BA Industrial Psychology, B.Proc, LLB, LLM, MBA
SEESA Marketing Director
SEESA Marketing Director Ursula Botha on women in the workplace, education, leadership, careers, and inspiration.
Changing corporate culture by example
SEESA Marketing Director Ursula Botha is not only a stellar leader, academic and top business leader – she’s also a driver of change for the better.
In Ursula’s career at SEESA, her impact has reached far beyond business decisions and boardrooms. Ursula has shaped the company’s corporate culture in a way few others have – and undoubtedly for the best.
Corporate culture affects all operations, the employee value proposition, and the inclination of a business. In a few years, Ursula among other leaders in SEESA showed that they could change corporate culture, leading by example.
Ursula believes that a business eventually adopts the personality of the person in charge of the company. This means, she adds, that things are often always done in a certain way and people become comfortable because they can predict what will happen under specific circumstances. Unfortunately, this can cause a business to stagnate.
Her main focus is to not let the corporate culture hamper growth and she works hard to instil a “change mindset” in her people, believing that change is a good thing.
Ursula is an avid athlete – in 2017 she competed in the Ironman World Championships Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. She completed the World Marathon Majors – six marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York – in 2016, making her one of only 10 people in South Africa and fewer than 4000 people in the world to be awarded this medal. She values physical fitness as a complement to mental agility and strength and during her time of leadership as a SEESA Director, she has brought significant change among employees.
From socializing to triathlons
SEESA’s corporate culture has always been one of recognition, inclusion and growth. At strategic level, this culture is reflected in SEESA Launchpad, an internal bursary scheme open to all SEESA employees, monthly awards and recognition events across all offices where top performers are recognized and rewarded and new employees are introduced to the entire office, and an open-door policy that any employee may walk into a director’s office without fear or hesitation.
However, Ursula took change in the corporate culture to a new level –the corporate culture was centred around social gatherings and “work hard, play hard”. Ursula managed to turn this around in a real sense by inspiring and challenging employees with her personal achievements. In addition to living the lifestyle of a well-rounded, active achiever she advocates for physical fitness and teamwork, encouraging employees to become their best selves.
One practical way this change can be seen, was the start of the #TeamSEESA Challenge. In 2015, SEESA management challenged employees across the country to participate in the Ironman 5150 Triathlon in Bela Bela, South Africa. Management offered to pay for all athletes’ accommodation and travel fees as long as they commit to entering the race by paying their own entrance fees. That year, just under 20 employees from across the country participated in the challenge. In 2018, #TeamSEESA entered almost 30 teams (almost 90 athletes) and 10 individual athletes into the same triathlon event. The corporate culture has shifted to encourage excellence among employees that extends beyond their office hours, bringing positive change to their lives. The principle of “work hard, play hard” is still applicable – the definition of play has changed thanks to one woman at the top and a team of people following her example.
ABOUT URSULA BOTHA
Ursula Botha currently holds the position of SEESA Marketing Director. In her company she is known for her keen mind, her fierce leadership, and her ability to embrace change. She holds a BA degree in Industrial Psychology, B.Proc, LLB and LLM degrees and an MBA. She is a world-class triathlete in her free time and has achieved remarkable accomplishments over the course of her career and in her personal life. She obtained four of her degrees while working full time and studying part-time and raising two children and completed the World Marathon Majors, making her one of fewer than 1000 people in the world to obtain this medal.