Evolve Team Series: George Campus Finance

03/11/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it, including the way we work. The Evolve Team Series seeks to capture these changes and salute staff in navigating and adapting to remain productive in very trying circumstances. Tell us how your team as evolved (see details at end).

George Campus Finance team finding a new balance

George Finance Team working remotely (left to right) Willize Venter (Front Desk), Zandile Mpange (Senior Administrative Officer/Student Accounts), Bongisa Maqutyana (Cashier) and Stacey Swigelaar (Campus Accountant). Missing for the photo: Victor Meyer (Logistics & Reprographics)

It wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning, but the six-member George Campus Finance team have developed and evolved while working remotely to ensure that RQs are still correctly captured, monies are paid, and all related financial checks and balances are ongoing to their own high standards. We caught up with manager Stacey Swigelaar.

What is the role and responsibility of your team?
We are the finance leg of the George Campus and represent different divisions of the PE campus: student accounts, financial aid, operational finance, procurement, accounts receivable and management accounting for the George Campus and thus work closely with the Main campus and leadership of the George Campus.

What were the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome during lockdown?
When the pandemic hit and we were placed under lockdown, our biggest challenge was feeling separated from the work we do. We felt hopeless at times and could not provide the service we normally do.

For some time during lockdown, the feeling of being stuck in one place was overwhelming. We were down a staff member, and only one person in the team had a laptop. We had discussions to come up with a plan to ensure that the work could continue. After all, students needed assistance, service providers needed to be paid…

Working from home was initially very challenging, balancing work-life, especially for those with kids or connectivity issues. However, with the easing of lockdown rules, it got better. Taking a break and walking around the block helps.

ICT also came to our rescue and assisted with laptops for the rest of the team who were then able to work remotely. It was also difficult being unable to communicate urgent matters with colleagues telephonically.  But we have learnt patience through this new work arrangement.

What new skills has your team learnt – as individuals and as a whole?
The use of virtual communication channels has been very useful and as individuals, we have learnt a lot. With the help of ICT, we are now able to work completely remotely. We have mastered the use of MS Teams, Zoom and Whatsapp and alternate between these, depending on the circumstances.

As a team we have learnt to accommodate everyone’s schedules as they work from home and have found a good balance. We have regular online meetings and have also started meeting in person since level 3.

As manager of this team I could not be prouder. Each member has stepped up to ensure that the service we render has not suffered as a result of the pandemic. We have found that because of our close working relationship and teamwork, we have been able to rise to this challenge without too many stumbling blocks.

With the move to digital operations, how best can you describe your new way of working? 

Our new way of working is more efficient. It is easier to follow up on requests because everything is digital. We will definitely have to adapt and include some of the new ways of doing things in the future. We have found that there are quite a few processes that can be streamlined without more risk or cost for the University and for this we are thankful.

It gives us peace of mind, knowing that chances of being infected with COVID-19 are minimal, while we’re still being able to provide a service to students, suppliers and staff.

Share your Team’s Evolve story with us by responding to the above questions and capture shots of your team wherever they are working.