Maggie Beukes would have gone to half a dozen FINSIA events if it had not been for COVID-19.
So, she was pleased to be back to face-to-face meetings with the SA YFP, which was the first committee to get a Sundowner organised in 2021.
Like other YFPs, the newly-nominated South Australia chair is looking forward to making up for lost time with one of the key benefits FINSIA has to offer - namely networking.
Talking about the benefits of the Australasia and financial services-wide membership body for this InFinance special edition, the Bendigo and Adelaide Assistant Manager - Portfolio Funding said: “What’s so good about the FINSIA and the FINSIA YFPs, is that it’s aimed at the younger demographic.
“Most people form their baseline network during their 20s and 30s, when we typically have less responsibility, less family obligations, things like that.
“So that's the time when you meet with other people. You go to networking events, you invest in growing your network and expanding the group of people that you know.
“And the second part of why FINSIA is so good is that's it’s committed to organising events.
“You can go to random networking events and mixers if you're really dedicated.
“But being part of a body that has other professionals in your area, which is the most valuable network, I would say is perfect. Meeting with people your age, your life stage, your career path is so important.
“And I think that was sorely lacking during COVID.
“You can't network over Zoom. You can meet new people, but statistics show 70% of our communication style is non-verbal.
“So based on your gestures or your eye contact, how do you form a good link, form a good relationship, if you don't really catch up or don't meet new people?
“One of the most valuable things I've found was the soft skills you learn. Not necessarily only at networking events, but all the other format of events that FINSIA tends to run.
“You learn how to speak well, or maybe be more confident, or to put yourself outside of your comfort zone by going to these sort of events if you're not an outgoing person.
“Those are second-hand skills that we're not picking up as a result of COVID.”
While networking is not the same over Zoom, Maggie says learning to use the platform to keep in touch with her closely-knit team during lockdown for those 5pm Friday calls was a huge benefit.
“I personally appreciated them because our team said, ‘Get a drink, knock off, talk and relax.”
Talking post COVID, working from home and what the future holds, Maggie says: “I appreciate a balance. I can work alone, but then at some point I would very much like to just talk to someone in the kitchen - or with somebody that's not in my team.
“I think businesses don't have a choice but to adapt because of COVID.
“I highly doubt we'll ever go back to the same nine-to-five in the office, five days a week.
“I think businesses will either adopt more flexible working practices out of sheer peer pressure, or just by seeing the opportunity in investing in flexible working.
“So, I don't think we'll ever go back to what was considered ‘normal’ before, which I don't find unusual because if you look at working practices or office layouts, every 20 years or so, there's a complete shift.
“Just look at when we went from enclosed offices to open space layouts, then when we went from nine-to-five to flexible working.
“I think, like most things, there's a bell curve, so we all need a balance in which things or how often we get social interaction or are in the office.
“It's very rare that you'd find someone who is 100% happy to be either in the office full-time or at home full-time.”