Ruth was appointed effective, June 2022. She has been with Sanlam GI for 7 years and was the General Manager prior to the appointment.
She previously served in various roles at ICEA Lion Insurance Company (U) Ltd and UAP -Old Mutual General Insurance Company before she joined Sanlam. With 16 years’ of experience in the Insurance industry, she has exceptional technical expertise including risk management, outstanding strategic business management skills and growth capabilities to deliver both short-term and long-term shareholder value.
1). Can you tell us about your journey to become the CEO of Sanlam General Uganda?
Having gotten my first job without an insurance background, it was fascinating to learn something new every day in all areas and I made it a point to focus on the business interests/career objectives and the opportunities I needed to take hold of in order to get me where I needed to go. I had to study insurance, so I enrolled for ACII, these exams were difficult, but I persisted and ensured that I continued even when I failed one paper. Below are some of the aspects that have helped on this journey:
- I identified gaps, specifically a confidence gap to ensure how I could improve myself in a male dominated industry and excel. I had to improve /develop myself to match the competitiveness within the industry. (Expertise, Competence Leadership, stakeholder Management). One builds confidence by being the expert at what you do. The onset was intimidating but I became intentional, such as taking on tasks that other people did not like or assumed were difficult. I believe there are no short cuts, and if you take these then you would not build an impactful career legacy.
- I defined my career Vision, Goals and Objectives – I needed to have clear goals and objectives of where I wanted to be and work towards it without obstructing others but allowing or carrying them along to be able to do what I am doing even better. With this, you can make the right decisions not because of a paycheck or money but because of what you need in the future, even though money is important. Excel example
- Focusing on business interests/career objectives helps us not to lose focus on the long-term goals, so even if I do not get the promotion that I wanted, what I have gotten does it drive my career objectives/goals or not. If it does, then keep it and if it does not, then look for what is available within or outside the organization that can lead you to achieve your career objectives and fulfilment while not stifling your growth to the next level
- Dedication – I can do it and if I do not know how to do it, I will ask and learn – The attitude had to be right.
- Commitment and Passionate. I became passionate about insurance in all its entirety.
I did not choose an option to like or dislike, I made myself conversant with most of the aspects/departments within Insurance. I love to be the solution and not the one who says it is impossible.
- Diligence: once you are committed and persistent, you often become thorough in handling your tasks which in turn makes you excellent at that role, so, for me mediocrity was not an option. I had to ensure I do my best at every job or position held at any one time with a positive attitude despite the environment. Therefore, this became my slogan to date, `Let what I do speak for me even in my absence.’
- Integrity and doing the right thing have been key drivers along this journey. Remember, the Accountability, and responsibility you hold while performing your tasks will be a steppingstone and above all God continues to uphold me on this journey
2). What lessons would you tell your younger self, from what you have learnt on this corporate journey
- There is always someone who can do what you are doing better, so you cannot stop
learning and being relevant. Ensure you support such a person and enable them to grow in that aspect so that you all succeed together. Be part of Digitization, and innovation and embrace change as an opportunity to soar to greater heights.
Life lessons for me along this journey:
- I am not Just a woman in Insurance but one who is passionate about the profession. Are you willing to serve and are you passionate about what you do within your industry/business or is it just a job? If it is just a job, then Satisfaction becomes difficult no matter what your employer offers. Let us always ponder on the latter in our current roles/ businesses and our future goals for sustainability
- Do not be too quick to accept the status Quo. We quickly accept the quick wins within the moment and do not focus on the long-term goals to get to where we ought to be. Often, we accept the status quo and do not apply ourselves to be the solution. A little sacrifice is a necessity and performance above expectation in work projects or assignments, our personal businesses is a pre-requisite.
“ Growth and Comfort do not Co-exist’’ Ginni, CEO IBM’’
- Along the corporate journey, I have learnt that in life one needs to Play positive politics through building relationships or networks, Outstanding Performance, good influence with exemplary leadership and excellent skills. Emotions do not work well as you climb the ladder. We need to be self-aware, emotionally intelligent and understand today’s customer evolves i.e., demands more value addition.
The Board, Management and staff of CICA-RE rejoice with OESAI as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary
3). Are there Gender stereotypes present in your daily life in Uganda?
These are a way of life and enormous. The notion is being alleviated but due to our culture and norms, people do not notice that they are gender biased.
The business environment at its inception may have had an imbalance in terms of gender at the top, but currently, we have seen a great number of ladies join different industries at lower levels, middle management and make their way up the ladder. Gender bias should never be the reason not to reach your potential. It is not a much-levelled ground yet with an increase of women in top positions ranging from 3% to 7% according to the 2022 Mckinsey report. Some companies have made it intentional to have a balanced inclusion of female staff at the middle, senior management and at board levels, but we need to be deliberate and purposeful about taking on the task. We must work slightly harder than the male person to prove our capabilities as we integrate work and family.
4). Nearly one billion women worldwide do not have access to financial services – Why is this a problem?
Uganda ranks first place with an entrepreneurship rate of 28%, and for every three small enterprises, one is run by a woman. This shows that women are involved in business profit making but lack trust in the financial sector. They would prefer to keep their hard-earned profits or capital where they believe they can control the various risks associated with cash.
Financial services have been made available through the adoption of different platforms like mobile money, agency banking and accessible commercial bank branches as well as investment products and services through the non-banking sector. However, illiteracy, fear, cultural norms, and lengthy documentation have been some of the deterring factors to feminine financial inclusion