Malini Gunawardena started out in insurance in her native Sri Lanka in the early 80s. She found her way to the UK more than 20 years ago, and has worked for various companies in various roles, specialising in commercial insurance. But it’s been at Konsileo that she’s really fallen in love with brokering again, and found the passion she first started out with.
She says: “I have always liked my work, and I have always worked hard, but that has sometimes come at a price. In previous roles I found employers wanted more and more and more from me. My family got only what was left over, and I was in so much stress trying to do everything – like so many women. With Konsileo I am enjoying my life, and I can say 100% that I am enjoying my job more than ever.”
Malini now lives and works from home in Bromley, Kent, where she moved to be near one of her daughters.
“When my three children were young we could not move because I had to be near my office,” she explains. “Back then I was rushing around like a headless chicken in the mornings, and staying beyond 6 at night to finish off urgent cases. It was so bad. I got 45 minutes for lunch, not one minute more. Everything was about the targets – it was a machine. I was a machine.
“It was not even the workload that was the problem, honestly. It was everything around it about the management and the culture. It was not being able to help clients properly because anything slightly unusual would get stuck in the system. I loved my job and I loved my clients but it could be very frustrating.”
A change in lifestyle
The stress of the job and the hours eventually started to take a toll, and Malini’s GP told her she needed to slow down.
“As I get older I am concerned about my health, and when my Doctor said I needed to change my lifestyle I took him seriously, and I found Konsileo. I wish it had been around before! It was too late with my children, who are all grown up now. But inside I am crying, why did I not get this opportunity before? I have it now, though, and I am making the most of it with my grandson. He is 2, and he is very cute!
“Now I can organise my day nicely and plan around him. So if I want to start at 6am and get my jobs for the day finished early I can take him to a farm or a playground. It is a wonderful time. My children complain I was never there for them like this – but the world was different then. Now I can be the kind of grandmother I want to be.
“I also find time to take a walk every day, or go for a swim, and I stop for a family lunch with my husband. So life is very good and I feel very lucky. I have my freedom.”
No corporate hoops
For Malini, it’s not just about finding work life balance for the first time, though, it’s about being able to do the job as she wants to do it, without jumping through corporate hoops.
“Konsileo is an amazing set up,” continues Malini. “Your expertise is respected, and you are trusted to do your job, and do it well. I am more productive now than ever, and I am taking home more of what I earn, too. My income isn’t limited to a fixed salary, anymore.
“I am also able to do more for my clients. The Konsileo team is very friendly and very close, and the beauty is you can find an expert who knows the technicalities or the markets you need and you can work together. It is a very supportive place, and the systems are so good, too. If you have a problem with the IT, it is sorted out and you don’t have to slow down.
“There are no hierarchies here, and everything is black and white, everything is transparent. No one is hiding anything or keeping anything from you, and no one is monitoring you all of the time. We have a system of coaches, but it works two ways. We are all very experienced professional people. As a coach I can help colleagues and discuss issues, but I am also learning from them, too.
“This is the best time of my career, and I think it could suit many other people, too. To work for Konsileo you have to be able to organise your time well. You need to be able to work independently. You need to be truthful to you. If you can do that, you will find your hard work is rewarded and you will get your freedom. And that is a very special thing.”