GRACE WINTER – MARKETING MANAGER AT FMI What is YOUR SPICE4LIFE? My spice for life is my family, by job, my amazing team of people I get to work with, and my faith. I really do believe in the saying “love what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. Now I’m not saying that everything is always rainbows and butterflies – in work and life there are always things we have to do that aren’t always fun or exciting – but the key is finding the purpose and passion in what you do and why you do it! How did you do it? I am in the marketing and brand-building industry, and I have made sure that I’ve found a brand and company (FMI) that I feel adds real value to people’s lives and makes a true difference. We ensure that people’s lives are secure, as well as their future dreams and plans, by paying their income when they are unable to work due to an injury or illness. We also ensure income benefits as an alternative to lump sum Life cover – which means after families lose a breadwinner, their income doesn’t stop you don’t have to worry about where the next monthly pay-check is coming from. We have managed to make insurance (which is typically a grudge-purchase) meaningful and easy to understand, and the story of our brand and purpose is amplified when people whose income we insure, are able to get back on their feet because we were able to step in when they needed us. We are currently celebrating an amazing and truly moving campaign called #21Lives, that showcase the powerful stories of 21 incredible people who despite their illness or injury have gone on to do amazing things. What were your challenges? I have always struggled with work-life balance. It’s tough to make enough time for family, life, travel and exercise when you lead a very busy team and have such a passion for what you do! So this has always been my greatest challenge and something I want to get better at. What keeps you going? The people I work with, my husband’s love and support, and passion for what our company does keeps me going through those crazy times! What advice would you give to others who want to follow? Work hard, do what fuels your fire with the people that fuel your fire. Always be humble, but always be brave and trust your instincts! Smile, and take time out for yourself once in a while! Management Profile What is your full name and age? Grace Winter, Age 25 What is your title within the company? Marketing Manager at FMI How long have you worked within this position and what are your overall views on the company? I started working with FMI in 2014, initially consulting for Brad, our CEO in terms of guiding Brand Strategy, content and design. A year later I started full time at FMI, and haven’t looked back! I never ever thought I’d land up in insurance (always wanted to work for a fashion or décor brand), but I think FMI truly has a completely fresh approach to business – from our culture to our values we embody, to the way we build risk insurance products in such a way that we meet real people’s needs, when they need us most. Please provide us with a brief education and career history/CV. I completed my high school education at a phenomenal, world-class school in the multi-cultural city of Abu Dhabi, UAE. This really set me up as a young women to understand people, diverse cultures, and have first-hand experience of trend-setting and brand building in a city that is very future-focused. I then returned to SA and studied at The Vega School of Brand Communications, majoring in Brand Strategy and Visual Communications. Vega set me up with real-life briefs and work experiences so when I finished my studies I felt I was very much ready for ‘the real working world’. I completed many internships during my studies, which I believe landed me a first great job working for digital marketing expert agency, Quirk (now Mirum). After a year at Quirk I decided to start taking on my own clients and went the freelance/consultant route. This is when I first met FMI and started working together. What would you say are distinguishing/differentiating factors between FMI and other industry competitors? Being experts in income protection for 21 years has allowed us to become experts in paying regular claims and building long-lasting relationships with our clients. Unlike insurance companies that merely pay once-off lump-sums, at FMI we build close, real relationships with every single client in claim as we pay their regular monthly income when they can’t work due to injury/illness, and even paying the monthly income to families in the case of death. Our product offering has evolved from only Income Protection benefits to offering Critical Illness and Life cover as well. However, due to our core belief in securing monthly income benefits, our products across the board are fundamentally different, and in my opinion, far more logigcal and easy to plan for, than benefits offered by other life/risk insurance providers. What do you think are the top 3 selling points of FMI? Our excellent product innovation – being so easy to plan for and meeting all the needs of our clients. Our warm, empathetic employees that make up who we are Our “uncorporate” culture that is approachable, authentic and entrepreneurial in spirit What is the biggest challenge that the company faces at the moment? We are in a period of massive growth. We’ve recently been bought by Bidvest, which means we have the capital to grow as fast as we want to. Our challenge is to never lose the personal, human-centric nature of our brand and people as we expand. Before anything, securing our healthy culture and values are most important to our leaders at FMI. How is FMI trying to overcome these challenges? We have a very clear people development plan, and have recently hired a People Development and Culture expert to help us keep sight of this at all times. We’ve also decided to keep as flat a leadership style as possible, so that no matter who you are, you always feel like you can approach the leaders of the company. Are there any interesting industry trends that you have identified in 2017 so far? Please elaborate and explain how does it impact your product/service offering? Certainly. Our biggest project/campaign we are working on at the moment is called 21 Lives, which is both a celebration of our 21 years of FMI and an iniative to share real client stories from our past that advisers can use in their client conversations. Storytelling is a massive trend in brand-building and advertising, and we feel like our FMI stories have the power to ignite a change in how insurance is perceived and sold. The stories will resonate with any working individual and help raise the awareness of the importance of income cover. Describe characteristics you think every person in management in your field needs to have in order to be successful? Be empathetic at all times. As much as a colleague or employee may be getting on your nerves – always assume good faith and try to understand their perspective or behivaiour. You never know what someone else is going through in their personal or work lives. Be servant-hearted. As long as my employees know that I’m always there for them – to support them through challenges and help them grow in their careers, the commitment and attitude to their work life will be tangible. Be consistant and brave in your decisions. It’s okay to change your mind if it’s for a good reason, but I’ve noticed that the minute I show inconsisancy, in terms of decision-making, leadership style, or approach to work, the team feels stressed and uneasy. This is a tough one, and something I am working on daily – but try to put sytems and processes in place that makes your team feel clear in what they need to do and how they go about doing it. Empower people to try, and fail. I am a control-freak, so this is a great challenge in terms of managing others, but the more I try to micro-mange and dictate the way something should be done, the more disheartened your team will feel. Identify when you need to step in and when it’s okay to let go and let people try, fail and learn – and then most imporatnly, chat about the outcome and work on better solutions together if necessary. What would you say has been the highlight of your time at FMI? Although my official role is in branding and marketing, my highlight of my time has been in setting up our induction programme and training people through becoming FMI brand ambassadors. The energy and exciting in the room is almost tangible, and I love that people love working at FMI. How often do you travel for business and where to? I travel about once a month, visiting or training our sales team and advisers. Typically twice a year we’ll do larger road-show events, and these are always lots of fun, and a great few weeks for team-building. Who is your role model or someone who inspires you and why? This is a tricky one. I have so many people I look up to for different reasons – have a few women at church; my sister (an occupational therapist who runs a non-profit special needs school; my boss, mentor and CEO at FMI – Brad Toerien; my highly intelligent and dynamic mother; and late grandmother – the epitome of grace and kindness. Do you have a partner and kids? What are their names and your children’s’ ages (if applicable)? I have a wonderful, supportive husband, James Winter. No kiddies yet! Do you have any hidden talents that people don’t know about? I love dancing, I did ballet for 17 years, and I also love painting on the weekends. Where do you currently live/reside? I currently live in Durban North, KZN, and our head office is in Umhlanga. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.