On May 22nd 2017 ALUCA hosted its first Executive Leaders Forum at Taronga Zoo, which was a special invitation-only intimate retreat for executive leaders ( Underwriters and Claims heads) in the Australian life insurance industry. The Forum was designed specifically for Life Insurance leaders to come together in the unique environment of Taronga Zoo in Sydney to examine the serious topic of leadership and the hardwired instincts of humans. This was approached through an exploration of the hardwired instincts of humans and how we can better understand them through our behavioural similarities with chimpanzees. This discussion provided attendees with a framework through which they could better understand human organizational behaviour.
The forum also provided participants with the opportunity to hear first hand from a CEO panel which started the day. Chaired by ALUCA CEO Amanda McKernan, the roundtable discussion provided a context to the rapid changes at work in the Australian business environment from the perspective of each leader. Amanda was joined by Brett Clark (CEO of TAL), Andrew Gill (Managing Director of Pacific Life RE) and Adam Goldberger (Executive General Manager of mlcoa). Together, the group discussed current industry challenges and how each firm was driving change and growth. A key takeaway shared by the group, was the need to raise awareness of the good work and value created by the life insurance industry. In particular, the need to communicate with consumers through marketing good news stories about the industry’s beneficial contribution to the community.
A large part of the day was led by Hardwired Human Instincts expert, Andrew O’Keeffe who is also the bestselling author of “Hard Wired Humans”. He provided some deep insights into the power of the nine hard-wired human instincts that underpin our individual behaviour. This in turn, provided a key framework in how to apply these instincts to better leverage our people leadership, change management and customer strategies to generate innovation and foster intelligent leadership choices. This is of particular importance in light of the regulatory changes over the last 12 months. The group also participated in a workshop which focused on an application of human’s hard-wired instincts to improve management practices and our communications.
Nancy Maloney (CEO of the Jane Goodall Institute) took the group through the leadership styles of different alpha male chimpanzees and highlighted the impact each of their individual styles had on the broader chimp community with so many parallels to organisational leadership styles and behaviours!
The group then enjoyed a session at Taronga’s chimp exhibit with a firsthand look at chimp behaviour during feeding time. The actions of the alpha male, Lebutu, underpinned the important role equity plays in leadership, as he distributed the food amongst the group.
With an emphasis on innovation as an engine for growth, Jason Clarke (Founder and CEO of Minds at Work) was the last speaker at the Forum. He provided a toolkit of creative problem-solving techniques to help keep great minds at work during difficult times. As a speaker, he reinforced the need to foster a corporate culture of creativity in order to better adapt to changes in the industry as demand for complex problem solving and innovation rises.
The day concluded with ALUCA’s chair, Jim Welsh, emphasising the purpose of the event was a vehicle to educate, develop and connect participants. The event provided a terrific opportunity for networking and connection among members and tied in with ALUCA’s new strategic direction designed around five pillars – member engagement, stakeholder value, thought leadership, professional development and sustainability.
ALUCA thanks all our platinum sponsors – TAL, SwissRe, mlcoa and Pacific Life Re – and the event’s speakers for their contribution to the forum.
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