IIG News

Roots & Wings Mentor & Mentee Catch-Up

This month we touched base with more of the Roots & Wings Mentors and Mentee’s. The pairs have shared with us how they are doing during the lockdown and remaining committed to their relationship and the Roots & Wings Programme.


Michael Dash from DiasDash is mentoring Tlou Malebana a Commercial Underwriter at Old Mutual Insure.

Michael and Tlou shared with us how the lockdown has impacted their Roots & Wings Journey:

Michael: The opportunity to mentor remotely is unprecedented to most mentors / mentees. I have used various platforms in my business previously which allows me the comfort to pick up my mentees responses and what to look out for. We both have had to adapt to the virtual platforms and get used to the new “reality”. We have regular check ins and are excited about the lockdown easing and getting together for a “face to face” coffee chat before the end of the mentorship programme. We both have undertaken to continue the mentorship beyond the initial programme.

Tlou: Lockdown has made it almost impossible to achieve some of the goals and objectives, since most of them can only be done outdoors. My mentor and I have decided that despite Covid-19 being a challenge, we needed to strategize on ways in which we can carry on with our journey under unfavourable conditions. We even came up with a motto: “getting comfortable, being uncomfortable” which basically means that even though the conditions are not conducive, we need to improvise and make it work by any means.

In transforming my lofty goals and objectives into reality I have started doing my daily runs around my flat every morning using “Couch to 5K runner” to track my progress instead of going outside. We are having our monthly meetings via Skype and phone calls, although we both prefer face-to-face interaction.

What Tlou has missed the most about his normal routine during the lockdown:

I miss touching my mouth and nose, I miss being around my colleagues, my family and friends. I miss the jokes, greetings and laughter that we share when making coffee in the kitchen every morning at work, I miss the Pretoria rush hour traffic. Meanwhile, my heart also aches for my loved ones back in Polokwane who have been concerned for my safety. I always ensure that I keep in touch with them and my brother who is all alone during all of this. I miss going to church, since God is the central part of all that I do, I miss going to Sterland to watch movies, going ice-skating in the Groove Mall, window shopping at Menlyn, horse riding and watching derby at FNB stadium. But looking out my window at individuals coming from grocery shopping, hearing police sirens, being able to work remotely and taking my daily run around the flat every morning has made me realize how lucky I am.

I do have phone calls and remote meetings with my colleagues on Zoom once in a while however, I do miss face-to-face interaction.  I believe as a country we have been doing quite well in curbing the spread of the virus, although it also worries me to see a  number of people starting to slack off. It is going to be a long battle; however we all need ensure that we do our part and not take this for granted. I just hope we can all get through this together.

Michael’s advice to Tlou to keep motivated during the lockdown:

During lockdown it is important to stick to a routine, including waking up at the same time and even dressing for the work day. This way we get into the work mindset, allowing us to differentiate between work and home. If possible, an area in the residence should be cleared for the “office” environment. Lockdown also allows time for personal growth and development as well as the opportunity to develop new healthy habits.


Neil Beaumont from Chubb is mentoring Matthew Koen a Risk Engineer at Discovery Insure.

Neil and Matthew shared with us how the lockdown has impacted their Roots & Wings Journey:

Neil: With technology these days, video calls have meant we can still have meaningful sessions, even though not in person. After the lockdown, we will definitely be meeting in person as that is the best way to get to know someone and have deep and meaningful conversations. I think we are still meeting our mentorship goals regardless of the situation, so all is good!

Matthew: The lockdown has meant that my mentor and I had to adapt the way we expected to interact. Before the lockdown, we would have likely met at a restaurant or café, but instead our meetings now comprise of WhatsApp calls and Zoom meetings with home brewed coffee. As this lockdown was implemented before our first official mentorship meeting, it has had a limited impact on my journey as I have never known a different way. I am still able to chat with my mentor, set goals and monitor my progress. All in all, I would say that the lockdown has changed the way we travel but it has not altered the path or the destination.

What Matthew has missed the most about his normal routine during the lockdown:

CrossFit.  I am an extremely active individual and the lockdown has limited this to cardio on my balcony. While I am grateful that I have the space to exercise in my home, I do miss seeing other people and participating in heavy weightlifting classes. The CrossFit community is a very motivating space as we share our pain and laughs during the workouts. The CrossFit box will be my first stop once the lockdown is lifted.

 Neil’s advice to Matthew to keep motivated during the lockdown:

Working from home brings with it a whole heap of challenges when trying to stay motivated and perform at a suitable level. Easy access to the kitchen & couch make it difficult to focus on the job at hand, so these are some useful tips I would suggest to stay motivated in these tough times:

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude – Yes, times are tough, but you have a roof over your head and food in your stomach – its not that bad
  2. Create a work space, ideally an office, that makes it feel like you are at work (away from the TV & Kitchen)
  3. A healthy body equals a healthy mind – remember to move!
  4. Remember to switch off – when it’s time for family, turn off the laptop and focus on family
  5. Don’t be a stranger – don’t just hide behind emails. Phone your colleagues, catch up, talk some rubbish
  6. Sleep – its important so avoid the late night Netflix binge sessions
  7. Give yourself a to do list for the day then tick the items off as you complete them – you will feel satisfied
  8. Take time to rest – whether it be meditation, prayer or just reading a book and switching off. Turn off the phone, social media and calm the mind

Kiran Bhoolia from Santam is mentoring Thulani Ndlovu an Underwriter Assistant at SHA

Kiran and Thulani shared with us how the lockdown has impacted their Roots & Wings Journey:

Kiran: I don’t believe it will have a major impact, certainly a different way of working together. The current lockdown has proved to all of us – there are other ways of doing what we usually do. As the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’.
When faced with any major disruption or intervention that affects us in personal or work space , we re-prioritise, build new habits and develop new routines – it may take some time, but we certainly adapt to new ways.

Thulani: I have learned that nothing can stop me (not even lockdown) from being the best I can be, my self-development and career growth (through Roots & Wings) depends on me, the time and efforts I put into it. Although there are some things I can’t do; like physically meeting with my mentor and fellow mentees anymore, like the famous saying “When life give you lemons you make lemonade.” Tomorrow is not guaranteed, therefore make the most of today.

What Thulani has missed the most about her normal routine during the lockdown:

Just meeting up with other people, my fun runs/walks, being in the office with my colleagues, going to church, and just spending time with my friends and family.

Kiran’s advice to Thulani to keep motivated during the lockdown:

In our second session, under lockdown, interestingly we spent most of the time talking about the impact lockdown has had on our personal and working lives, including what our world will be like post lock down. After much discussions, the new reality would require us to stay motivated, focused and consciously require;

  • A mind shift change in the way we have always done things
  • Work and life balance (especially now – working from home)
  • Embrace the future way of work
  • Stay fit and healthy
  • Re-imagine and innovate ourselves to the ‘New Normal’