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Report - Participation in the Young Leaders Programme at the ICMIF Biennial Conference

ICMIF announced that it would once again be running a Young Leaders Programme (YLP)  at its next Biennial Conference, which will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, from 12 to 15 November 2019. It will be a second YLP after the first one held at the Biennial Conference in London last year. This decision is based on the fact that a very high evaluation was given to the programme from participants and member organizations.

Following this trend, the AOA Seminar held in Hong Kong from 6 to 7 December 2018 will also have a programme for young employees.

This is a reprint with permission of the report by participants of last year’s Young Leader Programme that was published in the February 2018 issue of the monthly magazine “Cooperative and Commercial Insurance” issued by Japan Cooperative Insurance Association Inc. (JCIA), an ICMIF member.

We hope it will be helpful for you to understand the actual contents and atmosphere of the YLP in considering participation in the above events.


Reprinted from Japan Cooperative Insurance Association Inc.’s monthly magazine “Cooperative and Commercial Insurance” (February 2018 issue)

Report – Participation in the Young Leaders Programme
at the ICMIF Biennial Conference


Participants in the YLP (2017 London) from Zenkyoren (Japan)
Tatsuya Matsuura, Yuki Nii, Hiroki Yoshida, Keisuke Sasaki, Hiroki Matsuura

1. Introduction

At the previous Biennial Conference of the ICMIF held in 2015, “utilization of digital technology in cooperative/mutual and commercial insurance sectors” and “the youth (Generation Y)”, who are said to be digital native, drew attention. The Biennial Conference was held in London, the United Kingdom this time, where the “Young Leaders Programme” (YLP) for the generations below the age of 35 was incorporated into the conference programme as a new initiative.

The YLP aims to give opportunities to young employees of the ICMIF member organizations and to expand the areas of their future activities. As an opportunity for young employees from different countries and regions to learn and expand their networks, three sub-programmes were arranged under the YLP this time: “Networking“, “Training programme” and “Roundtable discussions with ICMIF member CEOs“.

55 people from 16 countries in the world participated in the YLP. They had a wide variety of expertise and they belonged to various type of departments. They had diverse titles as well, ranging from executives to staff members. From Japan, 13 people participated in total: 5 from Zenkyoren, 5 from JCIF, 2 from Zenrosai, and 1 from UCMAF.

Rondtable discussions with ICMIF member CEOs

Commemorative photo of YLP paticipants


2. Preliminary preparation and information sharing utilizing IT

Corresponding to the characteristics of digital native generations, an innovative method utilizing IT was adopted for the preparation of the YLP. The participants made a registration (including self-introduction) through a SNS (Social Networking Service) called “LinkedIn”, and a network was established that enabled the participants to grasp the information on other participants through the SNS in advance. The group organization for breakfast sessions was also done according to the contents registered at the SNS beforehand.


LinkedIn screen
3. Young Leaders Programme (Contents)


Date Time Contents of the Programme
October 17 (Tue) 18:00-19:30 Welcome reception for the participants
October 18 (Wed) 07:30-08:30 Breakfast session 1: “Training Programme”
Theme: “Communication skills required as a leader”
Lecturer: Mr. James O’Loughlin  (JOL Consulting, UK)
18:00-19:00 Networking (a get-together meeting among the participants)
October 19 (Thu) 07:30-08:30 Breakfast session 2: “Rondtable discussions with ICMIF member CEOs”


 (1) Networking

What was emphasized throughout the Programme is network building among the participants. Opportunities were provided for the participants to exchange information among themselves during every stage of the Programme, including the welcome reception and get-together. By sharing common issues and problems relating to their day-to-day work, information was found that would be tips for the solution. Also, by discovering and sharing that they have common issues and ideas unique to the ICMIF members even though their countries differ, the distances among the participants shrunk, and finally it enabled them to build networks across borders.


  (2) Training programme

In the training programme, Mr. James O’Loughlin, CEO of JOL Consulting, was invited as a lecturer, and a forum for exchanging opinions with participants was arranged together with a lecture on leadership and learning skills.

The contents of the lecture were about “communication skills required as a leader”. After reminding the participants of the two facts that (a) there are multiple viewpoints to grasp matters that give large differences in understandings by the recipients of communications, and (b) people tend to see only what they want to believe, the following three points were mentioned as important factors for making people understand something.

[Important factors for others to understand your ideas]

(i) To make them receive your message as their own affair,
(ii) To make them understand what value your message has, and
(iii) To make them understand about the concrete action that they should take.

What we learned through this lecture provided an opportunity for us to reconfirm the expressions that can be easily conveyed to the other party, and it also turned out to be a preparatory exercise for the discussions with the executives of the ICMIF member organizations on the next day.


 (3) Roundtable discussions with ICMIF member CEOs

The highlight of the Programme was the discussion with the CEOs of the ICMIF member organizations.

All the participants were divided into eight groups determined in advance, with each group consisting of one CEO and seven to eight participants of the Programme seated at the round table, and the participants freely asked questions to the CEOs. This style of discussion was set under the concept that an opportunity to talk directly with the executives of foreign top-ranking organizations is a very valuable experience for our generation, who usually have few opportunities to discuss with executives even within our own organizations, and therefore it would be a significant experience for our future growth.

The participated executives were also selected from various countries and regions. From Japan, Mr. Shinichi Mima, Senior Managing Director of Zenkyoren participated. We, the participants from Japan, would like to introduce some of the impressive remarks of the executives during the discussions at each group, in the table below.


