UCT GSB alumna Philisiwe Precious Nduli, named as one of the Top 200 Young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian in 2018, is passionate about widening access to financial services — and ensuring that those services make the world a better place.
Philisiwe Precious Nduli is highly motivated and passionate about business having societal impact, particularly when it comes to financial services. She says, “my focus is on access to financial services — educating people around the products that are out there and making sure that those products are designed to help people.”
As Head of Technical Marketing at Discovery Insure her work centres on transforming the technical details of Discovery’s capabilities such as operations, systems and actuarial risk into a marketable product. She explains, “essentially, technical marketing focuses on product positioning — how to take a product to market — but underlying that is deep research, thought leadership and analysis into areas such as behavioural economics.”
“For example, South Africa has terrible road safety statistics and what I find most rewarding about my job is that we are changing that by helping people to drive better through telematics and incentives.”
An Actuarial Science graduate, and with an Honours degree in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management, Philisiwe took the decision to reposition her career with an MBA at the GSB in 2014-16. “I wanted exposure in terms of broader strategy, and to explore the linkages between business, government and society as this holds the key to solving many societal problems,” she says. “I specialised my MBA in social innovation and emerging market economies which are my areas of interest.”
The MBA led her to a strategy role at Santam Insurance as a Strategic and Market Intelligence Manager before being approached by Discovery for her current position. Previously she worked as an Investment Product Specialist at Old Mutual and as a Product Actuarial Analyst at Nedgroup Life.
Philisiwe believes that her passion for social innovation has drawn all the different threads of her career and studies together. She reflects, “during the MBA my focus was on access to financial services and my thesis was around getting more people to save. My current role focuses on short-term insurance, so the issue is still around access, it’s just a different area of the sector. More broadly, I am interested in playing a more influential role in driving change in the industry - making it more accessible to young people, people of colour, and women.”
During the MBA Philisiwe travelled to Geneva for GNAM week, visiting the World Business Council of Sustainable Development and The World Economic Forum. This shifted her perspective in terms of sustainability and social innovation. “It was a phenomenal experience,” she says, “being able to gain a truly global perspective on relevant issues is an honour, but it also showed me how to take this global view on board but still be grounded in African solutions for African problems. The GNAM experience was certainly a key part of my leadership journey.”
Looking back on the MBA experience, she says, “what the MBA really brought home to me is that the world is getting more complex. To deal with this, we need to do two things. First, as leaders we need to be socially relevant. Secondly, we need to deal with complexity in how we look at things and in how we bring different elements together understanding that everything is interlinked. This is regarded as a systems approach to thinking. The MBA certainly helps with that from a technical perspective.”
Find out more about the MBA programme at the UCT Graduate school of Business here