By Butsi Tladi, FIA President
On being appointed as the first female and first african President of the FIA, I shared the following thoughts:
We often do not realise that we are making history whilst at it. I am humbled by the overwhelming support of my appointment to the position. In taking on this role, I am thankful to follow in the path that our previous President Peter Olyott and I am blessed to have benefited from his wise leadership, not only on the Board, but also, together with Arnold van der Linde, on the FIA Manco. I am thankful for their generosity and I look forward to their ongoing council.
The journey of how the FIA was built, how it overcame challenges, engaged with the various regulators and legislators, is testimony to the resilience of the organisation. The deep heritage and institutional memory that resides in its people will be our foundation as we move forward. Over and above a visionary strategy, it is the goodwill and camaraderie amongst members that will see us into the future.
Having spent my entire working career in a large corporate, my journey in the FIA was an eye opener. I had been blind to the challenges that so many others, often much smaller, intermediaries encountered in what I had assumed was a fair and competitive industry. At the FIA, I met a team of people who selflessly give of their time, knowledge and passion to advance the collective interests of intermediaries and their clients.
I have been drawn to the passion with which members have written to us, demanding a voice responding to issues in the country. I have felt the fear of our members as they misunderstood what transformation was all about. Interestingly, the FIA also created a safe human space and removed the toxic stench that sometimes develops amongst those of us that compete daily and paved the way forward for healthier competition.
In defining my expectation of the FIA, I found inspiration from a French philosopher Frank Fanon, who writes that “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it.” My emphasis is that each generation of members of the FIA must improve on the progress inherited and move it forward. Our measure of progress has to include sustainable growth for the organisation.
I look forward to continuing on the work to strengthen our value proposition to appeal to all intermediaries. Our growth plan and ambitions include becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation. For many of us in the FIA, South Africa is the only home we have. We therefore have no choice but to make it work. Inequality and diminishing opportunities for many in our country lie at the heart of our problems. The prosperity we desire will continue to be elusive as long as we don’t address the issue of inequality.
The last year of living with Covid-19 has been a time of great reflection and introspection for all of us. It has been a constant reminder about the vulnerability of humans, vulnerability of livelihoods, and how interconnected we all are. It has been a realisation that humanity’s survival requires us to make contributions beyond our narrow self-interests. It has been about the impact we have on our families, in our businesses, in our communities, and society at large. It has been a revival of our spirit to be the force for good in the world. Ladies and gentlemen – let the work begin.