Congratulations to Christelle Odendaal on winning the Insurance Apprentice 2022! We thought it was great to see that there was an all-female finale as we are approaching Woman’s Month. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for the Insurance Institute of Western Cape Newsletter.
[IIWC] Why did you want to enter the Insurance Apprentice and what was your reaction
when you heard that you have been selected to be a contestant?
[CO] I have been following the series closely for a long time and I have never been able
to enter as I only made the move to the short-term insurance industry in 2018 and
this year it was finally my turn to be able to enter. After finding out I was chosen I
was extremely excited but at that point the thought of being in the top 12 never
crossed mind much less the thought that I could actually win.
[IIWC] I am always fascinated to hear the career journey of colleagues: Did you choose
Insurance or did Insurance choose you?
[CO] In my case Insurance chose me, just after leaving school I was unable to study and
the first actual job that I had was working as a broker’s assistant. The broker did life
and non-life insurance, but I was helping him on the life insurance side. That is
when the bug bit me and after two years of working for him I applied for a job at
Altrisk - which eventually became part of the Hollard Life offering and I have been
there ever since. In 2014 I made the move to Hollard Insure as a claims handler and
fast forward to today when I work as a Claims Specialist in Hollard Insure in the
I have grown to love the industry and learned that the opportunities are endless.
[IIWC] There was an exciting game show feel to the 2022 Insurance Apprentice. As a
spectator, I was constantly on the edge of my seat. How were the stress levels
behind the scenes?
[CO] The Insurance Apprentice makes use of one of the best production companies in
the industry, Flash Forward and the producer Ryan really made us all look good.
Keeping that in mind the stress levels behind the scenes are much worse than
what can be seen on the show – thank goodness for that. It is very stressful, but so
rewarding when you succeed, and all the contestants became really close and
supported each other more so when the challenges got tougher.
[IIWC] One of my favorite episodes is episode 9 where you chose Bosch Car Services to
discuss their risks. You said this was ‘outside your comfort zone’. As a claims
specialist, Tell us about the value of seeing the risk firsthand.
[CO] The Discovery challenge was so amazing! Their building is very impressive, and I
loved being there. I think me being a claims specialist gave me a slight advantage
in the challenge as I am dealing with basic insurance risks daily. The best part for
me was being able to identify non-traditional insurance risks such as reputation
and financial risks, and it has forever changed my look out in general.
[IIWC] What value did the Insurance Apprentice add to your career?
[OD] In terms of my career The Insurance Apprentice has helped to get my name out
there before the competition, no one would know who Christelle Odendaal from
Hollard in Bloemfontein which I am sure will in the long run open doors for me.
[IIWC] Where to from here? What are your career goals going forward?
[CO] I am a continuous learner and will use all the amazing prizes from The Insurance
Apprentice to help me in my attempts to skill up and exploring leadership as
possible career path. Being this young I still have a lot to learn but I would love to
lead my own team one day.
[IIWC] What advice would you give young individuals that are starting their careers in the
[CO] My advice would be to never limit yourself; the industry is very vast and there are
endless opportunities. Remember nothing amazing ever happens inside your
comfort zone, challenge yourself and never ever stop learning!
[IIWC] Its exciting times as things are getting back to ‘normal’ following the Pandemic
and I believe 2023 Insurance Apprentice is in-person elimination and filming again.
What encouragement would you give to other industry professionals that want to
enter the competition?
[CO] Just do your best, believe in yourself. Make sure you get yourself and your ideas
heard. Also, remember the importance of accepting when a team member might
have strengths that can benefit the team and that teamwork makes the dream