Say HELLO to GWII’s new President… Catherine Pienaar

Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) is pleased to announce that Catherine Pienaar, has assumed the position of GWII President for 2020.

On behalf of Catherine and the GWII committee, we would like to thank Rianet Whitehead (2019 GWII President) for all her efforts in leading GWII during the past year. Rianet’s effort and contributions as President will always be appreciated.

Stepping in as the new President, Catherine tells us about herself, how she came to join the GWII and why she believes she is suited to the position of President.

Q.Tell us a little about yourself and your career in insurance.  

A. I started my career within the insurance industry ten days after matriculating! It was during my tenure at Lireas Holdings that I realised my passion for insurance. Some [several] years later, I found myself specializing in liability insurance, and to this extent, completed my Honours Degree in Insurance and Risk Management, and subsequently a Master of Commerce. I currently hold the position of Divisional Director: Commercial Crime & Cyber Risks, Medical Malpractice Indemnity and Financial Institutions at Camargue Underwriting Managers. Mom to a highly intelligent inquisitive tween and two fur-babies, and recently married to André Pienaar, I place high value on time spent with family and friends.

Q. How did you come to join the GWII?

A. Having attended some of the GWII events over the years and having a strong appreciation of the mission and values of GWII, I was most excited to apply for a position on the 2018 committee. Fortunately, they decided to take a chance on me, and as they say – the rest is history!

Q. What is the purpose of GWII? 

A. We endeavour to build a sustainable platform for all women in the insurance industry by offering appropriate opportunities to support the professional and personal advancement of women, through relevant networking and leadership programmes. At the same time, we give back to society and the environment by partnering with charitable initiatives that share our vision.

Q. Why do you believe you are suited to the position of President? 

A. I guess the fact that I have years in the industry under my belt, along with a past career as an events co-ordinator, and having been involved with the committee for the past two years, stands me in good stead as President. However, this is surpassed by my passion for the industry and women within it and wanting to make a difference.

Q.  In the President’s shoes… what qualities do you believe are important to have? 

A. It isn’t different to any other leadership role where it is vital to believe in what you are doing (and be passionate about it), to appreciate and encourage the talents and qualities of those supporting you in your role, and listen to your target audience. Naturally positions such as this are, to an extent, a labour of love, as we still have our full-time jobs and responsibilities (which have inevitably introduced us to GWII through our involvement in the industry; and afforded us the opportunity to be part of GWII – thank you Camargue!) – this means that committee members do commit a lot of personal time and need to juggle their time and commitments accordingly.

Q. No doubt you’re very proud of your institute. But is there anything you’d particularly like to improve or introduce during your tenure, and make it even better? In other words, what will you be bringing to the table? 

A.  GWII is constantly evolving and striving for improvement – in 2019 we introduced our LeaderWalks and CPD events – in response to members’ feedback. We found these to be extremely successful, and have included them on our 2020 calendar, along with our networking events and Mix n Mingles. We want 2020 to be like any other year, where we use prior learnings in order to really maximize the experience at all of our events. We are proud to announce that we will be holding our first ever Women’s Conference this year – watch this space!

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

A. Given that the industry has such a huge impact on everyone within it, it will be naïve to suggest for a moment that this isn’t the most important aspect. However, how this industry evolves, and transforms is at the core of what GWII is all about – it is here where we wish to support ladies in the industry and assist with furthering them and their positions in the industry. As for furthering myself, as previously mentioned, I have a tween and am newly (re)married – life’s lessons from these two bring such a huge amount of introspection and desire to be a better person – this is only compounded by the interactions which I have in my position at Camargue where I am continually learning and strive to be the best that I can be. GWII brings a whole different dynamic to my personal development – interaction with committee members (where I have met the most amazing women, and made amazing friends), to putting me out of my comfort zone in terms of interacting and networking with people whom I don’t know, and to having to try and convince the industry to invest in their female talent by supporting GWII!

Q. Any inspiring last words to our readers? 

A. I know that this phrase has been used several times over, but I really love it as it is so all-encompassing: Ubuntu – “I am because we are”. It’s derived from a Nguni word meaning “the quality of being human”. Ubuntu can be seen and felt in the spirit of willing participation, cooperation, warmth and openness. It speaks to the possibilities that open up when we work together towards a common cause, embracing those around us in acknowledging their strengths and our weaknesses, and combining these to only fortify our combined abilities.

Q. Your message to members? 

A. We are blessed to be in such an amazing, dynamic industry. Take a moment to meet those around you, listen to their stories and share yours. Embrace opportunities to meet new people, and experience new things. Be mindful to share your knowledge and pursue the furthering of your own. I will never forget a message my late-mom wrote in a ‘good luck for your exams’ card: “Good, better, best – never let it rest; until your good is better, and your better is your best!”.