Aon chairwoman calls for bold leadership amid decisive insurance moment

He delivered this message in his keynote address at the Insurtech Insights Europe 2023 summit in London last week.

“Innovation is about addressing unmet needs,” he said, speaking to an audience of insurance and insurtech leaders. “However, what we notice is that in our business, we are asked to do more with less. Infinite growth with a finite limit is simply impossible.”

Soetman-Reijnen will step down as chairman on April 1, 2023 after 33 years at the company, Aon announced on Thursday (March 9).

‘Not enough has changed since yesterday’

In her speech, Soetman-Reijnen reflected on the changes she has seen in the industry over time. But he also lamented that insurance isn’t moving fast enough to deliver what consumers want, the way tech giants like Amazon and Google can.

“Every time I go back to London, it feels like not enough has changed since yesterday,” says Soetman-Reijnen. “There’s more to be done.”

While large incumbents are positioned to remain in the market for decades to come, new companies must fight the ongoing battle for relevance.

Data and technology, already abundant in the market, play an important role in innovation. But the change has to come from the insurance companies themselves, urged the chairman of Aon Holdings.

“How do we stay relevant in the industry and ensure that the products and services we create meet unmet needs? How do we learn and adapt our business models accordingly to our companies?” Soetman-Reijnen asked the leaders. “That’s the big challenge.”

Emotionally intelligent leadership

Organizations are better able to transform emotionally intelligent leaders, says Soetman-Reijnen.

“If you have a product that you think is unique and relevant to the world, you want to make sure it’s followed. Emotional intelligence is important to carry that message and make sure people follow through,” he said.

The importance of emotionally intelligent leadership resonated strongly throughout the global workplace in the wake of the pandemic. But this is not enough at the highest level of leadership, according to Soetman-Reijnen.

“The higher one [leaders] enter the ranks of companies, the less emotional intelligence they have,” he said, citing a study by the World Economic forum.

Besides being able to respond and respond to the needs of their employees, emotionally intelligent leaders are better equipped to handle change and change.

“The most important thing in this moment of the world we live in is how you adapt. Can you demonstrate a situational awareness needed to deliver your product or service to the people who need it most?” Soetman-Reijnen said.

Flexibility is one of the most important elements of leadership because it allows individuals to change and adapt to change as needed. But Soetman-Reijnen also emphasized resilience and “fail early and fail smart” as critical skills insurance leaders need to master.

Stepped down as chairman of Aon Holdings

“True leadership is when people follow you even when you’re not there anymore,” said Soeteman-Reijnen, who is leaving Aon after more than three decades.

He served in several leadership roles during his time at the global financial services firm, including global chief marketing officer for Aon Inpoint.

Outside the firm, he has accepted various non-executive and ambassador roles, such as member of the global alumni board of Harvard Business School and member of the board of directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands.

She also advocated for the empowerment of women as an ambassador for UWC Maastricht, supporting their MENA Women Empowerment initiative.

Eric Andersen, president of Aon, said the company will celebrate Soeteman-Reijnen’s contributions at a farewell symposium next year.

“On behalf of her colleagues at Aon, I want to recognize Marguerite for her 33 years of service to the firm and the many contributions she has made to our business, corporate governance, and inclusion and diversity initiatives. We wish her the very best in this next chapter of her career,” Andersen said in a news release.

Soeteman-Reijnen expressed gratitude for the honor of serving the firm and the ability to pursue her ambitions in risk, leadership, integration, and diversity within and outside of Aon.

“On my journey from trainee to Chairman of Aon Holdings BV, I have been fortunate to work with so many talented people from different backgrounds, all of whom are as passionate as I am about the firm’s goal of partnering with our clients to help shape business decisions for the better,” she said.

“This is the right time to follow my curiosity for new dreams and new challenges.”

How can the insurance industry embrace change amid today’s risks and challenges? Express your ideas in the comments below.

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