Q: Being involved with an insurance institute suggests furthering yourself, your peers and your industry. Which of the three is most important to you?
A: All 3 are important, however, the continuous development of the industry is most important. We must be concerned about the sustainability and long-term viability of our industry. It is critical that we attract, develop and retain skills in this industry so that this industry continues to contribute significantly to the country’s GDP. This way the industry will continue to employ South Africans and put bread and butter on their tables.
Q: To which kinds of people should the insurance industry be offering career opportunities? How do you see your institute helping to make this happen?
A: Our country is very diverse and the institute embraces that diversity. All South Africans are important and they all need an opportunity to build their careers and to be contributing to society. Having said that, we cannot ignore that the apartheid system caused a big imbalance to our nation and we are still suffering the consequences. This industry has not been immune to these consequences. As a response, the IIG has programmes such as the General Management Programme (GMP previously known as ILDP) that aims to develop young leaders while also trying to assist in transforming the middle to senior management layer of the industry. We believe that we are making strides and the industry is starting to reflect the demographics of this country.
Q: If you had to make an elevator pitch to someone on why they should belong to an insurance institute, what would you say to them before the lift doors open and they’re gone forever?
A: This is a very vibrant, youthful industry with so many layers to it. Belonging to the institute helps members to grow their knowledge base about this industry. They get exposed to different types of insurance and the professional bodies that are within it. The institute also helps to expose members to its vast and diverse community where one can grow their personal brand, professional network and connect with people from different companies within the industry. The institute tries to put systems in place that make it possible for the insurance community to coach and mentor its young as well as ensure that skills and knowledge for people in the industry remains relevant and up to date.
Q: Covid-19 hit the global insurance industry hard in 2020, with great uncertainty, increased business risk and huge losses. What can and are institutes such as yours doing to support insurance professionals in these difficult times?
A: 2020 was a difficult year for all and its impact on business was huge. It will take some time for most business to recover. The IIG is very cognisant of this fact and we have for this reason tried to make sure that our 2021 offerings are sensitive to this. To this end,
Q: Staying on Covid-19, this is an issue that will be with us for some time still. What is your prediction around how the insurance industry will respond to it for the foreseeable future?
A: This industry has shown that it has gradually embraced the TCF principles by how we have treated our customers with premium holidays and other initiatives to help the financially strained customer. The industry will have to continue to be more flexible when it comes to the customer in these times. We have to build relevant and financially viable solutions that speak to the customer. Today’s customer is different from the customer pre-covid. He/she is working from home, facing potential job loss and concerned about morbidity of self, family and colleagues and therefore would opt to have flexible, technological solutions that will match their needs.
Q: Technological advances and direct are two of the biggest drivers of change in how insurance is bought and managed. Both are here to stay – so how does your institute help members to be future-fit?
Q: What is the smartest thing you’ve ever seen an insurance professional do?
A: I am impressed by insurance professionals who think customer first and bottom line second. I am also moved by insurance professionals that give back to the industry and to their communities – when accountants in the industry visit schools to tutor learners in accounting for example. This kind of thing keeps the industry relevant and top of mind in communities.
Q: No doubt you’re very proud of your institute. But is there anything you’d particularly like to improve or introduce during your tenure, and make it even better?
A: I am extremely proud of the IIG and what it has accomplished. The industry has been more concerned about building technical competence in the past. What I am hoping to improve is to bring a lot more awareness regarding behavioural competencies that are needed in order to grow and evolve as an industry. It has been said that behavioural competencies are more critical now in order for businesses to survive. This is why we will be piloting the 2-day course that will be facilitated by GIBS’ Jeff Chen on Problem Solving, Critical Thinking and Innovation.
Secondly, IST skills also need a more dedicated focus. Technology is no longer a thing of the future, however, South Africans and the STI have not brought in initiatives to develop these skills. With this programme we are hoping that young IT professionals in the industry can take what they have learnt during their qualification and link it to the Short-Term insurance industry in a way that will bring new innovative solutions
Q: Name one person in the insurance industry who truly inspires you and tell us why.
A: This is a tough question as a number of different people inspire me for different reasons. I will name 2 that come to mind immediately –
Henriette Senekal – As CEO, she runs and directs the business while also playing a fully hands on role as mother and wife. All of those roles are very demanding
Thokozile Mahlangu – She doesn’t give up even in disparaging circumstances.
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