Name of the executive;
affiliated organization and country
Participating country and number of participants Impressive remarks by the executives
Hilde Vernaillen
Japan: 2
USA:  2
Italy:  1
Germany: 1
Philippines: 1
In order to realize an organizational innovation, young people need to explain its value within the organization. For newly-hired staff of P&V, I transfer them to a different department every 3 months after joining the company and let them know the whole organization. Also, all the staff gather annually to hold various seminars. If automated driving vehicles are to emerge in the future, there is a possibility that a party to an insurance will have to be changed because it will not be clear where the responsibility lies in case of an accident. In this way, the environment and situation surrounding insurance will change constantly, but please make efforts to form an organization that can respond to such changes.
Tom Gitogo
CIC Insurance Group
Japan: 1
USA:  2
Canada:  1
UK: 1
Germany: 1
It is important to nurture young leaders. Kenya has many young people in population composition ratio. Farmers and the poor consist most of the population, and I think that it is necessary to provide products for them. Kenya is also participating in the ICMIF’s “5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy” project because the country has an issue of low insurance penetration rate. We are also working toward realizing the dissemination of insurance with the support from insurance companies in Germany and other countries. Utilisation of mobile technology can be expected, I believe, as the country has a high penetration rate of mobile phones and smartphones.
Ken Ng
NTUC Income
Japan: 2
USA:  1
Canada:  1
UK: 2
Switzerland: 1
Both Amazon and Alibaba have entered Singapore. As competition is intensifying over the Southeast Asian markets, in order to grasp the opportunity certainly, the organization must also change constantly. Digitization can be a means of realizing such changes. Meanwhile, in social business, not only the pursuit of profit but also social evaluations are required. While some of the services provided through digitization may be contradictory to what the society requires, it is necessary to judge where the balance is to be maintained, by grasping and understanding the social needs.
Brad Hewitt
Thrivent Financial
Japan: 2
UK: 1
Switzerland: 1
Denmark: 1
France: 1
South Africa: 1
Using smartphone applications, we are strengthening our approach to the Millennial generation (young generation, GenY). Together with interactive consulting through the applications, we are also considering the utilization of IBM Watson. We are focusing on nurturing young people and improving their motivation through elaborately considered measures, such as giving them responsible tasks, encouraging them to participate actively in important meetings, and providing them with opportunities to experience a variety of work.
Rob Wesseling
The Co-operators
Japan: 1
Germany: 2
Switzerland: 1
France: 1
Argentina: 1
South Africa: 1
Lebanon: 1
Though we have been troubled by occasional flood in Canada, the risks had not been visualized before. By developing our own flood risk model, we have spread a residence insurance to be prepared for flood. Since there was not so much prospect of profit, some staff within the company initially opposed to introduce such insurance. However, considering that the protection of the lives of residents must be the first priority, and judging that enabling people to recognize flood risks is more important than anything, we have ventured into the development of such insurance. The very reason why we were able to make a decision like this was that because we are cooperative insurance business.
Kumar Shailabh
Uplift Mutuals
Japan: 2
USA:  1
Canada:  1
UK: 1
Germany: 1
Belgium: 1
25% of Indian families are in a situation where one hospitalization would make them difficult to survive economically. Under such situation, we have established a mutual aid organization / medical expenses coverage system to be operated with the participation of members. Tied up with domestic IT companies, we develop and operate smartphone applications, provide guarantee systems, provide information on medical institutions and so on. India has a very large population and many young people. We will continue our efforts with the aim of eliminating the imbalance of information and realizing an organization operated by the members themselves.
Shinichi Mima
Japan: 1
USA:  1
UK: 2
France: 1
Belgium: 1
Japan is one of the countries where cooperatives and mutual aid projects have been successful. The reason is, in my view, that people in the country have worked in cooperative manners throughout the various times of history from the Medieval Period to the present, according to the local customs, culture and tradition. Currently we have many issues to overcome, such as the decline in risk control resources due to the youth keeping themselves away from mutual aid or insurance; the aging of society and the growing gap between rich and poor. The key for continuous development of our business in future, I believe, is to face up to these issues, to be rooted in the communities and to continue fulfilling our social responsibility.
Anne Mette Toftegaard
LB Group
Japan: 2
USA:  1
UK: 1
Canada:  1
Belgium: 1
New Zealand: 1
In Denmark, every citizen is subscribing to an insurance, and everyone has access to insurance. In the countries with advanced insurance systems, it is important on one hand, to undertake differentiation of our products and services from those of other companies, and to improve efficiency including cost reduction. But on the other hand, apart from the trend of introducing new technologies, an emphasis must be placed on the communication with members. It is necessary to ensure that the members can feel relieved and assured through face-to-face communication services.


4. Conclusion

It is a common impression of the participants that they could realize through the Programme that the idea of cooperatives and mutual aid insurance organizations to “Provide relief and satisfaction to the members” is universal, even if the respective environments in which they work, such as the country, economic environment, natural environment, culture, ethnic group, religion etc., are greatly different.

In addition, the environment surrounding the world itself is changing at a tremendous speed, and we are also being pressed, troubled and struggling daily to deal with such changes. By participating in the Biennial Conference this time, we were encouraged by the fact that our friends who have similar troubles are in various parts of the world. More than anything else, sharing our current situation with them, who are struggling in the same way as ours, provided us with courage to carry on.

It is also a common feeling among us that we would like to meet them “with confidence” if we have opportunities to meet our friends again in future. Without forgetting the gratitude for the fortune of having an opportunity and encounter like this, we would like to continue developing our skills and abilities, and prepare for the reunion with our friends.

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