March 2017

86 APAC / March 2017 , • Listening. Many CEO’s think that by being a leader that they have to talk all the time and show leadership. One of the key attributes for a successful CEO is their ability to listen. Listen to staff, core team members, stakeholders and above all your clients. • Good Timing. Knowing when to attack or aggressively hit markets and competitors, when to defend and consolidate or knowing when to become passive and quiet. This is a very difficult skill to teach. Its more intuition and ‘gut’ feelings on how to play the game of business. However, it is essential to know what to do and when to be successful. • Education – always be educating yourself into areas that require it. Consistently strengthen weak skills or knowledge deficiencies. “Strengthen valued, experienced and profitable relationships with selective stakeholders.” Motivation can be a concern to a CEO. Here Stefan tells us just a few of the things which keep him going. “It is difficult to find consistent motivation internally and from team members,” he says. “Remaining positive is necessary to remaining a successful leader, and this must be able to be self-generated and in isolation to your career. In order to achieve this position the following areas need to be addressed; • Treat the work as a game. Learn its rules and how to play, and then simply work hard on improving how you play the game. Snakes and Ladders would be the most similar board game to business (sometimes one step forward and two steps back). • Take time out. Business can be so fast paced and unrelenting that places a CEO in danger of weariness and burnout. Taking time out for exercise, hobbies and any other interests is imperative to be successful. Life balance is not an option but a necessity. Family first – always. • Replace your role every 3 years. Always be working to replace yourself and your role every 3 years with either process automation or another qualified individual(s). Without this discipline it will be difficult to grow yourself and the business. In addition, this strategy brings its own motivation, as you replace the unlikable parts of your job.” And some of the areas he finds challenging within the APAC region. “For my position as CEO of Ensurance, within the insurance industry, I have found the following challenges to be the largest; • Whereas the Asia and Pacific region has the population and numbers, this does not equal the number of people who purchase insurance in other parts of the world. Around the globe insurance is an established mature market in areas of large population centers, example, Europe, US etc. Purchasing insurance outside of Australia is still an industry in its infancy. This is now growing, particularly in China, as the middle class grows. In addition, the number of competitors are the same, competing over the smaller number policy holders. • Trusting in partnerships is difficult. Within Australia you have Crown Law that enforces contracts and agreements. Outside of Australia, within Asia and the Pacific, using domestic law can be problematic, which hugely undermines the ability and motivation of seeking capable and authentic partners. • Outside of Australia, expanding out into the regions immature insurance market is extremely difficult without the need for heavy investment into the associated infrastructure. This includes, systems, quality assurance, skill sets, experience, ongoing compliance, oversight and management.” Stefan has seen a number of distinct changes in the insurance industry over the last 30 years, with the most dynamic changes occurring in the last 3-5 years and continuing to alter the industry going forward in the short to long term. “Navigating and taking advantage of the opportunities presented with fluctuations can be game-changers for a company. It can allow the business to elevate itself in a way that is impossible by not embracing or recognising the transformation. The following have been the most prominent; • Consumer purchasing habits. Consumers now purchase a widget (any widget) considerably different than even say 5 years ago. The use of digital distribution mediums has had a massive impact on consumers purchasing habits. They will now most likely research extensively using digital mediums, and is rapidly moving to a comfort zone of actually purchasing over the internet. As a business, you must embrace digital capabilities to reach your existing or new clients, or in the reduction of internal costs. • Margins are being more and more squeezed. Due to the GFC there has been a massive global shift in capital monies into insurance seeking stable growth and profit. This has resulted in additional competition, lower prices and a reduction of collected premiums. This in turn has placed massive downward pressure on margins and profits on businesses across the board, that still operate on aging and inflexible infrastructures. • It is also important to recognise what has not changed over this period, and that is mainly the reliance on strategic partnerships and stakeholders.” With regards to the future, Stefan has great aspirations for the firm and his role. “As CEO it is easy to live in the ‘now’ as the role fluctuates between dealing with the micro and occasionally in the macro. It is important to look further down the road and see what lies ahead for your industry and company. I would like to see the following; • Success for the company and its shareholders. Effectively executing existing goals and strategies. It will have extended its global reach and sales. • Obtaining more life balance, spending more time with the family. • Continuing to enjoy the role and having fun – which will continue to motivate me. There should be more focus on ‘the road’ instead of the destination. • Continuing to be a global industry leader in driving dynamic change into an old and stale industry.”