I originally started my career in IT, however in 1999 I was approached by European insurance software development house Gratex
International about founding a branch of the company here in Australia. It was a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down and after establishing a team of staff in Sydney we set about creating an insurance software solution exclusively for the Australian and New Zealand markets. Since then I have loved every minute working in insurance. I have learnt so much and met so many great people over the last 15 years. It’s not until you are a part of it that you realise what an interesting and dynamic industry it really is.
How would you sum up insurance brokers in three words?
Knowledgeable, dedicated and essential.
How would you change the industry?
I would like to see the role of insurance agencies profiled more prominently. Agencies are highly innovative in the insurance industry, they are very knowledgeable about the products they sell and have a strong customer focus.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Under-promise and over-deliver”
What’s the most important thing a broker can do to develop their business?
Listen to and always strive to provide the best value for their clients.
If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
Make the day a public holiday. I could use a day off.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry today?
In my view, one of the biggest challenges for the insurance industry right now is the ability to adjust to shifting sentiments in respect to how consumers learn about new products and acquire goods and services. The buying habits of younger generations in particular need to be understood and leveraged to be successful. Also the loyalty of customers is being challenged especially in the segments with commoditised insurance products. We have also seen a consolidation of the insurance industry and I believe that dynamic innovative companies that can recognise social change and adapt their business to changing technologies, both internally and for their consumers, will have the advantage in winning more market share.
What has been the highlight of your career?
It’s difficult to pick one career highlight as there have been so many, but I would have to say that moving to Australia has been the catalyst for so many fantastic moments and opportunities in my career. It was a big challenge to build a new life here and master a new language, but it was a decision that has worked out exceptionally well for my career and for my family.
What’s your favoured style of coffee?
A ristretto, preferably with a bit of chocolate. Bold, aromatic and sharp.
NRL, AFL, soccer or other?
I grew up in Slovakia, a country with no rugby tradition. The first game I ever saw I watched in disbelief as these man-mountains ran at full speed into each other with no protective gear. “Why would anyone want to play this game?” I thought to myself. I can’t say that I follow any of these sports closely. My true passion is scuba diving.
If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Vincent van Gogh – I’d love to talk to him about his time spent in Arles, about the Yellow House and Provence;
Sigmund Freud – I would offer him a job in our HR department and would ask him to have a word with Vincent.
Miles Davis – I never had the opportunity to see him performing live. It would be great if he could play a few tunes from ‘Waltz for Debby’ while Sigmund and Vincent talk.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be...
either still in IT or a farmer. Hopefully with enough time on my hands to be a hobby woodworker on the side and scuba dive as much as possible.