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How a Passion for Storytelling Broadens the Work Horizons

Seotlelo’s passion for storytelling brought new opportunities and a valuable perspective on the client’s journey. Read more of his personal story in this blog


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I work for SHL as a customer experience specialist, but I have always written short stories and poems in my spare time. The pandemic saw my professional and personal worlds collide when I started to share my stories with my colleagues as a way to stay sane. I wanted us to stay engaged even when we were apart, but I never expected my senior managers to be so moved by my writing. My current manager recommended I go on secondment with the product marketing team to create stories around SHL’s new products. So, through sharing my fiction with my team, I was offered a six-month secondment working from January to June this year in a very different area of the SHL organization.

Steep learning curve

I have worked in many disciplines during my career—I studied corporate communications at university, then worked in journalism, so my passion for storytelling has always been there. After I moved into the financial sector, I had roles in HR, governance, and sales. When I joined SHL six years ago, it was as an associate account manager and I have had four jobs in the company since. But I had never worked in product marketing and before my secondment and I was not entirely sure what it involved.

It was an intriguing—if challenging—experience since SHL has thousands of products. But the six-month project combined everything I have learned in my entire career. It has changed how I do my regular job now that I am back in the customer experience team and altered how I see myself progressing. I think it has increased my chances of moving onto more senior responsibilities. A key question I asked myself now is: ‘How would Seotlelo be in a senior role?’. It has given me the confidence to think that way.

Understanding the client experience

My secondment was an incredible learning experience and proved to be a very quick way to understand the client’s journey. You understand their life cycle when you understand what a client goes through to buy a product and why they come back. It has completely changed my perspective now I am back with the customer experience team.

Some of my friends ask me what a customer experience specialist does. We support the commercial team to achieve its goals. It was a function created to address the fact that a small account manager managed such a large portfolio of clients. Inevitably, some opportunities were missed when dealing with those businesses. Some clients are highly engaged, but others tend to sit in the background. We know we can do more with them. Our team focuses on showing those less engaged clients what else we can do. It nurtures a relationship that is proactive rather than reactive.

You understand their life cycle when you understand what a client goes through to buy a product and why they come back. It has completely changed my perspective now that I am back with the customer experience team.

What makes SHL different

SHL is a very different kind of company. I think of it as a strategic talent advisor. We are not a recruitment company, as many people mistakenly think. Nor are we limited to the HR space, as we also talk to sales and IT organizations. Every day, we have conversations about people and what drives the success of companies. We help organizations realize their potential. How you talk to the client is what matters the most in achieving that. The science and the products are good, but the relationships matter.

Outside of work, my family keeps me busy, as well as my writing. I have a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. But, again, the two are linked. Family means a lot to me both in the present and in the past. My family’s history has been the subject of my writing for the last three years. But I never imagined they—and the stories about them—would ever have an impact on my work and in such a profound way.

I always believe that true success comes from following your passion, and my passion for storytelling led me to where I am today. So, find the fire in you, dedicate yourself to it, and live your life to the fullest—you will be surprised at where your passion will take you.

Check out SHL’s Career Page to find a role that suits your passion!

headshot Seotlelo rapolai


Seotlelo Rapolai

Seotlelo Rapolai is a Customer Experience Specialist at SHL in South Africa and is dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive positive experiences across all our services and products. Having spent almost a decade of his professional experiences in various roles HR, Project Management, and Sales, he has experienced most aspects of what makes an organization successful and some of the behaviors associated with the successes.

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