Zurich primes pipeline for people-focused business

Where do you go when you want to grow? For people aiming to hone their leadership skills, think Zurich.

Clearly we aspire to be an employer of choice, and to do that, we need world-class talent. And we need to grow and develop that talent. A new, unique program at Zurich introduced in September 2019 is doing just that. It gives our leaders the right training to adapt and excel in a rapidly-changing market, while giving them skills to manage Zurich as a truly customer-led insurer.

“This innovative and far-reaching development program for senior executives goes beyond anything we’ve done so far. It will train – reskill and upskill – our executives, providing them with crucial capabilities to shape Zurich’s future as they gain insights from research and company visits, and work with their peers in countries around the world,” according to Arnold Dhanesar, Chief Talent Officer at Zurich.

Catalyzing change

The program, appropriately named ‘Catalyst,’ runs for 12 months across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, and is designed to help Zurich’s leaders gain the skills and understanding needed to keep Zurich on its customer-centric journey. It accelerates the development of our internal talent and takes skills and capabilities to the next level.

“We’re a people business. As an employer of choice, it’s really important that we invest in our people. And Catalyst is one such example of that investment in action,” according to David Henderson, Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Zurich. The program encourages leaders to think beyond their region, their function and focus on the total Group. “They are the leaders who will then share what they have learned throughout our business organization, demonstrating clear enterprise leadership,” says Katarina Huber, Global Head of Executive Development.

The program focuses on five main areas Zurich considers most relevant for the evolving insurance market: customer centricity, innovation, ‘ecosystems,’ leading in a digital age, and sustainability. Zurich considers all of these essential, especially when it comes to protecting and supporting millions of customers worldwide, while developing its business in an industry that is seeing far-reaching changes.

A diverse group

The leaders participating in the program come from 12 countries, and diversity is key. “We are exceptionally proud that we have a 50-50 balance of male-female participants, to fuel the succession pipeline for a balanced representation at the highest levels of the organization” says Mr. Dhanesar.

While on the program, 26 leaders will work with IMD, ranked among the world’s top three business schools, to become better equipped to actively promote Zurich’s strategic objectives. Sessions will include visits to companies considered leaders in their respective industry and in the program’s focus capabilities.

The executives will augment their daily job experience by working on global projects with members of Zurich’s Executive Committee. “If you look at what’s happening in the insurance industry, it’s going through a profound transformation, like we’ve never seen before,” says Goutam Challagalla, professor of strategy and marketing at IMD, where he is Faculty Director of the school’s digital marketing strategy program. On completion, those participating as part of Zurich’s executive leadership will be ready for future challenges, prepared to lead in the changing insurance industry.


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