Staying positive in challenging times

Naseema Fakir speaks about staying motivated and grateful amid the Covid-19 lockdown

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“Remain grateful for all that you have and try to frame the current situation in the positive – your family will take their lead from you.”

What’s your role within Sasfin?

I’m head of Human Capital.

Talk us through your career so far?

After completing a BCom Honours in HR and a Master of Business Leadership at UNISA, I worked at ABSA for seven years, first in Debtor Finance Operations and then in Credit. I then moved to Sasfin, starting in Business Banking Operations before moving to HR. This year, I would have been at the bank for 18 years.

What’s your main area of expertise?

Business Banking, as well as HR experience across the full HR value chain.

What is your greatest personal challenge you’re facing during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown?

Ensuring that my 24-year-old daughter, who has William’s Syndrome, is meaningfully occupied while I work remotely.

What’s your greatest career challenge that you’re facing at the same time?

Helping my team remain motivated while working away from the office, and then using this opportunity to demonstrate the caring and wonderful Sasfin culture to all our employees.

What’s one practical thing that’s been helpful for you over this time?

Spring cleaning! Other than cleaning the house, I’m getting the whole family involved in tackling one room a day. This creates a lovely opportunity to sort out and store unwanted items to give to those less fortunate, while also reminiscing on shared memories, being physically active and having some productive quality time as a family.

As a female leader, what three pieces of advice would you give to others as they enter this unprecedented global crisis?

Firstly, realise that this too shall pass – just breathe! Secondly, remain grateful for all that you have and try to frame the current situation in the positive, as your family will take their lead from you. Finally, stop comparing yourself to the perfect images posted on social media. Do the best you can, and have fun doing it!

How do you think the lockdown will negatively impact the South African financial services sector?

I feel that the lockdown is causing psychological stress to many people working in this sector, who are now struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of the uncertainty. Adjusting to remote working is difficult while also juggling childcare, preparing and providing meals and attending to household chores when no support structure is immediately available. In some double-income homes, there is also the added burden of potential retrenchments, lay-offs and short-payments to deal with. On the whole, this could impact employee morale, which ultimately impacts productivity.

What do you hope will change within the financial services industry and the wider world once we come out of it?

I am hopeful that our way of working will change in order to accommodate more remote working. Health and hygiene standards will also hopefully be more stringent going forward, and handshakes will be replaced by a smile. I think another positive change could be increased compassion and kindness across nations, countries and cultures. Finally, I hope it results in a greater consideration for our planet in terms of how we live, work and travel.

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About the Author
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Naseema Fakir

Human Capital, Sasfin

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