Marji Guyler-Alaniz is the President of AgriSompo International, and the Chief Operating Officer of AgriSompo North America.

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Taking on Challenges: Our Asia Business Review  

What is it about the fall and early winter that puts everything in fast forward?  School and sports get back into full swing, filling up our personal calendars while crop agent training happens, fall business comes on the books, harvest happens across much of the world, and resulting crop insurance claims get filed in the U.S.  We are also finalizing plans and getting to work on where we will go and what we will do in 2024.   

This fall brought a new opportunity my way: to join a group of five other Sompo colleagues in a project to learn about, assess, and be a part of strategic planning for Sompo’s business in the South Asia Pacific region. Our company, Sompo International, writes many types of commercial and personal lines of insurance in countries around the world from Brazil to Canada and England to Singapore.  

Meet Adam Golding, CFO for Sompo International Markets, David Carter, CUO for Sompo North America, Takashi Kurumisawa, CFO for Sompo Asia, Drew Remington, SVP of Analytics and Actuarial for AgriSompo, and Alex Juul, Property CAT Underwriter and Strategy for the CEO.

 

From left to right: Alex Juul, Adam Golding, Drew Remington, Myself, David Carter and Takashi Kurumisawa.

 

This was a diverse and really effective group. “Everyone approaches things differently and it is from those unique differences that the project really took shape and ultimately, came together,” said Alex Juul. 

We spent September in virtual meetings with the leadership teams in six countries that Sompo currently writes commercial and personal line business in -- Singapore, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.  In mid-October, we made our way to the other side of the globe and met in person in Singapore.  Drew Remington and I put on our tourist hats our first day there, which was a Sunday. We took in all the sights, sounds, and food that we could muster.  Singapore is a significant trade route in Southeast Asia and is truly a hub of cultures.  The people were very friendly, the shopping districts bustling, and it might have been just about the cleanest, and one of the most humid places, on Earth.

 

Drew Remington and I in Singapore.

 

We kicked off a full week of in-person meetings with much of the leadership in the region on Monday, traveled to meet the Malaysia team in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, and finished the rest of the week back in Singapore, soaking in everything we could about the business, asking questions, and coalescing our thoughts as a group.  It was truly a great experience!  We gained a decent understanding of our business in the region and I believe we brought different perspectives to the team there as we had a good look from the outside in. 

Every opportunity to get involved in something new and different like this is just that, an opportunity.  An opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Sure, it adds to your “day” job, but it’s much more than that. The opportunity to take part in and learn from these types of projects is part of the job.  It’s part of the exciting global mindset that brought me to AgriSompo and keeps me engaged and excited to bring my best self to work every day.  It’s the opportunity to lead, be challenged, and learn along the way.  David Carter summed it up well, “Being part of a project team with each of you enriches our knowledge, expands our friendships in the company, and gives a deeper connection to Sompo.”  This group was an opportunity to form new relationships that absolutely help us further our broad goals as a global company, and I have continued to collaborate with each of these colleagues on various business aspects, separate from Sompo in Asia. 

As Alex best put it, “Stepping out of one's comfort zone, both personally and professionally, helps you expand your knowledge base and gain a better perspective.”  Next time you find yourself on the threshold of a new project, take the step.  Jump in with both feet because while it might challenge you, it will also make you better.  As we look to 2024, what is your next challenge prompting growth?