In May 2021, ICMIF hosted a series of virtual roundtables for Young Leaders, providing the opportunity for the attendees to speak and network with a number of invited CEOs from ICMIF member organisations in a small group setting. The event attracted over 150 young professionals and emerging leaders from 50+ ICMIF member organisations around the world who were joined by 16 CEOs of mutual and cooperative insurers for the roundtables.
These ICMIF Young Leaders – Roundtables with CEOs sessions aimed to replicate the breakfast sessions that were voted the most valuable session of the two previous ICMIF Young Leaders Programmes held during the ICMIF Biennial Conferences of London 2017 and Auckland 2019. The roundtables provided a unique opportunity to spend an hour with a leading CEO of a fellow mutual/cooperative insurance company: offering the chance to ask these respected leaders anything about their organisation, current issues or challenges they face, their approach to leadership or even to ask for advice for career development.
Following the event, Shinya Kuga from the Research Department at ICMIF member JCIA (Japan) shared his experience of the virtual event, that was attended by 14 Young Leaders from five Japanese organisations: Zenkyoren, Kokumin Kyosai co-op, Kyosuiren, COOP Kyosai (formerly JCIF) and JCIA. Shinya participated in a roundtable with 11 other Young Leaders from the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. These participants spoke with Chris Black, CEO of FMG in New Zealand (see photo).
During the roundtable, the Young Leaders asked Mr Black various questions, such as his company’s efforts towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); differentiation from other companies; response to COVID-19; and how to become a good leader.
Commenting on the session he participated in, Shinya Kuga said: “One comment from Mr Black really resonated with me, he said: In the end, the good person will win. That is, the person who has a good personality and good values will be the winner. It’s also important to keep things simple and not make things complicated”.
Shinya Kuga says the words of Mr Black “Keep it simple with good values” are words that echo exactly the same as the spirit of mutual aid of cooperatives and the Kyosai (cooperative insurance in Japanese) business itself.
Shinya Kuga also noted the comments from Mr Black on the following key topics:
- Efforts on the SDGs: It is important for the SDGs to start by selecting the areas (closest to the 17 SDGs) in which they can be found within the business, rather than by focusing on many areas of performance.
- Leadership: There are many types of leaders, so anyone can become a leader. It is important to be a better listener. My leadership style is positive, active, and hard work.
- Differentiation from other companies and FMG winning the highest customer satisfaction award: We value direct relationships with our customers. We strive to respond quickly to customer calls within 10 seconds and to form a team that can reach the customer immediately by car. In addition to the free advice, we also actively held events to provide opportunities for young farmers to gather.
“The virtual meeting was equipped with simultaneous interpretation, so I was able to participate without feeling too much of a language barrier. However, if I could convey my thoughts well in English, I think I could have made the content more fulfilling by not only receiving explanations from the CEO but also deepening discussions on them,” said Shinya Kuga.
“I had never before had the opportunity to discuss directly with the top management, and other staff members from ICMIF members outside Japan, so it was a very valuable experience”
Kuga continued: “There are differences in environment and culture between countries, but I was able to understand through the various questions that the spirit of mutual aid in cooperatives and mutual organisations is important to other members in the same way as for myself and my colleagues. And they are also working on the business while having challenges such as how to differentiate insurance as a cooperative”
“The Young Leader Programme is a valuable opportunity for direct discussions with CEOs around the world, and I hope many young leaders will take an active part in the programme,” Kuga concluded.