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Seibels Employee Spotlight With Catherine Bencheikh



Catherine Bencheikh, Lead Business Analyst of Internal Operations at Seibels, received her MBA from Strayer University this past May. After earning her degree with a 4.0 G.P.A., Catherine received a call from a representative at Strayer with some very exciting news. Catherine was not only named "Outstanding Graduate" for her class, but was also asked to deliver the commencement speech in front of 4,000 people! We recently sat down with Catherine to learn more about her role at Seibels and the accolades she received while continuing her education.


Describe your role at Seibels in the IT department and your experience in the insurance technology industry.
I am a Lead Business Analyst on the Internal Operations team. I have spent 10 years in the health insurance field; however, this is my first time in the P&C field. I am learning a lot and enjoy the journey. 

Have you always wanted to be in IT?
I wanted to be a nurse; however, the wait at Midlands Technical College to get into the program was two years. I was in my early 20's and could not wait that long due to having a child. I worked at a technology company and was very interested in software development. I started going to school for that instead and received a BS in Computer Information Systems. Zoom ahead 20 years and I finally have an MBA.

What was your first job and the biggest lesson you learned from it?
I started work at 15 years of age at a daycare in Chapin, SC. I worked there throughout high school and greatly enjoyed having a class of five year olds. It taught me a lot about human behavior, patience and that if you want to get through to people then you have to come from a place of love, compassion, and understanding. 

You recently received your M.B.A and were awarded “Outstanding Student” at Strayer University. Congratulations! How important do you think education is and how will it impact your career and life?
Acquiring knowledge is a priority in life for me. I never want to stop learning and evolving. As Nelson Mandela stated, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" and I believe that. Education allows the change to start within ourselves so that we can then use that knowledge to help better the world.

What was it like delivering the commencement speech at graduation earlier this month in front of nearly 4,000 people? What public speaking advice would you give to someone based on your experience?

When Strayer first asked me to speak at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC, I was terrified. I have never spoken to over 20 people at a time, much less 4,000. What I discovered is that it is easier to speak to many versus a small group, which seems counter-intuitive. The advice I would give is to request assistance from people who have experience in public speaking. Bobby Cone told me that Niki Medlin was well versed in public speaking and she gave me great pointers (thank you, Niki!). It is also important to have someone that you respect to review your speech, and do what you feel comfortable with in regards to practicing for it. When you're up on that stage, just breathe and let go. You can do it. {You can check out Catherine's graduation video here}. 

What drives your ambition and what does success mean to you?
My need to always do my best along with having a "Type A" personality drives my ambition. Even while in elementary school during charity drives, I always sold the most magazines or chocolate bars. It is programmed in my DNA. To me, success is achieving your goals, whether personal or professional. Success also means that it is necessary at times to get out of your comfort zone. As the saying goes, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

It is inevitable that with technology comes constant change. What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry since you have been in it?
The Internet has had a colossal impact on the world. It has driven change technologically, sociologically, economically, educationally and culturally, to name a few. These are very exciting times to be in and I can't wait to see what the "next big thing" will be.
 
What advice would you give to young people starting off their career?
If at all possible, do what you love because you are going to spend a lifetime doing it. Do what interests and excites you because you will be more motivated during your career. Also, try your best and remember to keep clear goals in mind so that you always have something to reach for.

Communication and how we go about it has changed so much over the past few years. The majority of people are accessible 24/7 now via their mobile device. How important do you think communication is for a team and what methods do you use to ensure communication is achieved the most effectively?
A team cannot work together without communication. Everyone has specific ways that they communicate best such as via email, in person or maybe by text. It is important to know your team's preferred way to communicate with at an individual level. With the proliferation of email, it is very easy to get caught in the rut of responding to emails versus having face-to-face communication. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to "stop the madness" of sending emails and get people in a room to talk about issues. So, various types of communication occur based on the circumstance.

With continuing your education and working full-time, your calendar was obviously very busy! How did you most efficiently manage your time and tasks throughout the day?
If it wasn't for the calendar on my phone, I would have never been able to keep everything straight in an efficient way. Without the calendar, I would have carried around a very big notebook everywhere I went. Thank you, technology!

What is your favorite thing to do in Columbia, SC?
My most favorite thing to do is seeing the SC border sign as I cross into another state. I love to travel.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever been?
That is difficult to answer. I lived in both Scotland and England and absolutely loved it. I’ve been to various countries; however, Morocco and Scotland are my most favorite places to be.

What is your favorite hobby?
Reading and traveling are my favorite pastimes. To me, they are synonymous because it's one and the same...reading allows you to travel in your mind.
 
What is your favorite app?
There are too many to count. I love Nook, TED, Netflix, Etsy, Pinterest, Netflix, and CellTrap along with many others.

Share one thing that people might not know about you.
The only sports I enjoy watching are snooker and sheep herding. I discovered them while living in Scotland. 


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