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Q & A with Vuyo Lee, MMI GE: Brand, Stakeholder

Q & A with Vuyo Lee, MMI GE: Brand, Stakeholder
03-03-14 / Staff Writer

Q & A with Vuyo Lee, MMI GE: Brand, Stakeholder

How long have you been with MMI Holdings?

Three months
2.Which company did you work for before joining MMI Holdings, and what were your responsibilities?

I was at Mutual & Federal for three and a half years as Executive: Brand, Customer and Transformation.

Would you say your move to MMI Holdings is driven by your inner most desire for more exposure, greater challenges and responsibilities?

It was a tough decision given that I have worked for the same financial services group for nearly 10 years. But I felt MMI offered a good career opportunity in terms of the scope of the role and also to have exposure to a different organization.

4.What are your responsibilities in your current job and what do you enjoy about it?

I am responsible for providing the strategic direction and leadership for the Brand, Stakeholder Management and Sustainability portfolios within MMI. This involves positioning the MMI brand, overseeing and facilitating key stakeholder relationships and integrating sustainability practices in the MMI business. I enjoy the variety of the role, the different skills each aspect requires, and the various touch points the unit has with different divisions and people in the organisation.

5.What has been the worst and tricky challenge you have ever had to deal with as Executive General Manager at M&F - Internally or Externally?

Every role and organization has its highlights and challenges. Generally speaking, the challenge I have faced as a leader in various roles has been keeping people motivated and focused through a time of great change. As a marketer there is always the classic challenge of being able to increase the investment in branding and marketing activities in an organization. But these are good challenges as there are always learnings one takes away from those experiences which further help in honing leadership and influencing abilities.

M&F's brand visibility grew rapidly in the years you presided over the portfolio. Would you attribute this to the strategies you brought into the seat? And will you be taking the same strategic thinking around brand to the MMI Holdings? Please share the secret with us?

"I was fortunate to be part of an executive team that was willing to support the brand strategy my team developed. During my time at Mutual&Federal, we undertook a brand refresh to make it more relevant and prevalent in consumers"minds with regards to what it stood for. We also improved our marketing activation - I am particularly proud of the Mutual & Federal Premier InterSchools rugby sponsorship we secured. MMI is a different organization so I will need to tailor my approach to meet its requirements, but it all starts with having a solid strategy and a strong, passionate team to execute on it.

Most senior executives join new companies with their own plans or strategies. Do you have a new one for MMI Holdings or are you still baking it in the oven?

This is a new role in the company and as a new executive, I am focusing my efforts on understanding the business and its strategy and engaging with different stakeholders so that I can ensure that the activities of all my functions will add value to MMI. So yes, there is still a lot of planning happening and then building of the capacity to deliver on it.

8.The year 2012 had disasters that included the Mpumalanga floods, St Francis Bay Fires, hail storms in Gauteng (East and West Rand). Globally, we saw hurricane Sandy throw life out of gear in New York, cyclone Bopha ravaged the Philippines and left close to a thousand people dead, cyclone Nilam in Tamil Nadu, the Beijing flash floods, the Uttarakashi flash floods - in all these disasters - the insurance sector pays out billions of dollars in claims. Do you foresee such a future trend as a result of, perhaps things like climate changes?

Adverse climate conditions are a reality in our times and it's important as an industry we understand the impact and severity clearly and have solutions to either directly combat it or minimize its impact on our industry. I was caught driving in a hailstorm in Centurion a few weeks ago and my first thought was I'm lucky I am insured, which is a constant reminder to me that this is the great role that the industry serves, paying claims in times of hardship such as those brought forward by extreme weather conditions.

In the past 24 months, we have seen an increasing interest from the National Treasury and the FSB to regulate the insurance industry in a bid to protect the consumer and ensure fair treatment. What plans or instruments is MMI Holdings putting in place to ensure that its customers are treated fairly through the value chain?

We are fully committed to the spirit of the Treating Customers Fairly legislation and have firm plans in place to ensure that we meet the outcomes. It is important to MMI Holdings that consumers feel that they could trust the financial services industry and that everything we do is geared towards adding value to the customer and ensuring their financial wellness.

10 Do you hold any Board memberships outside MMI Holdings?

I am a Board member of a non-profit organisation called Karos and Kambro based in Pretoria. They run camps and perform theater productions that address issues that face our youth such as alcohol and drug abuse, violence and teenage pregnancy. I am passionate about corporate social investment activities that address youth development and education, so this is one way I am trying to give back and hope it will pay forward.

11What qualifications do you hold - your specialty?

B Comm (Honours) in Marketing, Masters of Business Administration

12.Are you married? How many children?

I am married to Mike and have a 1 year old daughter, Diarra.

13.As a career driven woman, a mum and a wife, how do you find the balance between family and career demands?

I have a fantastic support system at home so that helps. I used to be chronically awful at work-life balance, but now that I have a little one, I've made more of an effort, so weekends are family and me time.

14.During your spare time what other activities to you partake in (hobbies)?

I play golf, dine out, watch films and tv series or catch a live music or comedy show.

15.What passion do you see yourself pursuing in life after, say, retirement?

I fancy myself tutoring Maths or being involved in an organization that focuses on education in the Sciences. I would travel extensively, play the piano again and who knows, one day I'll get to play with my grandchildren!

Once again, thank you for your time Vuyo. We wish you and MMI Holdings all the best in 2014!

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