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Conversation with AXA Group Japan CEO Seiji Yasubuchi

Conversation with AXA Group Japan CEO Seiji Yasubuchi

On April 14th, I had the pleasure to conduct an onstage conversation with AXA Group Japan CEO Seiji Yasubuchi for the French Chamber of Commerce. Below is a summary of my takeaways from the conversation.

  1. Today, the insurance business is as much about enabling clients to prevent bad things from happening, not just stepping in after bad things happen.
  2. Preventative services for small and medium-size enterprises in Japan beyond traditional contingent services can include…
    1. Succession planning in family-owned businesses
    2. Preparing business to be sold at a highest possible value
    3. Looking after health of employees, including mental health. In a small business, a single person can have a large impact on the business when unable to be present.
  3. Innovation is a culture for the leader of the business to create from top down.
    1. Rewarding and recognizing small successes in innovation as a way to start culture change.
    2. Deliberately asking staff provocative questions to prompt innovative ideas. Do this enough, and eventually staff will begin to ask provocative questions on their own.
    3. Flattening organization helps accelerate innovation by reducing the layers a good idea must pass to reach the top.
    4. It helps to be an ignoramus when promoting innovation inside the business. A leader who is not a domain expert has no preconceived notions about the industry and will question conventional wisdom that others take for granted.
  4. Sometimes a leader needs to kickstart a culture of diversity in an organization by intervening directly in making appointments.
  5. There is never a justification for compromising excellence for the sake of diversity nor compromising diversity for the sake of excellence. You can have both as long as you do things right.
  6. Conversation with AXA Group Japan CEO Seiji YasubuchiOften the biggest problem in lack of diversity is an excess of mediocre men as a result of entrenched practices of hiring and promoting men despite superior women candidates.
  7. A fertility expert in the audience suggested the idea of a fertility insurance product. Fertility treatments are costly, and success is never guaranteed. Some people looking at starting a family balk at the investment cost. Both the Japanese government, for which population decline is an issue, and people looking to start families have a mutual interest in a possible insurance product if that is what it takes to decide for fertility treatment.
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