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Economy

Munich Re offers best chances for trainees

Why is Munich Re an attractive employer for young talents? Joachim Wenning, Munich Re’s CEO, met Carla Havemann and Viktoriia Kniazevich, two trainees starting their careers at Munich Re. They talked about opportunities for personal growth, digitalisation, skill requirements – and how to become a trusted innovation partner for start-ups.

06.09.2017

Carla Havemann
Mr Wenning, do you remember your first impressions when you started working for Munich Re?

Joachim Wenning
My experience was mixed. The positive thing was that I found the culture to be polite and gentle. You can feel that many have international experience. A lot of what is going on in the world is gathered here in their minds and in the activities of the people. That attracted me. The shocking element was it was very bureaucratic and formal.

Carla Havemann 
It was kind of the same for me. What I also remember is there was always an open door. People always took the time to explain things – even on a busy day.

Joachim Wenning
That is true! Let us start at the beginning: what brought you to Munich Re?

Carla Havemann 
Well, I read about ERGO while I was in India. So I started researching, and came across Munich Re. Its international Group Trainee Program Explore looked like a perfect fit. In the end, this was the tipping point in favour of Munich Re.

Viktoriia Kniazevich 
Munich Re was definitely the first choice for me, because I knew it already from my internship in Singapore. What impressed me was basically the development opportunities. Munich Re really encourages personal and professional growth. Look at the number of training courses we have internally and externally, the learning opportunities, the international assignments. It is not what every company can suggest to an employee. 

Joachim Wenning
What do those of your age group think about your choice?

Carla Havemann 
Well, to be honest, most of my friends did not really know Munich Re or reinsurance. They thought I was going to try to sell insurance policies to them.

Joachim Wenning
Do you think that our Group is attractive to young talents?

Carla Havemann
Munich Re has everything a company needs to attract young talents – especially the international aspect, which my friends always feel is important.

© Munich Re
Munich Re’s Group Trainee Program Explore looked like a perfect fit.
Carla Havemann
Munich Re

Viktoriia Kniazevich 
What I found exciting when I joined:Munich Re has a wide range of career paths. Our Group hires lawyers, engineers, geo experts, and cyber experts – people from different backgrounds. There is an opportunity for everyone to find their own field of expertise, to find the job which fits his or her interests and skills.

Joachim Wenning
Why don’t digital natives and millennials find us appealing? Munich Re is in a sort of established industry and seems to be uncool.

Carla Havemann
I think the perception of the insurance industry is way different than things actually are. Once I started with Munich Re, I went to the innovation lab and discovered so many innovative parts of the Group. That is cool! It is just not very well known. For example, cyber insurance could attract people who are specialised in digital fields.

Joachim Wenning
One of our ambitions is to successfully transform our existing business digitally. How does this business ambition make you feel? Where would you see your place?

Viktoriia Kniazevich
I guess I made a decision already. Working with our units in Silicon Valley played a big role in encouraging me to stay with innovation. Currently, I work in a digital solutions team, and my job day-to-day is to look for new start-ups and technologies.

Joachim Wenning
Great experience! Would you share with us the most attractive and successful  start-up you got to know?

Viktoriia Kniazevich
It is not any one in particular. For me, there are two types of start-ups which have future potential. The first are start-ups which create totally new coverages, like on-demand insurance. They are really transformative. The second are improving communication with end-customers. They implement artificial intelligence tools like chatbots, which have great potential.

© Munich Re
We have become a trusted innovation partner for start-ups and digital partners.
Viktoriia Kniazevich
Munich Re

Joachim Wenning
Your background is in economics and law. Did you feel overwhelmed by the digital people and their topics at the beginning?

Viktoriia Kniazevich
It doesn’t take long to learn all those things, especially when you are interested. I wanted to understand the start-ups – what it takes for them to get their business idea live. I had to read many books and watch programmes, and I attended open lectures on entrepreneurship by Stanford professors.

Joachim Wenning
Can you do programming? Would this be necessary to really be successful in the new business world?

Carla Havemann
Absolutely, but I don’t think you need to be an expert. I have tried programming.

Viktoriia Kniazevich
I can only agree. I am planning to start learning Informatics this autumn. It will be more efficient if I can speak the same language. Having some digital capabilities means I don’t have to take everything I am told for granted.

In a nutshell:
Munich Re is an attractive employer for young talents. A talk between CEO Joachim Wenning and trainees Carla Havemann and Viktoriia Kniazevich.

Joachim Wenning
Start-ups say that you can learn business know-how more easily than you can learn to drive it digitally.

Viktoriia Kniazevich
Let’s put it this way: what I like about start-ups is their ability to find knowledge. They don’t know how to do things on their own, but they always find their way. This is important.

Carla Havemann
Yes, all the start-ups have good advisors from the industry. They talk to a lot of experts outside. We can do the same, just the other way around.

Viktoriia Kniazevich
I would say we have become a trusted innovation partner for start-ups and digital partners – a good example for other insurance companies. Will we be developing further in this field?

Joachim Wenning
Strategically, long-term there is absolutely no option but to innovate. We have to be good at it. The established business will gradually transform and take up everything that makes sense digitally. It will thus reform itself and become a better business. Even if this creates constant conflict – from a cultural and motivational perspective – in our everyday work, as we transact traditional business at the same time as innovating.

© Munich Re
One of our ambitions is to successfully transform our existing business digitally.
Joachim Wenning
CEO Munich Re

Viktoriia Kniazevich
Who will own the digital insurance business – will it be us, or newcomers from outside the industry?

Joachim Wenning 
The big question! Will purely digital companies be quicker and better at learning and integrating insurance domain expertise into their business model? Or will we be better and quicker at integrating this digital technology into our business? Frankly, this is the challenge. I believe it will be us. One reason is that we have the access to our clients. and our clients want to work with us. But they also want more service elements. Let’s build them and let’s earn the loyalty of our clients.

Viktoriia Kniazevich
In my view, the transformation element is the most important. We are not only becoming innovative for the outside world: the mindset of employees throughout the company is changing. Innovation is not only about new business models, it is not only about new technologies. It is also about how you do your daily work.

Joachim Wenning
Many thanks. Talking with you both about digitalisation and change has confirmed one thing: as the young generation, you have a massive advantage compared to us old guys. You do not need as much structure, as many rules or guidelines. You do not need as much order, or as many processes to organise yourselves. It happens – you bring people together. Be aware of this strength. This is very powerful within an organisation.

Read more about the takeaways of Joachim Wenning:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/diversity-key-three-takeaways-attract-young-talent-joachim-wenning

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