Reflections of GWII’s Chairperson… Nicky Eveleigh

2017 heralded a change in the Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) committee with Nicky Eveleigh stepping in as the new Chairperson.

Her abundance of energy and dedication to the organisation is never ending and having served as a Chairperson for the past two years, in which she steps down at the end of 2018, she looks back to where it all began and what the future may hold.

Q. How did you come to join the GWII and why do you believe you were suited to the position of Chairperson?

A. I heard that Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) offered a networking opportunity for women, which I found refreshing and exciting. I attended the first event at Emerald on 22 May 2013 and was blown away by what the ladies were doing for women in the industry. I joined GWII in June 2014.

Shortly after that, I was able to assist Charlene Webster (2015/2016 Chairperson) in the “Women at Work” function which was sponsored by Innovation Group. Getting involved in every aspect of the arrangements from the food, to the décor and the entertainment, was challenging but exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. GWII was looking for sub-committee members and I immediately put my CV forward and was successful.

I was on the committee for three years and after 36 years in the business world I believed that there were several lessons I had learnt and attributes that would make me suitable to be the Chairperson for the 2017 to 2018 tenure. I have a passion for developing people, especially women. I knew that everything I had learnt would allow me to invest in the lives of women in the industry, whether it was through planning an event, motivating women by being a mentor and a leader, or getting sponsorship.

Q. In the Chairperson’s shoes… what has been the most rewarding experience so far?

A. Seeing the growth in women and the glow that they exude after they have been to one of our events. These range from networking functions, the Leader Walk in partnership with the 30% Club where the ladies learn from executives and board members of different companies, the Women in Leadership Development Course that has changed my life and so many other women’s lives, the pop-up events, the Intern Buddy programme, and so much more.

Q. As a Chairperson, what are some of the challenges you have had to overcome?

A. There were numerous challenges that I faced but I believe that each one of them has allowed me to grow and develop as a person. As with most institutions, the biggest challenge is finding sufficient sponsorship for the events we host each year and dealing with the complexity of organising events for such a diverse group. Our membership has grown to over 1544.

This growth means that we need to find venues that can cater for more ladies. This is an ongoing challenge that the GWII committee, as a team, constantly addresses. We want to thank our generous sponsors, as without them, we would not be able to do what we do.

Q. What are some of the greatest accomplishments you have achieved as Chairperson for the GWII?

A. Where I am right now, I believe that life is a constant work-in-progress and that all moments, the monumental huge ones and the small quiet ones, all makeup what my greatest accomplishments have been. I also believe that what I have achieved since I have been the Chairperson for the GWII would not have been possible without the amazing ladies that I have had around me - the GWII committee. Without them, we would not have accomplished anything, so I would like to re-word this to ‘Our Greatest Accomplishments’. What our members have said sums up what our accomplishments have been when asked what they liked about GWII:

  • Being able to network and mingle in a relaxed setting, knowing you'll walk away inspired;
  • Being able to support a charity;
  • GWII brings women in the industry together;
  • The amazing women chosen to speak about relevant topics at the GWII events;
  • Attending as many events as possible has helped me develop a sense of confidence where I had none. I want my female colleagues to see the change in me, to motivate them to join me at each of these events, and to realise the tremendous benefit to be gained as a result. I will remain a firm supporter and member of GWII for years to come;
  • GWII gives women a platform in the industry;
  • It has built me and motivated me;
  • GWII is designed to promote and support equal rights in the industry and a reminder for us to support each other;
  • GWII’s ability to empower, strengthen and uplift women;
  • All the inspiring, strong and motivated women I get to see, speak to and mingle with;
  • The fact it is an inspirational and educational platform that promotes great and relevant discussions; and
  • The fact that any woman in the insurance industry is welcome to join.

Q. Being involved with the GWII suggests furthering yourself, your peers and your industry. Which of the three is most important to you?

A. Personally, all three of these go hand in hand, one is not more important to me than the other. Being part of the GWII, previously as a committee member, and then as Chairperson, has definitely grown me in more ways than I could have imagined. Growth of my peers, specifically women, would ultimately result in growth in the industry through leadership and development of women. So, I would say if I was pushed to select one of the three, the most important for me is the growth of my peers, as this will result in both furthering the industry and myself.

Q. Any last words you wish to share, as you step down from the position of Chairperson?

A. I would like to leave the following words which really spoke to me: “We need to lift each other up, not drag each other down. We need to celebrate each other’s successes and share each other's pain. We need to take one giant, collective fist to the glass ceiling. We can get there if we help each other through support, shared knowledge, mentorship and love. Connect, not separate. We are women. We are not a group to bend and break and twist and turn. We are a force to be reckoned with." (Facebook: Amy Poehler's Smart Girls).