LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT FORWARD THINKING


antony-jacob-amhiWho do you think is an ideal leader?
I believe that an ideal leader is one who leads by example. He needs to have wisdom, determination and a heart that ensures everyone moves in the same direction with a common goal.
A leader must remain composed and steadfast. He must be a forward-thinker all the time. An open channel of communication with all employees is essential today. Employees demand to know what is going on within an organization and appreciate the openness of the CEOs who willingly and freely share their thoughts and encourage feedback.

What is the toughest challenge you have faced in building up the brand name for Apollo Munich?
The health insurance segment was at a nascent stage five years ago when I took up the reins of Apollo Munich. With a young, enthusiastic group of individuals, we headed forward and made it what it is today – a leader in the stand-alone health insurance segment.
One of the biggest challenges that we faced from day one was the general perception about health insurance. People thought it was complicated, cumbersome and there was also a lack of trust in the claims processes. When you are in a customer facing business, it is imperative to hold the right customer perception as a brand. Apollo DKV was changed to Apollo Munich and new brand values were laid down by keeping customer service at the core. We embraced the concept of ‘Let’s Uncomplicate’ and worked towards building the brand of Apollo Munich.
Over the past six years, we have positioned Apollo Munich as a straightforward, user-friendly and hassle-free health insurance company that helps people understand the need for health insurance. We focus on keeping the processes easy for people seeking comprehensive health insurance for themselves and their loved ones.

How important do you think has been the role of your employees in Apollo Munich’s success?
People are the most essential part of any company’s operations and more so in the service sector. When you talk about a brand, it is imperative that the employees who work at an organisation reflect the brand’s values and, in turn, the company shares its values with its internal employees.

What values does Apollo Munich represent?
‘Let’s Uncomplicate’ is not just our positioning, it is our belief and journey. Since the inception of Apollo Munich, we have introduced several simple processes that help people understand the need for health insurance. Starting from our products to policy documents to customer servicing – everything has been made uncomplicated for the customers. Even in our advertisements, we use clear communication and refrain from using any kind of condition.
It’s been a great journey so far and I often come to know that our customers are proud and love to share that they are insured by Apollo Munich. It’s a great responsibility and we would do whatever is required to exhibit our integrity toward this core belief.

What’s the annual turnover and the market share of Apollo Munich? Where do you see things five years down the line?
Apollo Munich Health Insurance closed the 2013-2014 financial year at Gross Written Premium (GWP) $ 115 million, reflecting a growth of 12 per cent over the previous financial year.
We believe that the health insurance segment will continue to grow exponentially in the coming five-year horizon, as healthcare costs continue to rise and people cannot spend on medical facilities from their own personal financial resources. In addition to that, the amplified awareness and engagement with customers has increased the acceptability of health insurance as a healthcare financing tool. Health insurance is slowly becoming a buyers’ market. In the next five years, Apollo Munich should grow into a formidable size.
We currently hold a market share of 5 per cent of the country’s total health insurance portfolio, and 12 per cent in the private health insurance space. Leading and managing brand operations are extremely taxing roles.

How do you de-stress yourself?
We start our week by setting goals. This helps us to complete the tasks in a timely fashion. Working with a strong core team also helps maintain concentration levels, as we are all working towards the same goal in the same economic environment.
I like to spend time with my family over the weekends. Also, golf is a passion that I picked up many years ago.

Though India has no dearth of talent why is it that we still don’t have many Indian iconic brands competing on a global level?
I do not agree with the statement that we do not have iconic brands. Just think of leading corporate stalwarts such as Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, L&T, Reliance, Infosys, Wipro, etc. These are all Indian homegrown brands that are known abroad.
Some of these companies have focussed their efforts on the Indian market and not necessarily built a global name. The IT companies are globally recognised in the B2B space, not in the consumer space. Hence such thoughts may arise.

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