her and what she has endured and achieved during this time. She has inspired me with her strength and courage. Kelebogile is a positive example of what can be achieved, during changing and challenging times. There are new opportunities in her work life that she would like to venture into, and I hope that I can assist her in unlocking this possibility.
Kelebogile: The above picture was the first time we met. A lovely day we had after postponing so much due to other engagements. I remember when I started all I wanted was someone who will show me and open possible new careers. Due to Covid it became quite a challenge due to restrictions.
My highlights were when I was going through a very difficult time at home. My mother was sick and I had just moved back home after a failed relationship. I tend to always bottle things in and don’t speak up when I’m going through issues. Lana however was there for me. She constantly checked up on me and gave me tips on how to face such times. I found a mentor, mother and a friend in her and never felt judged.
Towards the end she has assisted me in securing a meet and greet with one of the Heads of Commercial at Discovery to also assist me in growing my career. That however has been postponed to a later date. What I also like about her is her nurturing personality, always wants the best for me and supporting me through my studies
Nerissa Reddy, the Head of Finance Operations at Discovery Insure is mentoring Ipeleng Mangope an Underwriting Administrator at Sasria
Nerissa shares what will change for her as we prepare to enter a new era of working:
Working in high-paced, hands on company like Discovery Insure meant that attending internal and external meetings made up the majority of my day. Needless to say, this sudden shift of working from home has drastically changed that. I head up a finance team that has strong links to the operations department, so meeting clients, brokers, partners and other stakeholders was the norm. As a leadership team we had many discussions about remote working for the teams – but it was always deemed – not possible. Covid forced our hand at this – and showed us that anything is possible. We have been fully operational from home since mid-March and it has been business as usual. While the future is unknown at this stage, it is very likely that my entire team will be based at home and only be required at the office on a rotational basis. For me personally, the personal interaction between me and my team as well as others is what I miss the most and the general struggle with connection access while having virtual meeting are a major frustration. On a personal note, working from home has been challenging at times – with a demanding schedule, deliverables and trying to balance that with a demanding 2 year old!
Ipeleng shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment?
The new normal has changed my working environment radically because now I have to adapt to not seeing people that I normally interact with at work, meetings are being held online, gym is online and that’s crazy as we have always done things face to face. I am a very active person who on a normal working day went to gym in the morning and then work. By the time you start working you are all hyped up and ready for work. Working from home is a bit different, no jolly faces to see, no interactions are happening, we have an online gym but it is not the same, I must confess waking up in the morning is a struggle for me because my mind and body have adapted to not waking up at 5am and leave for work.
Work on the other hand, you need to be very disciplined and your planning must be on par, not that when you at work its different but at home there are distractions, family is around, nephews and nieces are there and they do not actually understand how aunty is always locked up in her room and not giving them attention. One minute you in a meeting the next you are making sign languages to them to leave the room because hey I am in a meeting!
But overall I love the new normal, it has changed the way I think and do things, it makes you grateful- grateful for the job you have, family and people around you, colleagues checking up on you to see if you are still coping that’s something to the other person. In times like this it is difficult to balance everything but the support structure at work, my mentee and family is helping a lot.
Nerissa and Ipeleng describe what they were did during their lockdown catch-up session:
Nerissa: Ipeleng and I are a great match. Even though we have only met in person just once –we have hit it off from the start. We discuss both work matters and concerns, but a lot of conversation is also around our personal lives – which is fantastic. We have been engaging virtually, except for a breakfast meeting recently, but we are looking forward to some summer interactions, engaging with some outdoor activities – which is what Ipeleng is passionate about!
Ipeleng: The first time I met my mentor Nerissa was great because we got to know the real us. Plans where made early in the year but Covid happened and we just could not meet. Nerissa is real as she comes and because she has been on the same journey as me (having a mentor) she could relate. The highlight of the session was that I had to challenge myself to think out of the box, evaluating what I have planned for the year if it was still doable and if not what must be done to achieve my goals. So, this is my focus from now on until the program ends, being innovative, always thinking about the future be it work or personal including all aspects of life. One last highlight is that it is never too late to change your mind but as soon as that happens a plan must be in place for the changes.
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