13-10-23 / Sisanda Ndlovu
Nine leadership questions for Prabashini Moodley, MD, Old Mutual Corporate
To date I've been what you could call an Old Mutual lifer, having been privileged to receive a bursary at 18 then, post university graduation, hop-scotched my way through various parts of the organisation over the last almost 22 years.
1. For how long have you been with Old Mutual Corporate as MD?
Four (4) years now
2. How have your previous roles within OM and outside of OM prepared you for this current role .... Any challenges, highlights or learnings?
My previous roles have provided great learning experiences and exposure to various aspects of insurance and financial services. The right attitude is very important – don't only look out for the next promotion but evaluate opportunities in terms of what you can contribute and what you can get out in terms of skills, experience or exposure.
I've come to value the importance of solid foundational experience in the more technical aspects of financial services and how this sets you up to operate at a more strategic level later on. There is also no substitute for commitment and hard work! Equally valuable has been the opportunity to learn from seasoned individuals and leaders with different but equally effective styles. It has helped me in the development of my own leadership style.
3. What would you say are the top qualities of an effective leader?
The ability to balance multiple perspectives – short term / long term; customer/employer/shareholder while still driving a coherent strategy; The ability to communicate with a broad range of stakeholders and gain buy in; The ability to be vulnerable – which includes hiring people smarter than yourself and admitting when you are wrong to then course correct.
4. What would you say are OM Corporate's top priority areas for the next year?
The impending Two Pot legislation is a massive regulatory change in our space. We aim to not only be operationally ready for compliance but more importantly to guide our clients and members through this transformational retirement industry change in a way that enables them to make the right decisions. In addition we constantly look for ways to improve outcomes for our customers and will be driving our newer solutions including primary health, member wellbeing, Remchannel and SMEgo which have been developed by listening to what customers need.
5. As a leading global insurance brand, how do you attract and retain talent? And how can the insurance industry better retain talent and skills?
Clarity and consistency of the brand purpose helps; and then an environment that allows individuals to develop and grow their professional careers while contributing to something that's bigger than themselves; off course competitive remuneration and incentives are a given. As an industry we have to shake any fuddy duddy boring perceptions and better tell the story around what we enable for customers and the meaningful work that is possible.
6. How do you see technology playing a much more significant role in how insurance products are developed and distributed in the next few years?
Technology is already playing a very significant role and any incumbent who has not recognised this risks being left behind. Machine learning and data analytics in particular are transforming pricing of products and quantification of risk. On the distribution side technology can and is enabling human interactions that are more real time and value adding than administrative.
7. What would you point out as key areas of concern for the insurance industry (employee benefits/ retirement) in the next three to five years?
We should all be concerned about Climate change and what it is doing to risk assessment and management. Making some risks uninsurable which goes to the very heart of our existence. While we see this more immediately in the short term insurance space over time this is likely to increasingly impact health and wellbeing and hence life and disability insurance. In an economy like South Africa we have a high concentration of activities involving fossil fuels – and hence a large number of jobs and investements linked to this. What does it mean for the individuals linked to those jobs (and hence their employee benefits and retirement prospects) as we grapple with climate change.
The (lack of) sustainable economic growth in South Africa is another concern and what that means for employment opportunities and hence employee benefits. Beyond these macro challenges policy certainty and pace and unintended impact, of often well intentioned, regulatory change is something we should engaging on more and better.
8. If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
You are brave but you can be braver still! It'll be worth it.
9. What is the one book you would recommend to your audience, and why?
I really enjoyed the Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen but the book I'd recommend is one I discovered a few years later called The Innovator's Solution also by the late Prof Christensen. It builds on the Innovators Dilemma and gives practical ways to think about business growth in what can initially feel like no growth situations.