Persevere in what makes you happy
Making your mark as a woman in a male-dominated industry is not for the faint-hearted, but Anel Wasserfall has proven that the tide is turning and more women are rising to higher positions.
“What is pleasing to note is the number of women starting their own brokerages or managing a branch or office for a brokerage. Insurance is a field built on knowledge and relationships. Knowledge knows no gender. Any woman, who has sufficient knowledge, the right personality traits and upholds high customer service standards, has a competitive advantage,” she says.
Wasserfall has succeeded in a male-dominated industry by executing her tasks flawlessly, thus proving herself capable and earning the respect of her customers and colleagues alike.
She was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but moved to a small town called Tulbagh in the Boland growing up.
“Even after all these years, I still believe Tulbagh is the prettiest place on earth with its snow-capped mountains in winter and green vineyards and orchards in summer.”
She moved to Cape Town to study and work in information technology. It was in Cape Town where she met her husband, a Namibian, and they decided to make their home in Namibia.
“My professional development was strongly cultivated in the insurance industry. During my employment at Hollard the past 12 years, I held various positions from an assistant to a portfolio manager, administration manager, operations manager and general manager.”
Wasserfall considers herself fortunate to be able to take the next step on her career path with Old Mutual, which is one of the largest and oldest financial services companies in Namibia.
“I am excited about the vibrant culture in our daily business interactions and look forward to applying my knowledge, skills and expertise to growing the brand further.”
As the broker distribution manager, Wasserfall has to formulate the broker distribution strategy, manage the profitability and delivery of new business in Namibia and manage all stakeholders, including the brokers and the retail affluent market segment.
This is done through in-depth understanding of the market, economic and political opportunities and environmental threats.
“By building strong relationships, a high-performance culture combined with the set values that guide our business dealings with each other, our customers, communities and other stakeholders in line with our own purpose and strategy, any broker distribution manager will be successful,” Wasserfall says.
She has received a lot of support from all stakeholders, including men, since her appointment, which she sees as a sure sign of the world changing for the better.
“My biggest accomplishments have been to grow within the financial service industry. Starting at the very bottom, hardly knowing what insurance is but then working my way up. Showing that it can be done and that hard work does get rewarded.”
Balancing work and family life has been one of Wasserfall’s challenges.
“Fortunately my husband is very supportive. We have come to jokily accept that my work is like team sport.
“Having to travel and sometimes working long hours that take you away from your family can be difficult, but it helps when you have a good support structure and, most importantly, to manage the balance. To not allow the one to totally consume the other,” she believes.
The joy and happiness of others makes Wasserfall very happy.
“That applies in both my professional and private lives. When my employer truly makes a difference in the lives of others, and when I can contribute to making a difference, it boosts my own spirit with a sense of contentment.”
Five facts about Anel Wasserfall that not everyone might know:
1. Cooking is a passion of mine – I might have missed my true calling there.
2. I have terrible handwriting.
3. I am organised even though my desk looks like an explosion just happened there.
4. My knowledge of plants is shocking. “There are only three types of flowers: roses, lilies and other flowers…. right?”