Nine leadership questions for Collin Molepe, CEO, Absa Insurance
Mr Collin Molepe has been in the financial services industry for just over a quarter of a century. Over the years he has applied his trade in banking, medical insurance, the life and non-life insurance industries where he spent many years predominantly in operations finding ways to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness to drive excellence for customers. In recent times, he has been focused on large scale transformational programmes, leadership, and culture cultivation to effect competitive advantage.
- For how long have you led Absa Insurance as CEO?
I have been with Absa for just under two years, however this is my second stint with the organisation. I had been with the business previously sometime in 2009.
- How would you frame the transition from Bryte Insurance to being at the helm of Absa Insurance - challenges and triumphs you have had to endure?
The transition has been relatively smooth even though the two businesses are different in terms of operating models. One is a core intermediated business while the other is largely a bancassurance driven business. One thing the two businesses have in common is PEOPLE. I believe we have made great strides in addressing organisational culture and leadership role modelling within Absa. It has been an incredible journey which is humbling yet challenging at times. We have made significant inroads in crafting a successful bancassurance business with great integration into the bank channels. We are slowly addressing the gaps we have in customer proposition to ensure adequate coverage for bank clients.
- What would you say are the top qualities one needs for effective leadership in the insurance industry?
Humility is key, yet not limited to insurance but a trait every leader should have. You need to love people, listen to them and be willing to serve them. You must continuously look for better ways to improve the business to remain relevant. To wrap it up, understanding what customers NEED is essential for success.
- What would you say are your company's top priority areas for the next year?
- Deepen our integration into the bank.
- Improve our digital capability.
- Drive a culture that is inclusive and strives for excellence.
- Simplify our business operations.
- As one of the leading finance houses offering both banking and insurance products in SA, how do you attract and retain talent?
I believe creating an environment where everyone wins is ultimately the goal. We are driven by a need to create value for all our stakeholders which includes employees, community, and the shareholder. When our employees and prospect employees see this, I believe it creates massive synergies. We are also a purpose driven organisation – we seek to empower Africa's tomorrow, together...one story at a time.
- Do you see technology playing a bigger part in how insurance and its products are distributed in the future?
Absolutely! In fact, in the past year or so we have seen incredible success in our digital journey. We can now enable our clients to enjoy our products with ease and speed. With our Activate product, customers can get a quote and buy comprehensive insurance within 5 minutes. This has also enabled our partners to do business with us easily. Investing in technology is no longer an option, but a must do.
- What would you point out as key areas of concern for the non-life insurance industry in the next three to five years?
I believe climate change risk is very real for all of us. Not only will it disrupt our customers lives, in some cases we have seen extreme circumstances where there has been loss of lives and material destruction of property. Businesses have suffered financial loss and we have also seen a sharp increase from our reinsurance programmes. Wide of climate risk, cyber risk is also an area of concern especially for small and medium enterprises. We have observed an increasing trend of cyber-attacks which poses a risk for businesses that don't have adequate layers of protection or cover for this risk. The war for talent is another big concern for us (even though in some cases it brings great opportunity for good employers).
- If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Spend more time understanding people...the art and science of managing human behaviour is an unseen, less understood concept which can give businesses competitive advantage. This is on both customer and employee front.
- What is the one book you would recommend to your audience, and why?
My all-time favourite book is Malcom Gladwell's book, Outlier. I believe Gladwell shares some basic principles of success, which I think all of us can learn from.