IT Executive in the office of the Chief Information Officer
Alutha was initially drawn to a career at Sanlam because the opportunity included a move to Cape Town. Once she joined the organisation, however, she was so impressed by the stability of the establishment that she knew it was the perfect fit. The holistic approach to work, with a focus on growth and leadership, is what keeps her inspired.
Alutha understands that finding the elusive work/life balance can be a tough task. “A big challenge for me in corporate life is that the more senior you become, the more difficult it gets to leave work at five o'clock. Finding that balance between work and family is tricky, and even more so for me because I have a toddler”, she says. Despite the challenges, it is her home life that motivates her, “I live for my child”, she explains. “I wake up in the morning and come to Sanlam for her, so that she can have a brighter future and have some of the comforts I didn’t have growing up.”
Being given flexibility also goes a long way to helping Alutha achieve balance and is what makes her most excited about what she does. “I love being given the space to add my own flavour to my work, and not being told how to do it. Not everyone has the situation where your manager tells you what he’d like you to achieve and then leaves you to get it done.”
Alutha acknowledges that good leadership is essential to achieving professional success. She is part of a mentoring programme where she gets to choose a member of senior management to guide her and invest in her career. This has brought added focus and clarity to her work. The times when she has been given the opportunity to lead have also formed the highlights of her career, “When I was a senior business analyst I was given a piece of work to take the lead on - that was a big achievement for me. I also have worked with two other people to launch the first women’s event within Sanlam and it was a huge success.”
The role of women within the organization, and how their careers progress in comparison to male colleagues, is of critical importance to Alutha. “I don’t think we’re necessarily doing the wrong things, I just think that we’re not moving fast enough. We also need to realise that we can’t just remove men from all senior roles because then we’ll lose knowledge.” Alutha recognizes that this is a wider social issue and it’s an area that she’s committed to seeing change in, both within Sanlam and within the Financial Services Industry.
Women like Alutha are at the forefront of shifting perspectives about the role of females in the sector and challenging the status quo at senior levels. Some of her significant promotion and achievement can be attributed to the growth opportunities at Sanlam, where she was provided with the chance to complete a senior management programme at Stellenbosh University. Equipped with all the skills she needs for her senior position as Chief Information Officer, she is responsible for bringing change in the IT space. “My biggest focus at the moment is innovation. Innovation in our eyes is introducing something new, not necessarily something that has never been done outside of Sanlam, but rather bringing about change within Sanlam speedily and with minimum resources”. Alutha is also a firm believer in the power of a truly diverse work force to drive diversity of thinking and therefore, the innovation that her department requires.
Alutha’s journey at Sanlam was started on a solid foundation of education and experience, “I studied a BCom in Information Systems and worked at a consulting company in Johannesburg before I moved to Sanlam. My first role was as a Business Analyst and in 2011 I was promoted to Business Case Services Manager. I then left Sanlam for about 20 months in 2015 and returned to the company as an IT Executive.”