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Glamour exclusive with newly appointed FMI executive Lulu Rasebotsa

The recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of life insurer FMI, a division of Bidvest Life, Lulu Rasebotsa, is an experienced financial services industry leader who has a wealth of expertise.

The dynamic Lulu has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, including time in underwriting, and has steered diverse financial services businesses in Botswana and South African markets.

She joined FMI early last month after going through rigorous selection processes at the financial services company.

Rasebotsa comes from Liberty Life Botswana, where she was the managing director for at 10 least years.

Lulu, as she is affectionately known by both colleagues and family, describes herself as a mother, daughter, sister and friend.

The 50-year-old, says her day-to-day work includes setting strategic direction for the organisation and managing the company’s overall objectives.

“My drive is profitability, to deliver on shareholders’ expectations; and look after stakeholder relationships, including customers, employees, the Board, the Regulator and the media. It is also my role to conduct business in a socially responsible manner.”

Glamour South Africa, caught up with Lulu, to chat about her recent career move, financial tips and her role as the first woman to lead the company.

What made you join FMI?

The timing was impeccable! I had spent 10 years growing Liberty Life Botswana and I was about to turn 50, so it was the perfect time to pivot my career and continue living my legacy. FMI is a division of Bidvest Life, and Bidvest exists ‘to turn ordinary companies into extraordinary ones’ – and that’s why I’m here.

What is your vision for the company and how are you planning on making it a reality?

My vision is to transform the organisation in every way possible. I’ll do this by combining my business acumen with social relevance, innovation and velocity.

What drives you, and what are you passionate about in your field?

I’m driven by my love for life and by always striving to do the best in all I do. In my field, I’m passionate about how we ‘show up’ when people are at their most vulnerable and how we can ease the burdens of some of the most difficult realities of life.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to deal with professionally, and how did you deal with them?

In recent times, my biggest challenge has been leading through the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic while still remaining profitable. This meant remaining true to my leadership beliefs of empathy, listening, being present, trust, and collaboration.

From a being a top executive at Liberty Life in Botswana and transferring to South Africa must have been a big thing both personally and professionally, now tell us what are some of the cultural shocks you've experienced so far, and how are you dealing with those?

It’s certainly been a big change, but I embrace change and adapt easily. It’s not the first time I’ve made such a move - I previously did a three-year stint in South Africa when I was in my 30s.

The only thing, which is not so much a shock, but does stand out for me, is how everybody assumes that because I am black, I must speak isiZulu.

Black women who are in leadership in your industry are very few, what do you think mostly contributes to this?

I think many women suffer from self-doubt and this is not because of their own doing.

What do you think should be done to systematically address these challenges?

Women should be coached to put themselves out there, to have and own their voices, and to take up their seats at the table.

South Africa is facing a skills shortage problem, especially in finance, so what are the short-term plans that you would be championing in your new role?

I’ve already started exploring ways in which we can make entry into the industry easier for young people, especially black people, to pursue careers as Financial Advisors.

What advice would you give to a young person aspiring to get into the financial services industry?

One should have the business acumen and patience to build a sustainable business, rather than looking to make a quick buck. Self-development is also key: reading, engaging with like-minded people and building strong personal networks.

What are some of the habits you would say you've developed over the years because of the field you are in?

From a young age, I was taught to wake up early, work hard, never give up and never doubt myself.

Many people will be going off for their end of the year holidays, and as a result, they're likely going to be spending more than they should be due to the pressures of the season, so can you please give us 5 money lessons you'd like to share with our readers?

Ask yourself these questions before you spend:

1. Is it a need or a want? 2. Is it money you will have to pay back? 3. Have you paid all your current debts? 4. Have you got a kitty for emergencies? 5. How different is this year to last year?

What do you do when you get home after a hectic day at work?

Most, if not all, days are hectic! On those days, TV helps me to unwind, and I enjoy watching The Learning Channel (TLC).

What are you currently reading?

I’m in between two books: ‘The things you can see, only when you slow down’ by Haemin Sunim; and ‘Grown Ups’ by Marian Keyes.

Name two of your favourite musicians, both locally (Africa) and internationally?

I don’t really have favourite musicians, because I have a diverse taste in music.

Currently, Zakes Bantwini is doing it for me on the local scene, and I’m back to Luther Vandross these holidays.

Mention three things that most people may not know about you?

I was a radio DJ in my early 20s; I have my own gin brand, Ginlou, in Botswana and I’m a great cook – I love cooking simple, but hearty meals!

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