The best relationships are those that are mutually beneficial – such as Fulcrum’s with Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII).
A third of Fulcrum’s female employees are GWII members, and this year four of them have benefited from the association’s development initiatives. And a fifth has emerged as a leading light in the GWII, giving back to the industry.
Three of our colleagues, Yolanda England, Anita Watson and Candice van Rensburg, participated in the GWII’s six-month Women in Leadership Development (WiLD) programme. Its aim is to develop key leadership skills and characteristics in women in the insurance industry, focusing on the topics of personal mastery, communications, conflict management, finance and the future of leadership.
“The course not only gives you insight into yourself but also gives you the skills to understand and manage different personalities and situations that feature in one’s life on a daily basis, in a positive and productive manner,” says Van Rensburg.
“It helps with customer services, tough meetings and conversation and ultimately a better environment in general. Its not what you have to say, its how you say it.”
Says England: “It was empowering to meet so many women in the insurance industry and to go on the leadership journey together. Personally and professionally, I have benefited greatly. In a personal capacity, the course helped me through a very difficult time.”
And her biggest takeaway from WiLD? “How to handle conflict and difficult conversations. To understand how previous experiences play a big role in how a person reacts in a current situation.”
Common experience was also an important discovery for Watson, who says, “It has been an amazing process learning and listening to ladies from across the industry. The best of all was to realise that you are not unique in the issues that you face, day to day. We all have things and events that have shaped us as we have been growing up, and as adults, and it is these events and how we deal with them that influences our behaviour in our daily interactions.”
Key for her was learning that moving with the times is critical: “The biggest learning experience I think that can be used to help Fulcrum, GWII and the short-term insurance industry is that we need to be able to better supply dynamic products, and solutions to all our customers. The future is heading towards us very quickly, and if we are not able to meet the challenges we will face head on with simple working solutions, we will not be able to survive.”
The fourth beneficiary of the GWII’s initiatives in 2018 is Dieketseng (Dee) Motsoetla, who participated in the association’s Intern Buddy programme. She was mentored by four women during the year: Venessa Buitendag, divisional executive at Marsh; Rene van Coller, national claims manager for One; Yolandi Cook, sales executive at iPlatform; and Clodagh da Paixao, head of brand marketing for Fulcrum.
“Every single day we are learning something new and having the privilege of having a mentor, where you can bounce something off quickly, makes it meaningful,” says Motsoetla, adding that she started learning from day one, when the participants attended an etiquette workshop. Another highlight was a workshop in which participants learned “how to unlock our financial freedom and brace ourselves to have the courage to act despite our fears”.
“I am grateful to the GWII committee for having started this programme to assist young ladies in the insurance industry to find their place, and making it easy for us to interact with professionals within the industry. I cannot wait to share the knowledge I have gotten from this programme with others – changing one girl child’s life at a time,” says Motsoetla.
“I want to thank my mentors for the role they played throughout the programme in helping and making me comfortable, regardless of my experience within the industry.”
Fulcrum’s Michelle-Dee Coetzee, in turn, has given back to women in insurance through her service to the GWII – where she has been a member, mentee, mentor and committee member, and was recently appointed the vice-president – this year (also see our A tale of two Dees article about her and Motsoetla).
Her role means more learning and development for her, she says: “For me, the role of the vice-president is positioned perfectly to learn from the experiences and expertise of the current president and deputy, while looking for new ways to forge my own future path to lead. This will mean lots of dedicated time to learn, strategise, work and network, so that I can be the best I can be for GWII.”
And she says there are exciting times ahead for the organisation.
“Under the leadership of Rianet (Whitehead, the GWII president), the GWII enters a new era with a refined vision, value proposition, new portfolios and refreshed branding. We will see a streamlined annual calendar with the focus on high-touch networking events, a new leadership progamme, collaborations with other industry associations, and CPD-driven workshops.
“I am excited to lead the Transformation portfolio and the boardroom discussions around gender mainstreaming in management positions. This will be a first for GWII and it is also the first time our gentlemen colleagues will be invited to participate at our events, to contribute their experience and expertise to the round table discussions. Watch this space!”