"My interest in maths began at a young age as I was blessed with having a maths teacher as a mother who made education a primary focus. At the time, though, it felt like a curse every time she ripped out my homework and said: "do it again, but this time properly". Looking back, this contributed to my determination and perseverance, skills which helped me complete the actuarial exams years later.
Stan currently runs the digital client experience function for a major South African insurance group, incorporating digital business models and design, advanced analytics, insights, CX (customer experience), client communication, campaigning, social media and digital marketing. He is a major fan of Instagram (@stanleygabriel), and is launching a podcast titled Sizoba’Right with Sibs and Stan, reflecting his passion for storytelling. This is his story, which concludes with five lessons from his journey so far:
What drives Stan
An extrovert, Stan is incredibly confident and self-aware, in tune with how he feels and what motivates him. He prioritises time to think and reflect, and knows well what he enjoys work-wise: “If I think of all the roles I’ve been in, they’ve always been about something that didn’t exist or existed but wasn’t getting traction.” He also talks about knowing that he wanted to have certain career experiences, rather than a defined career path, and he has taken his personal and professional development seriously.
I love creating new things. I love getting things off the ground. I’m not that amazing at managing things that have already taken off. Somebody else needs to take that role… I’m more of the person that creates the strategy, thinks of the symphony of what we’re doing, really embraces new ideas, and less of the person that is managing the thing that’s already gotten success.”
A consequence of being in tune with his core is that he tries to set aside time to rest and recuperate: “For me what’s really helped is I am unapologetic about the time I need. I take it… finding new inspiration, gathering my thoughts, and reflecting… I’ve taken deliberate breaks when I’ve needed them.” Read more for reflections on Stan’s personality and drivers, to follow his career journey, and see his insights from his experiences so far.
This personal journey is adapted from a LinkedIn article published by Cumesh, and he kindly agreed that we share it with you – we found his experiences inspiring, including how he originally approached his legal articles, and also his professional transition from attorney into the banking industry. Beyond his original university degrees (BA, LLB and LLM(Tax)), he’s also developed his skills further through programmes at WITS, Harvard and Said (Oxford) Business Schools and believes in actively managing our careers. We trust that his experiences will enthuse and motivate you too.
“I’m often asked about my career journey, especially by the young professionals in the accounting and legal fields. From studying a challenging degree, to ‘paying my dues’ during my [legal] articles, to working in a high-pressure career in banking today.
...My sister and uncle both worked in law and that was a contributing factor. I also wanted a career where I could add value and assist other people. It gives you a broader purpose than just earning a living. I wanted to make a difference.
[After my degrees I] wanted to get practical experience in a law firm. With my LLB I had great theory, but no practical insight yet. My two years of articles gave me the best grounding, even for the work that I do today.