Issue 09

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Rajesh Sud

CEO & Managing Director, Max Life Insurance

Rajesh Sud is the CEO and Managing Director of Max Life Insurance, one of the first three private life insurers to start operations in 2001, when the insurance sector was opened to private participation. A founder member at the company, he is committed to achieving the Vision of making Max Life Insurance the Most Admired Life Insurance Company in India. Rajesh is also the Chairman of Max Bupa, the health insurance joint venture of Max group. Over the last five years, Rajesh has led the company through one of the most dynamic periods for the industry. Under Rajesh’s leadership, Max Life Insurance has become the largest non-bank life insurer in the country having a consistent record of profitable growth for the past five years. He has made significant contribution as a senior industry leader by shaping industry agenda as member of various committees in industry bodies. He is especially passionate about “customer centricity” and as the Chairman of the Consumer Awareness Committee of Life Insurance Council led that agenda

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1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

It would not be wrong if I say that it was baptism by fire when I took over as CEO & Managing Director of the company. Major global economies were reeling under the financial turmoil and India was not immune to its impact.

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2. How much of that has been achieved? What were the challenges faced?

Since inception, we as a company were clear that we want to earn the admiration of all the stakeholders and that is reflected in our vision ‘to be the most admired life insurance company by securing the financial future of our customers’

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3. How do you respond to the needs of changing market scenario (with an example)?

As an organisation, we see every changing dynamic in the industry as a challenge to get better, get stronger and get more efficient. Most importantly we view it as an opportunity to bridge the need gaps of our customers.
A good example will be to take the advancement of technology and how most customers and potential customers are now going online

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4. How has the market evolved in the last few years?

The life insurance industry has undergone significant changes in terms of regulations in the past few years. While ULIPs have undergone a complete makeover with lower charges, traditional products too have been overhauled to deliver higher value to customers.

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5.What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently? And what are the steps you are taking?

The biggest challenge which Max Life Insurance as a company is facing is something that is common with other life insurance companies. This is the problem of making people understand that life insurance is a long-term commitment to build corpus for life stage goals as well as to protect life style and meet those goals even in the absence of breadwinner.

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6. How have the changes in technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

Digital insurance in India is set to increase rapidly and is supported by the broadening of the digital influence in India. The fundamental contributor for this digital explosion is the rapidly increasing mobile and internet penetration in India.

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7. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

At Max Life we believe in attracting and nurturing top talent, We believe in giving them opportunity to not just grow vertically but also to expand their skill sets and thus move across different verticals.

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8. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

process, managers share the status of the talent in their unit with their managers.

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9. What are the 3 key aspects you look at when you hire your direct reports?

At Max Life, we lay utmost emphasis on our established value system: Caring, Credibility, Collaboration and Excellence. I personally seek people who share similar values in their professional and personal life.

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10. How does the growth prospect of your organization look like for the next 12-24 months?

We expect the industry to regain its growth momentum and private life insurance companies are expected to record double digit growth.

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11. Will there be any significant change in the market dynamics in next few years? If so, what steps are you taking for the same?

Our focus over the next few years will be on advocacy of the consumers and the regulators. We will also look to share our point of view through participation in industry forums, dissemination of white papers and participating in insurance committees. .

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12. How Indian leaders can become Global Leaders?

A few traits to be successful global leaders that I personally feel are most important are:
Business knowledge and innovation
Building close relationships
Ability to handle complexity
Gain a cultural knowledge and understanding of as many markets that the organisation is present in-
Communication clarity:

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13. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

The 3 things that shaped me into who I am today happened at various stages of my life..

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14. What key lessons have you learnt from any mistakes, if any, made in the past? How would you do it differently?

Leadership is the art of role modelling and inspiring collaborative action at every level of the organisation to achieve sustainable results aligned to the common vision.

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15. How do you define & practice leadership?

I think as a leader the key to be successful is to hire people who are value add consistently. Empower them with the tools, technology and the processes to do what they do best and then get out of the way.

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16. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

The one thing I would like to share with young professionals is that we live in a world of limitless opportunities. Life is a marathon not a sprint. Stay hungry and humble while looking to evolve continuously, reflect, learn and grow as a person.

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