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7 Questions on Leadership with Michelle Ansuya Seeparsad

Name: Michelle Ansuya Seeparsad

Title: Learning and Change Specialist

Organisation: Nedbank

Learning and Change Specialist in Human Resources, joined my company in 1998 (25 years). I am a Certified Life and Mindfulness Coach (not practicing due to my corporate job)I am the President of Our Corporate Toastmasters Club 2023/2024, in my Organisation. I am a member if The Rotary Club of Reservoir Hills have been elected Director of Public Image and have the Youth Portfolio. I am a Rotary Mentor to our Interact Club in our community. They were inducted in 2023 and I guide and support them through our Rotary Club and advocate for Youth Empowerment. I am a motivational speaker and i have had my own motivational page of Facebook and website called Emerald Inspiration for over 5 years

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Michelle's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Change fatigue. Due to the adverse conditions experienced since 2020, people are still finding it hard to adapt to the changes. They struggle to accept the "new normal" and this has led to a lot of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. It takes an in-depth understanding of how to keep people where they are at in their lives, and each person is unique and cannot be helped the same way. As a leader, it is crucial to not rush into solution mode. The whole landscape of being a leader has changed and so should our mindset

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have worked in corporate since 1998 and eventually stepped into my passion for Learning and Development in 2007 and have since progressed in my career of choice as a Leader of Self. In my profession as a Learning and Change Specialist, my role requires that I be skilled at Change Management and I have studied and am an Accredited Change Specialist.

My Stakeholders are my clients and I train and engage in project management with the leaders of the organization to help curate learning and change plans and ensure that the ADKAR methodology is applied to ensure I carry out my function and I am responsible for reporting back to our Divisional Heads, Executive Heads, MANCO and Team Leaders.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I work from home. I wake up between 5/6 a.m. so I have quiet time to myself before I start my workday at 8 a.m. I normally log on before 8 a.m. so I can get all of my apps and working platforms open. While this is all being done, I put on my music and create a mindset for the day. I do not believe in waiting and doing nothing, I sometimes listen to music, or put on my meditation app, depending on my mood.

This is how I start my day. I then check my email to-do list for the day and week ahead and plan how my day will go. I then see to my emails and prioritize the urgent, not-so-urgent, and then lastly the FYI emails. I then go to my TEAMS APP and check to see if I need to pick up a conversation I may have missed the day before or follow through on queries from my clients or my L&D teammates.

I then follow my calendar for the day. No two days are ever the same. After work, I might have a Toastmasters Session to attend on Thursday, so I prep myself online for the session and get ready to join the Online TEAMS session till 18h30. I have a helper who helps me prep my meals so I can come as and when I am done with my day and have dinner ready for my family. I then wind down, sometimes early due to load shedding I get into bed.

I then catch up on my social media pages for Rotary and Toastmasters to see what deliverables I have and then catch up on my personal messages. I also use this time usually late in the evening to do some writing for my Facebook page, or for the Literacy group I belong to for creative outlet.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I need to always be mindful of the audience I am with and learn how to adjust my approach to be more effective. I have learned over the years that in order to be a good leader, you have to know who you are dealing with and how to talk to them on their level of understanding and mirror them so they can also relate to who I am. It is about learning to remain my authentic self always while being effective

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

There are so many but Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" has helped me learn the power of self-reflection and getting to know myself first, then know how to communicate with others. I learned how to handle conflict with people with different personalities. I have learned how to create balance in my life so I can use the wheel of life as a moving working tool because life is never constant. This is the first book where I learned initially about Change Management and has tweaked my interest in becoming a Change Specialist

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Never do things to impress others. Always be purposeful and mindful when making decisions because as a leader you have the power to make an impact, use your power with empathy, and always stay people-centered. You can have the best product, systems, and processes in place but if you are not able to lead your people and empower them you will never be a good leader

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

The very FIRST time I was required to report to our CX STEERCO, I remember how very nervous I was, having never reported directly to that level of Leadership before I needed to learn how to report at a different level where granular detail was not required, but rather a high-level impactful and dynamic reporting was required.

I did a lot of research on my own to get to a level of comfort and to ease my nerves. I then created a TEAMS FOLDER dedicated to the CX STEERCO and uploaded all my presentations ahead of time, sending out an agenda so they were fully prepared before I engaged in the Leadership Follow-Up.

The details from which would be reported on at an Executive Level. I remember how very nervous I was when I began the presentation, but I also remember how I eased into the presentation as I knew my subject matter and this gave me the confidence I needed to not only run the meeting but to also get complimented on my work.

What an awesome feeling of relief and excitement I felt, knowing that I had achieved a milestone in my career as a Manager of Self Learning and Change Specialist. I have since grown in leaps and bounds in my professional skills and am able to work with anyone in my organisation regardless of title or position

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