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Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) recently chatted to Malgorzata (Gosia) Bennett, Solutions Developer at Genasys, about her journey and career in the financial services industry, how she balances personal and work life and what advice she would give to women in the industry.
A career journey
Tell us about your career in the insurance industry… how did you join the industry? Tell us about your journey.
As an immigrant from Europe who arrived in South Africa as a pre-teen, I grew up facing difficulties like language barriers, the difference in the way of life, and also, acceptance. As a young woman my goal was to travel, meet people and enjoy the experiences of different cities and cultures. In my mid-twenties, back in South Africa I wanted to get married, have children and settle in a career. Fast forward a couple of years, I found myself going through a divorce and financial difficulties. As a single mom I needed to find permanent employment, by chance a friend of mine introduced me to Genasys. I worked in an IT company before, with a basic IT background and experience. I must have made an impression as was given the opportunity to join Genasys. That is how my journey in the insurance industry began.
As a woman in the industry, what challenges and opportunities have you faced throughout your career?
No matter how difficult my situation seemed at the time, my path kept changing and growing into opportunities I didn’t expect. I started off as an Administrator, also doing HR and PA work but as the company grew, I was also able to grow too. I moved onto Helpdesk Administrator, then Technical Writer, and eventually my path changed totally, and I took up the role of a Solutions Developer. The challenges I faced was mainly fitting in, at a time when it was more male dominated, and also getting to know the industry better and our clients’ businesses. I was very fortunate that the people I work with have been so supportive, willing to help, and share their knowledge so that not just myself, but the company, achieved successes. I remember being part of this small business, that is now a company that is growing each year and is able to provide so many opportunities to their staff. I believe the biggest challenge most women face is believing in themselves and finding the strength of overcoming their own self-doubt to move forward.
What is rewarding about your career?
I find that after all this time I’m still learning each day, every item that I work on produces new challenges and opportunities to learn something new. As a Solutions Developer I have worked with many different people and have experienced various aspects of what our job involves… it is the dedication and hard work that provides our customers with the support and service required. Working with a team of amazing individuals, I can share not only my work experiences, but I am also able to relate to others on a more personal level, where we understand and support each other as friends and not just teammates. We all have families and difficulties that we face, that is why it is rewarding to be able to also assist others and be able to work as a team.
How do you maintain work and personal life balance? It must be challenging at times, especially for a woman who has such a demanding career.
Since my divorce, my life has been hectic. One doesn’t realise that doing everything on their own is much more difficult than doing things with someone else. As a single mom working full day, I have been the support system, the uber driver, the role model, the cook, the cleaner and the provider. I not only have to face work difficulties on my own, but also personal challenges that come along. Being in a routine and finding the balance of doing it all each day can be hard, but it can be done. I have grown not just as an individual but also as the best mom I can be. Again, believing in yourself and knowing that you can do it is what makes the difference, with time all things pass, and a new day comes along.
What advice would you give young females starting out a career in the industry?
The best advice I can give is, don’t over think it. If you feel overwhelmed just take it as it comes and get through each challenge as it presents itself. Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small, and know that you can do it. It is ok to seek help and ask for assistance, you don’t have to carry any difficulties on your own. Your success is the path that you follow each day and you will get to where you need to be.
What advice do you have for working mothers who are career driven?
Full time working moms are amazing, finding the time to be a career woman and to spend time with your children is the biggest challenge of all. Providing the right advice and support in this technology driven world, where you need to protect your kids from what they read and see on the internet and various apps, has brought on an even more demanding parent present situation. Also, where many women were able to stay home before, and look after the family, today, most of them don’t have a choice and need to work to provide the second income. From my experience, and from friends that I know who are working moms, the best advice I can give is to make time, be it in the evenings or on the weekends. Be present when you can. We all get wrapped up in daily routines and we don’t take time out, which we need to.
Working remotely for the past two months has been very different to what you are used to. How has Genasys made the transition of working remotely?
At Genasys, we have been lucky in the fact that we work on our laptops every day. We work at the office but then go home and connect remotely, and we are able to work without problems. So, the change to working remotely for most of us was not a new concept. Initially, it was a bit of a challenge to stick to the routine when you are not actually going into the office, but after a few days it just became a new routine. Staying at home has some pros and cons as any situation, but Genasys has made sure that we all stay in touch through the Teams app, that we have regular meetings and that we contact each other whenever assistance or support is needed , unless there is load shedding or the internet connection drops. I think most of us have adapted well. Personally, I am able to continue with my daily tasks and I haven’t been affected that much. I have spent a lot more time with my daughter, and overall, lockdown has been a positive experience.
Any final words, or words of wisdom you wish to share with your GWII members?
My mom was a very strong woman and she always said that God will never give you more than you can handle. Looking back, it is so true. We must be strong, believe in ourselves and in each other, and we can achieve what we want.
Malgorzata (Gosia) Bennett