Know where you want to go

Leader shares how making the leap to Asia led to his growth and empowerment

Know where you want to go

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Stepping out of a comfort zone into a new environment may be hard, but this insurance leader treasures the decision he made years ago.

Emmanuel Nivet (pictured), CEO of AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd (AAGI), spoke with Insurance Business about his 26-year journey with AXA and relocating from the established industry of Europe into the emerging markets of Asia.

“I started off my insurance career in property underwriting and, since then, I have been involved in different areas of operations which are instrumental in my journey,” he said. “I have been with AXA for over 26 years and have held numerous positions in Uni-Europe (part of AXA Group), AXA Global Risk and AXA Corporate Solutions. I was appointed the chief executive officer and board member of AXA Corporate Solutions in the UK, before coming to Asia as the chief executive officer of AAGI in 2012.”

Like many insurance professionals, Nivet said that he joined the industry by chance, and while he didn’t intend to become part of the insurance industry, he never regretted that choice.

“I have no regrets joining the insurance industry and can’t imagine myself being in another industry,” he said.

“At that point, I was looking for an opportunity that could offer not just great future career development, but also visionary roles in a sector with high growth potential. Leadership has significant impact on my decision to stay in this industry and I was fortunate enough to have an inspiring and visionary leader whom I believe in.”

Nivet revealed that he is passionate about building the next generation, similar to the mentorship he received earlier in his career. This extended to AAGI, which was recently named as one of Malaysia’s best employers for its staff training programmes.

“What I would probably want to be more involved in is the areas of coaching and mentoring young leaders,” he said. “Knowledge and experience transfer are what I am personally passionate about.”

With regard to his advice for those just starting in the industry, he said: “Know where you want to go and make it happen. It is the compass and inspiration for yourself. It will guide you to plan how to get there and what you need to do to achieve it.”

Outside of work, Nivet makes sure to spend time with family and friends, which he mentioned as his sources of inspiration. He also enjoys golf during his relaxation time.

Challenges and successes in emerging markets
As chief executive officer of AAGI in Malaysia for almost six years, Nivet has encountered his fair share of challenges and successes. He mentioned the moment when AAGI reached the MYR1 billion (US$239 million) mark in gross written premiums in 2014 as the most unforgettable milestone.

“What makes this milestone so special is not just the achievement but the pride and excitement of bringing everyone at AXA Affin General Insurance together,” he said.  “It is a demonstration of everyone gearing towards the same goal with enthusiasm, commitment and teamwork.”

As an emerging insurance market, Nivet found Malaysia very interesting, and noted some differences between it and Europe, where he began his career.

“Malaysia is an interesting place to be, to start off,” he said. “For me, stepping out of Europe has been a great experience as I get to share something different with people of various backgrounds and experiences. I have the opportunities to go on-ground to meet and network with our agents, partners and customers, to know what they need and what could help them.

“In terms of economic environment, I must say Malaysia is one of the more matured markets in Asia-Pacific with many emerging opportunities and fast-growing segments to explore. It was a change but it’s not that difficult when you’re backed with a strong team that is well focused on developing and delivering results.”

In his current role, Nivet said that keeping up with the fast pace of the industry is one of the biggest challenges, with disruptions changing customer expectations.

“Gone were the days where insurers determine how they want to sell the product,” he said. “Customers now have a final say on how they want to buy their protection.

“These challenges are opening up new opportunities for AXA to innovate, create more value and drive customer centricity, to empower our customers to live better lives. We continuously look to create an ecosystem devoted to identifying, incubating and scaling ideas and services that will change the lives of our customers. By digitalising existing business models and adopting automation technologies, we are able to improve efficiency and focus on delivering value to our customers.”

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