There’s no "business as usual" for this reinsurance leader

Reinsurer's Asia-Pacific boss thrives in diverse situations, both inside and outside the office

There’s no "business as usual" for this reinsurance leader

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Being the chief executive of an insurance company is no easy task. In fact, one leader has described his role as having no “business as usual” with each day presenting different challenges.

Craig Ford (pictured), CEO for Asia-Pacific at SCOR Global Life Reinsurance, spoke with Insurance Business regarding his insurance career that spans almost three decades and multiple global markets.

Ford entered the insurance industry in 1992 with Zurich Insurance in the UK, where he spent 14 years in various roles such as finance, strategy and marketing, distribution, project management, risk and governance.

“Like a lot of people in the industry, I was drawn by the combination of the opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives, outlook and well-being, working alongside smart and motivated people with a common purpose,” he said. “It is a cliché but we are there when people most need us - when tragedy and adversity strikes. I really identify with the strong social aspect – partnering with our clients to help their customers live longer and healthier lives.”

He shared one unforgettable moment where he advised his best friend to take out disability and critical illness insurance. At the time it didn’t seem to be particularly important, but it turned out to be life-changing when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at an early age and the claims proceeds helped him adjust to a new life.

“The best moments are those that, with hindsight, proved crucial in making a positive impact to someone’s life, even though it didn’t feel important at the time,” he reflected.

After Zurich, he relocated to Australia in 2006, where he had stints at Suncorp and Reinsurance Group of America’s Australian operations. In 2010, Ford joined SCOR Global Life as CEO for Australia, before becoming deputy CEO for Asia-Pacific in 2013. In December 2016, he was promoted to CEO for Asia-Pacific and is now based in Singapore.

“I have worked both for insurers and reinsurers that shared the objective of increasing consumer engagement with their health; I’ve found that our collective opportunity to improve people’s wellbeing though better use of technology is increasing exponentially at an incredible rate.” he said of his career. “It’s a brilliant time to be in such a dynamic industry.”

As head of SCOR Global Life’s Asia-Pacific operations, Ford has experienced first-hand the region’s cultural diversity, and it has become one of his favourite things about his job, along with its unpredictability.

“One thing I love about the role is that there is no ‘business as usual’. I can genuinely say that every day is different,” he said. “I love the cultural diversity of being in Asia-Pacific – the pace, drive, and constant thirst for innovation – and the different support required which means connecting with the right people and partners, both internally and externally.”

Asia contains some of the fastest-growing insurance markets in the world today, and Ford sees great potential in the region.

“The industry, and our business, in Asia have such huge potential, given the demographics and the search for new propositions and connection points with customers,” he said. “It’s a great problem to have – most other industries can only look on enviously at the speed and scale at which our industry is evolving. There is still so much headroom, particularly for a business like ours.”

Ford’s taste for the diverse extends outside the office, having shared with us his varied leisure pursuits, along with some humorous takes on them.

He has a passion for music, especially jazz piano. Although he himself admits that his talent isn’t enough to make a career out of it and that he is “no loss to the jazz industry.”

Until recently, Ford played football regularly, but he finally had to retire after injury.  “I enjoyed the team dynamic with people from completely different backgrounds,” he said of football.

Nowadays, Ford has turned his attention to activities he termed as “more sedate” – cycling, swimming, and singing in a choir. He also enjoys riding motorbikes although he admits, “I haven’t yet joined the Singapore Chapter of the Hell’s Angels.”

Finally, Ford gave some advice to fellow insurance professionals.

“In whatever you do, be proactive, engaged and open-minded,” he said. “Keep your head up and stay connected externally to help identify the important future opportunities. I have always surrounded myself with good people who are, or will be, better than I am – and really listened to them. Perhaps as I have got older, I care more and worry less. Lastly, of course I am biased, but I think everyone starting out in their career should ensure at some point they are exposed to Asia-Pacific. It is such a dynamic and vibrant region and it increasingly points to our collective future.”



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