By Koketso Mamabolo
Lulu Rasebotsa believes in the positive impact entrepreneurs can have on the world and is fortunate to be in a position which allows her to do exactly that. The CEO of FMI, a division of Bidvest Life, moved to South Africa looking to forge a new path. We ask her a few questions about her work and mission.
Please tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
I joined FMI from Liberty Life Botswana, where I was managing director for the past 10 years. I was about to turn 50, so it was the perfect time to pivot my career and continue living my legacy. FMI is a division of Bidvest Life, and Bidvest exists ‘to turn ordinary companies into extraordinary ones’ – and that’s why I’m here.
What does it mean to you to be the first woman in your position?
I don’t think I’m here because I’m a woman. Having said that, there are too few women who occupy these positions in the industry. While this is changing, it’s not changing fast enough. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that women are represented in these seats, not because we are women, but because we have the necessary qualifications, skills and we are more than capable.
What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most and why?
I’m driven by my love for life and by always striving to do the best in all I do. In my field, I’m passionate about how we ‘show up’ when people are at their most vulnerable and how we can ease the burdens of some of the most difficult realities of life.
In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the finance sector? What does the future of finance look like?
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has had a massive effect on the finance sector, and specifically the insurance sector. For us at FMI, as income protection specialists, the pandemic has created a greater awareness of the importance of protecting your salary against critical illness and death. What’s the future of finance? If we keep using technology smartly, listen to our stakeholders, and stay relevant, we believe 2022 will be an even better year for the industry.
How can we accelerate transformation in South Africa?
Looking specifically at my industry, diversity and inclusion remain a challenge. Transformation must be included in all our business strategies, and this should be everyone’s responsibility as transformation is the very thread that holds the fabric of a business together. This starts right at the top – a company’s leadership team must be more representative of the demographics of the country. We should support and harness diverse talent within organisations to ensure proper succession planning in order to build sustainable businesses.
Why do you believe supporting entrepreneurs is important and how do you think we can go about it?
Entrepreneurs bring about change through their innovative ideas which can positively impact their communities and create jobs. As FMI, entrepreneurs are at the heart of what we do. We provide them with financial solutions that give them peace of mind knowing that whatever happens, their hard-earned income is protected against the risk of a temporary injury or critical illnesses and that their businesses can continue operating.
What are the qualities you believe make for a great business leader?
One should have the business acumen and patience to build a sustainable business, rather than looking to make a quick buck. Self-development is also key: reading, engaging with like-minded people and building strong personal networks.
What are your plans for the future?
I believe FMI has a unique place in the South African life insurance sector. My vision is to transform the organisation in every way possible and realise the company’s goal of being the leading provider of income protection in the country.
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