The pioneering leadership is a combination of exemplary skills, abilities and talents. To lead organization successfully, it is essential for leaders to have good amount of competence, as it plays a significant role in the success of the organization and its clients. When the same competence is paired with strong managerial and technical skills, the results attained are excellent. An embodiment of such a leadership is Mr. Sami Sharif. He is the CEO of Kuwait Insurance Company (KIC) since 2016.
Prior to KIC, Mr. Sharif has held various leadership roles in different renowned companies. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Space Physics and a Master’s Degree in Mathematics both from the University of Houston – USA. He worked for several years as a lecturer in mathematics and statistics at the same university. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) in the USA since 1996 and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) since 1993. Besides, he also has an in-depth experience in life, health, and general insurance, and takaful. He carries an immense knowledge of strategic management consulting combined with sound actuarial background. He also has in-depth experience in launching and leading new insurance operations in different countries.
KIC has a full line of conventional and takaful insurance products for corporate and individuals covering general insurance, life insurance and money accumulation. It has more than 200 employees and 10 branches in Kuwait.
Being Driven by Achievement, Innovation and People Development
Mr. Sharif is driven by KIC’s shared values i.e. Achievement, Innovation and People Development. He mentions that the company cares for its staff, shareholders, and clients. It adheres to a set of values.
KIC’s vision is to be the fastest growing company in Kuwait and to expand geographically. It aspires to be the company of choice for personal and commercial insurance products and services. It aims to be the fastest and the simplest in delivering its services and the most advanced in using technology. It envisions to be the company of choice for employment. All the efforts of Mr. Sami are in the direction towards achieving this goal.
KIC’s mission is to provide its clients with the most competitive products in terms of benefits, values and services, to provide its distribution channels with state-of-the-art services, to invest on developing its staff, and to be a school of insurance and management. Besides, the company also believes in being sales-driven and in achieving its sales target. It believes in differentiating itself with innovative Products & Services, Distribution Channels, and Technology. It believes in its people to exhibit Knowledge, Leadership, and Communication & Interpersonal Skills.
Having Advantage of Experienced Staff
Talking about the challenges, Mr. Sharif shares that KIC had to deal with a challenge of political risk since the area is inflamed with many political problems that lead to some business instability in the region. Maintaining the size of the portfolio was a major challenge for KIC.
KIC is the first insurance company in Kuwait and the GCC. It has the advantage of keeping experienced staff who have been with the company for decades. Taking some of the key staff to the most advanced ways to run a business, in particular the reliance on technology, was a challenge that they enjoyed the stages to overcome it.
Being Influenced by Working with Great People
Mr. Sharif is an ex-consultant with McKinsey& Co. that he considers his best school. He still cherishes the days he worked for Mckinsey, the people he worked with, and the leaders that he worked under such as Mr. Dominic Barton. In addition, he has worked with people who had a great influence on him, like:
- His mathematics professor Dr. Klaus Kaiser at University of Houston.
- His space physics professor Dr. Bering at University of Houston.
- His first actuarial manager Mr. Marc Pitoniac who taught me how to survive under any work challenges.
- Abbas Khalaf, Regional president of ALICO, MEASA Region who taught him leadership.
- Barry Jacobson, President of ACE Life (now Chubb) a great leader.
- Ghazi Abu Nahl, President of Nest Investments hard work and perseverance.
Evaluating Employees Objectively and Compensating them Fairly
Mr. Sharif has created a positive environment at KIC where everyone thrives. The company strongly believes in the well-being of its employees. It strongly encourages education and pays all education expenses to its employees.
Moreover, it created the first company kitchen run by a professional chef to provide daily healthy meals to its staff at minimum charges. It created a nursery at work to help mothers with baby kids, age 0-5 at no charge. It has a thorough 360 system to evaluate its employees objectively and to compensate them fairly. It established KIC academy to offer professional courses and training to its staff.
Striking a Balance between People Safety and Business Safety
When Covid-19 pandemic arrived, it had its pros and cons on the insurance industry as a whole. However, Mr. Sharif sees more pros than cons. The way of doing business became more technology-driven, as technology is a key success factor for all industries including insurance.
AKIC puts a balance between people safety and business safety. As such, it was present and functional in its market.
Contributing to Community with Welfare Services
When it comes to giving back to the community, KIC always stands tall. On almost monthly basis, it runs different campaigns Examples:
- Cleaning the beach in Kuwait
- Blood Donation campaign
- Brest cancer awareness campaign
- Diabetes awareness campaign
Being People Person and Expanding Robustly
Mr. Sharif advises aspiring and emerging CEOs in the insurance industry to work on their technical and managerial skills. He tells them to learn the essence of leadership and cultivate a healthy lifestyle. He asks them to be rough, tough, but reasonable.
Besides, he also advises them to be people person, have a large connection in industry, and to avoid arrogance and give smile to everyone.