Avi Joseph's background is in physical education. Picture: MOELETSI MABE
Avi Joseph's background is in physical education. Picture: MOELETSI MABE

What you do at work each day?

Most of my day is spent trying to understand how our customers interact with Vitality and how we can make their experiences with us more intuitive, simple and pleasant.

I am also involved in new product development, which involves investigating whether the idea makes business sense, how to implement it (creating a business case and putting product-specification documents together) and then working with the different teams to make sure that the requirements are included.

This typically involves working with the developers if we need it on the website or app, and the call-centre agents as well as the analytics team so that we can track the return on investment once the product has gone live. My second function is trying to support pregnant women and babies and kids in becoming healthier. We provide tools and incentives for moms as well as kids to make healthier eating choices and to become more physically active.

How did you end up doing this work?

My background is in physical education. I completed a four-year degree in physical education at the University of the Witwatersrand. I then did a master's in education with a focus on physical education, so my background is in kids and health.

While completing the master's degree, I taught physical education students (this was during the time that physical education was still an independent subject at schools).

Once physical education was phased out of the curriculum, the degree changed to a human-movement studies/sciences degree.

I also lectured on personal training courses and at conventions.

I am currently registered for a PhD in exercise science through the Sports Science Institute at the University of Cape Town. The focus of my thesis is on teachers' wellness and how we can improve the health of this "at risk" population.

When Vitality started a schools programme, I was approached to run and manage it. Over time my focus has shifted to our customer-experience analysis.

What big work mistake led to an important lesson?

I am, by nature, more of a big-picture person. I have learnt over time that the devil is in the detail and that if I don't focus on all the small details, cracks and gaps develop in projects.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

It was so long ago, I honestly can't remember. I think as a child I wanted to be a teacher. I have always loved learning and teaching.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I enjoy my interaction with colleagues and mentoring others. It also gives me great satisfaction to see a project that took months to plan being implemented and being used well.

What part of your job would you prefer not to do?

Having to follow up and ensure that tasks are done is a real pain for me. I prefer not having to nag people to get work back to me - but that is part of the reality of my job.

What is the best career advice you have had?

People who make no mistakes make nothing at all. This famous quote was given to me by a philanthropist. The message for me was that mistakes are an integral part of learning and growth.

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