New QBE group CEO on his plans and focus
Horton came on board in September and started in London, where he was based before spending a few weeks in the US offices and finally heading Down Under earlier this month. The new CEO, who is obviously no stranger to running an international company, sees his greatest challenge in bringing the global organization together.
He said, “I think this is going to be the biggest challenge because it sounds really easy, but getting 11,500 people to think about the company and think about what the organization as a whole can do and how they can support everyone else and how. ”They can be supported [is tough].
“It sounds very simple, but if everyone doesn’t take it for granted, it becomes quite difficult. For this reason, I have to start with the leadership group, support each other and think about the company, and then transfer that to the organization. I think that will be the challenge. “
For Horton, human focus is one of the lessons he brings to QBE from Beazley.
“I joined Beazley in 2003,” recalls the former banker, “and at that point I had been in the business for 17 years. I’ve been to big banks and joined this company with 120 employees and I realized the importance of the HR agenda and the importance of relationships and that insurance is a long-term game. Hence, it is important to have these relationships.
“You collect the premium now and often pay out the damage five or ten years later. So this is a long term game and you will have to try to keep that relationship going over this period of time. It opened my eyes for that. Some insurance companies pretend it’s not a long term game and they hack and change and do things in the short term and that generally doesn’t work well in the medium to long term. I learned all of that in my 18 years at Beazley. “
Continue reading: CEO moves from Beazley to head QBE
“I really focus on bringing people together,” added the new CEO, who succeeded interim boss Richard Pryce. “We had a change in the management and I would like to try to stabilize myself [the company]. “
Pryce previously served as QBE’s international CEO before having to postpone his retirement to rise to the group’s interim position last year. He held the position while the insurance group sought out Pat Regan’s replacement at the top after he was shocked by an internal complaint about workplace communications.
QBE has made further leadership changes since then, with Sue Houghton’s most recent addition. The insurer’s new Australia Pacific CEO joined the company in August.
Horton, who is looking forward to a “nice and warm” New Year’s Day as opposed to the wintry one he’s used to, told Insurance Business: “If we can fix the people and the culture a little, everything else is relatively easy . If you get that right, the brokers and clients will be happy to work with you. If you do that right, your business will grow and shareholders will generally be happy. I think doing this is going to be possibly the biggest challenge and getting things done consistently.
“We are an unusual company because we have a large presence in different time zones around the world, and that is a challenge in itself. We have our strength in Australia and New Zealand, our strength in the UK, our strength in North America, but we are not as strong in the other countries we are in. So how can we build on that? From my point of view it is important to recruit good people, to concentrate very much on the product, to offer a good service and to build. “
In addition, the QBE boss said, it is crucial to be consistent in all aspects of the business.
“I want to bring consistency into the organization so that we are consistent in the business areas in which we are active and do them very well,” emphasized the new boss. “And I want people to make sure that we look at the organization as a whole, not as individual parts of it.
“Consistency is very important to me – and that is consistency in dealing with our employees, consistency in service, consistency in the product range, consistency in claims payments, consistency in dealing with supervisory authorities, consistency in capital management. This applies across the board and throughout the company. “
Horton added, “This is really important because insurance, in general, is not a single industry. Companies go into one line of business, then they back out; they treat people well and then fire half of them. We’re very inconsistent as an industry, so I like consistency [at QBE]. “