Benoît’s career path:
1988-1993: Master’s in Business Administration at Solvay Business School
1993-1995: Euroclear – Business Analyst
1995-2003: Accenture BeLux (Financial Services) – from Analyst to Manager
2003-2007: Fortis Insurance Belgium – Deputy General Manager e-Benefits program
2007-2009: AG Insurance – Deputy General Manager Central Support Non-Life & Broker Channel
2009-2012: UBI Assicurazioni – CEO
2012-2015: AG Insurance – General Manager Bank Channel Non-Life
2015-2018: AG Insurance – General Manager Strategic projects
2018 - present: AG Insurance – currently General Manager Non-Life Enterprises
Why is insurance a match for you?
Firstly, it answers many of my cores values. Think about what insurance actually does – mutualizing risks so that in difficult moments people can be helped – this is a nice purpose to work for. Then if you look at how the sector is evolving, it is fun to see how innovation and new ways of working are coming in. Insurance is a business with plenty of means. When we introduce changes, we do this steadily and surely, for the long-term. Insurance is also a bit like in consulting: there are so many opportunities if you are willing to take them. I changed roles almost every three years, and I have been lucky to do many different types of things, from intrapreunerial projects, to people management, strategy, and international assignments... All of this makes insurance a great industry to work for, even if it doesn’t look like the sexiest one from the outside.
The e-Benefits program was avant la lettre. What drives insurance innovation today?
It’s true that the e-Benefits solution was very innovative for its time (early 2000s). It was developed by Accenture and at that time, I was a manager on the project. In fact, a lot of innovations now coming on the market are only just catching up with what was done then! Of course, current technologies enable even more customer centric solutions. In particular, AI will change the way insurance works, and as a result, services to our clients will evolve dramatically.
How is AG addressing these changes?
Between 2015-2018, I was given the chance to focus all my energy on strategic initiatives, in particular understanding how emerging technologies and new ways of working could influence our industry. And there are a lot of changes coming. The good part is that the purpose of insurance is not at stake – the world will continue to be a risky place and people will continue to look for mutualizing risks. But the way we achieve that purpose will change. That’s why more and more insurers are seeking to expand the ways they serve their clients. At AG we call this “Beyond Insurance”. It involves understanding what people really need and how we can provide them with great solutions.
Any concrete examples of projects in the pipeline?
We are currently launching a new concept in pilot on the market, Phil at Home (NL, FR), a solution designed to enable elderly people to live longer and safer in their own homes. This will bring them and their families peace of mind. The concept gathers together technology, services and a very strong human touch to fulfill this promise. It involves cross-industry partnerships and alliances, which are becoming more and more important for us.
One of your previous roles included three years in Milan as CEO of the newly acquired UBI Assicurazioni. What was the experience like?
Milan was probably one of the most challenging but also the funniest times for me. Professionally, I had the opportunity to lead a brand-new joint venture with three partners that had never worked together before (Ageas, Cardif and UBI Banca). The challenges were many. We had to create a new dynamic in the company, generate growth, restore profitability, learn a new culture and a new language… Successfully overcoming these challenges and creating a strong team of professionals and friends along the way is certainly one of my best professional memories. On the personal side, Milan was a great place to be expatriated. I moved there with my wife and children and we all had to adapt to a new reality. It was about learning a new language, making new friends, creating a new circle of people we could trust. At the end of the assignment, we came back to Belgium with a new “home town” in which we still feel totally at ease.
What does your current role involve and what’s on the horizon?
Since summer 2018, I am heading the Non-Life Enterprise activity at AG. We are currently the second largest Non-Life insurer for Enterprises in Belgium, and we have the ambition to grow this business further. Insurance for enterprises is growing but it is extremely competitive, so finding the right balance between growth and profitability is not easy. My role involves, reorganizing the activity, driving change, designing new ways of working and getting everyone focused on the challenge.
Any outstanding memories of your Accenture years?
My memories are all outstanding, probably due to the fact that they were my younger years! But seriously, they were good years. A lot of work, wide variety of assignments, great people… you name it. If I had to pick some funny memories, they would include a French manager falling asleep during steering committees in Flemish and my first mission in Amsterdam (because that would be the best way to learn Dutch). And of course, I have great memories of the e-Benefits project where the team was truly outstanding. I could go on and on...
Anything you learned at Accenture that is still useful today?
Flexibility of learning and doing: You learn that you can actually fulfil many different roles in many different domains.
Long-term vision: The capacity to do everything as if you were there to stay and at the same time making sure you share the knowledge with those around you so that teams can take over.
Intrapreneurship: How to be an entrepreneur within an organization, how to balance autonomy, responsibility, delivery.
Do you have time for any passions outside work?
I make sure to keep time for my family and kids and doing sport. Last year, I ran in an Olympic triathlon in Lisbon. This year’s project is to run a marathon in Milan!