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Elite Risk appoints new COO

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Elite Risk, a specialist high net worth underwriter and wholly owned subsidiary of Old Mutual Insure, has appointed Tandiwe Cimela as the company’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO), with effect from 01 May 2022.

“I am thrilled to welcome Tandiwe to Elite, who was offered the position based on her diverse skills and remarkable industry experience. I am confident that her contributions as operations officer will help take the business to the next level,” says Tarina Vlok, MD at Elite Risk.

Cimela brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience from the insurance and risk management sector spanning almost a decade, having worked at Standard Bank and Lion of Africa Insurance, amongst others. She joins the business from Sanparks, where she was a senior manager in corporate insurance. Prior to that she was a general manager from 2017 – 2021 at Nacora, which operates as an independent broker within the Kuehne+Nagel Group. She holds a post-graduate degree in business administration from Milpark Business School and is currently studying towards an MBA.

Cimela steps into the new role as the first black female COO at Elite following Vlok’s appointment from general manager to MD of the business in 2021. Vlok also co-founded the business in 2018 and helped build it into the exciting brand it is today. 

Vlok says that the all-female board and executive leadership of Elite Risk serves as a positive example of a corporate company driving transformation and gender parity at C-Suite level.

“The business world suffers from persistent gender gaps in leadership. Tandiwe’s appointment shifts the conversation around female empowerment and is a positive step in closing these gaps in the industry,” says Vlok, adding that, since inception, Elite Risk has always been committed to making advancements in diversity and transformation.

She says that this may also in time open a wider pool and pipeline of female leaders in the insurance industry for the next generation.

Elite’s Board is made up of five highly capable and seasoned businesswomen who represent the varied interests of Elite’s shareholders. These women include Vlok, Elite’s Chairwoman Thabile Nyaba (Old Mutual Insure’s Chief Risk Officer and Institute of Risk Management South Africa [IRMSA] Vice President), Karen Naidoo, MD MF Risk Finance, as well as Jacqué Hurter, Head of Legal at Old Mutual Insure.

“I am proud that there is yet another formidable woman to help to steer the organisation forward, who shares the team’s passion for excellent service,  adding to the varied skills, qualifications and experience of our leadership team,” says Vlok. “Tandiwe has already stepped into the role with ease and I am looking forward to seeing what she brings to the table.”

Within the space of three short years since its launch, Elite has acquired more than 10 000 new policyholders.  This stellar growth continued during 2020 when most businesses experienced the negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions. The company launched into an extremely saturated – and risk averse – South African market in 2018. Today Elite is firmly entrenched as a leading specialist HNWI insurance provider, known for its expertise in this market segment as well as its ability to pay claims – fast.