A Capetonian business woman is combining her expertise in finance and technology to save South Africans money, in a time when money is tight for many households.
As founder and CEO of Switch2, a platform aimed at educating consumers about their right to choose affordable credit life cover, Sasha Knott has set a career goal of educating consumers on insurance industry jargon. She believes many South Africans don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign complex contracts, which often ends up costing them a lot more money than it should.
Switch2, a division of Clientèle Life, offers to empower people to save money by switching, as the name suggests, to a credit life insurance that is more cost effective and better suited to their needs.
Knott is also a Director at JobCrystal, a tech start-up company which provides a unique recruitment tool that automatically matches a job specification to a candidate’s CV. With diverse experience in various key specialisations, she is perfectly suited to tech-based entrepreneurial leadership roles with her core competencies including tech start-ups, entrepreneurship, insurance and human resources.
Unsure of what to do after leaving high school, Knott decided to study computer programming – a subject she enjoyed and found she “had a logical brain for”.
“After studying, I got a few jobs in IT and eventually made my way to management level. Having an edge on many by understanding IT jargon helped leaps and bounds along the way. I then got into start-ups and found my new enjoyment. I loved starting something new, growing it and helping staff grow along the way,” she explains.
Now, in her current role, Knott says she’s particularly proud of being able to work with a staff complement made up of 97% women. It took a lot of hard work and a whole lot of determination to get to where she is now, in a senior position where she can champion the rights of all women.
“The insurance sector needs much more focus on insurance that is unique for women in considering maternity, for example. It should also be clear what is covered and what insurance options are available in terms of including children or singular families,” she explains.
“Switch2 is set on a path of becoming a real consumer champion educating all South Africans about their rights when signing financial or insurance-related contracts. With more education, more consumers will be able to make better decisions for their families, without leaving them in debt.”
Knott also aims to empower other women in business. As she says, 2018 is a “women’s year” where more and more women are being empowered and are increasing in numbers around boardroom tables.
“I heard a lovely saying recently which said that ‘behind every successful woman is a bunch of great women’. I hope that all women assist other women in finding their success. We need more women in senior positions, in insurance and in all industries,” she says.
The insurance industry has also come a long way in terms of embracing technological advances, according to Knott.
“Many industries are struggling in the current climate, but insurance seems to be innovative enough in coming up with great new products that consumers can easily sign up for,” she says.
“Things have definitely changed. One significant game changer is that people simply don’t have the time for lengthy phone calls with insurance providers anymore. This has led to many companies moving to online-based services. There are some phenomenal companies bringing out fascinating, innovative products. It is a tough industry with lots of competition so success is really more about who can innovate and implement their ideas fast enough.”
To help others get ahead in the industry, Knott mentors underprivileged teenagers through the Kay Mason Foundation, which provides holistic development scholarships to disadvantaged children from Grade 7 to 12. And in what little free time she still has, she is working at completing an Honours degree in Business Management.
“My career goal is to get my doctorate. I’m still studying while I work. My first corporate mentor told me to continue studying after I registered for my degree, but then decided to back out. I had been worried that I would be too old if I finished my degree at 30. Continuing my studies was the best advice I could have taken as I am now on my way to becoming Dr Knott,” she says.
Her advice to others looking to get ahead in any corporate industry is to establish balance and to keep learning – “or you will be left behind”.