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Shakeel began his career at Sanlam almost five years ago. Before, he worked as a consultant in the field of employee benefits, and later in asset management. "Actually, when I left university I didn't even know what consulting to clients about employee benefits was," he says. "I found the subject very interesting when I moved to the asset management division and felt that I had discovered my niche."

Although he had felt at home in asset management, Shakeel was really excited when Sanlam offered him a position in employee benefits. "It was different from what I had been doing before," he explains. "The position here at Sanlam is on the business side and on a senior and strategic level." Shakeel saw the move as an opportunity for personal growth and since taking up the position, Sanlam has had him on a steep learning curve.

"I've learnt so much from my senior colleagues and how they engage with the business because it's important to them that staff are excited," Shakeel says. "Additionally, we have access to a whole range of courses that promote personal and professional development."

Since finding his feet in Sanlam, Shakeel has excelled professionally and has been recognised both for his values and leadership attributes. He was nominated for the 2015 Sanlam Investments Living the Values Award and the 2016 Sanlam Employee Benefits Udumo Awards for Leadership, and came second both years. "I am really very honoured that I was nominated for these awards by my colleagues," he says. "Being the runner-up still tells me that I am being noticed and rewarded for my hard work. I would recommend Sanlam to anyone wanting a career in the financial services sector."

Sanlam takes recognition seriously, with a tangible ethos of appreciation for the care, diligence and commitment that employees demonstrate. Shakeel explains. "We have a variety of recognition programmes across the company. The best-known is probably the Chief Executive Awards, which aim to recognise employees for living the company values and for making a contribution to the strategic objectives of the business."

Shakeel has been at Sanlam for almost five years now and is very happy with the choice he made. "It's an incredibly diverse environment, where collaboration, cooperation and teamwork are encouraged," he explains. "We have a strong sales focus and are encouraged to have entrepreneurial mindsets."

Work-life balance is not difficult to achieve within Sanlam. "It is a results-driven organisation and you have goals to achieve. This means that we sometimes have to work on weekends, but that's a given in any company," Shakeel points out. Sanlam is fair and flexible in their expectations and staff well-being is incredibly important. "There are also many opportunities for staff to network and socialise," Shakeel continues.

When asked what he likes to do in his down time away from the office, Shakeel smiles and says, "I'm a bit of a gamer and my wife and I love playing a game of pool on our table at home. However, I am still, somehow, a closet economist. "I love reading about economics and staying in touch with the market," he says. "I recently read a book by Chris Hart and Glenn Silverman called Halfway There, which is incredibly informative. It gave me great insight into investing in the BRICS countries."

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