7 days / 7 volunteer stories: Kudzai Chigiji

7 days / 7 volunteer stories: Kudzai Chigiji We’re celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2024 with a new story to mark each day. Kudzai Chigiji speaks about the impact you can have as a volunteer in the fourth interview in the series.

Tell me about your volunteer roles at the IFoA.

I started off with the 400 Club soon after I started working, and I’m currently a Council member and sit on the Finance and Investment Board. I have volunteered in other member associations and the IAA over the years as well, which has supported a lot of my IFoA volunteer work. If I think of volunteering as a position on my CV, it’s the longest and most dynamic one I have held (14 years).

What surprised you about volunteering?

It helped build my entrepreneurial muscle quite a bit because it forces you to think up value adding projects to embark on and execute, rally people around a common vision, organise yourself and the resources that are available. And those things, one by one, have contributed to making me a more risk-taking and proactive individual, in both my career and in business.   

It’s also the friendships you make - you meet some great people along the way and become genuine friends. I know some people who've even met their life partners through volunteering.

What advice do you have for new volunteers?

Start slow and small. And have a clear time budget so that you have boundaries going in. Find somewhere to volunteer and find the joy in doing it- find projects and tangible exercises you can run with, whether it's organising events, taking minutes, writing thought leadership pieces, sharing what you are learning at work through speaking engagements, managing the online communities. There is a wide range of work for any willing volunteer.

It’s an opportunity to build your career in a very different way. You also get the opportunity to build credibility and to learn skills that might have taken you much longer to build in a large corporate. You might not have participated in a board meeting until you were much older, but if you were volunteering from your 20s, you might be invited to attend in your 20s or 30s.

What is the most important thing you have learned as a volunteer?

A lot of people talk about volunteering like it's just giving back to the profession. That's a big part of it. But for me, it's also been very 50/50. It's a relationship and you need to make sure it is also a valuable experience for you. I have genuinely enjoyed my volunteer journey.

It's given my life a very different dimension, which I think I wouldn't have developed otherwise. I've worked with some very senior individuals across several industries, providing me the opportunity to learn from them.

I think once people are volunteering, they have that sense of shared ownership, but also the shared responsibility on how we get to the desired outcome.

It’s like telling people not to litter - if you get them to participate in just one litter pick, they start to get ‘it’.

I think it's a mindset shift to “Hey, I actually have agency here.” I have agency to be part of the solution. The profession belongs to us, the members. Volunteering gives us the opportunity to take ownership of how the profession develops.

Kudzai Chigiji is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and a Fellow of the Actuarial Society of South Africa; with a Masters in Development Finance from the UCT GSB and holds a MBA from the University of Oxford SBS, Balliol College. She is currently a Council member and a member of the Finance and Investments Board. Her experience spans life insurance, social security, banking (digital product development and loyalty programs), healthcare (funders and big pharma) and early-stage investments.

Read more volunteer stories

From the lesser-known benefits to the impact you can have as a volunteer, delve into more stories in the series. We are publishing each day of Volunteers’ Week 2024.

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