A Household Name: Sharad Mathur
Managing Director and CEO Sharad Mathur dived headfirst into organisational change with one goal in mind: to make Universal Sompo General Insurance a household name in India.
Managing change is tough, but when Sharad Mathur joined Universal Sompo General Insurance in June 2020, he came with a vision to transform it and executed this daunting task with gusto. "I wanted to change its mission and broaden its visibility," he says.
"If I had to bring a transformational change and move towards complete digitalisation and automation of all our customer serving processes, I required a blend of domestic and global experience to uphold my vision and bring change. It isn’t easy shifting mindsets or going to new locations, but our team was ready for the challenge."
Sharad searched for management with a new way of thinking to outwork the job. He wanted people with international expertise. The new CTO, for example, used to work in the US and the UK before she moved to India.
The company’s Head of Operations worked at an American life insurance company in Malaysia for three years. Once Sharad had his team in place, the company moved its office to a better location at a lesser expense, which he feels is building up the company morale.
"Everyone is satisfied with the decision – the employees, shareholders and our CFO," he reveals. "It’s a bigger and more beautiful office, and I think everyone feels happy here." The transition doesn’t end there: Sharad and his team introduced new "bite-sized" products as a long-term strategy to bring full digitalisation.
"Digitalisation is not just about internally using systems, but also our intermediary brokers or bank insurers," he explains. "We developed an app, called USGI PULZ, for existing policyholders to buy additional policies or renew insurance policies."
Anyone can download the app, not just policyholders in India. It has ecosystem services, value-added services like artificial intelligence and risk assessment for others in the marketplace.
"Before this app, we introduced AI for our motor customers to initiate claims, reducing the time to make a claim," Sharad boasts. "These are just a few initial steps we took towards my greater transformation strategy."
Universal Sompo has recently won industry awards for its technology, mobile app and customer service. The company’s new Head – Operations & Customer Services compressed customer service processes, removed unnecessary steps and made it standard practice to keep customers informed on new policies.
He also implemented a welcome letter to new customers – a small gesture that makes a significant impact. "Our customers appreciate this and feel like our company values them and communicates with them," he says.
Communication and transparency are fundamental to Sharad’s vision. He introduced a weekly meeting with the heads of all departments, where each shares what they did the previous week and what they plan for the week ahead, which has created a domino effect to employees throughout the departments.
"This makes us all aware of what’s happening in the company," Sharad points out. "There must be transparency. If there is transparency, things will happen. If there is no transparency, nothing will happen, because there is a lack of trust. I tried to create transparency by asking all department heads to open up about what they are doing and what they plan to do."
It isn’t easy shifting mindsets or going to new locations, but our team was ready for the challenge.
Sharad wants Universal Sompo to be in the top five insurance companies and to become well-known across the country. "Each product will become a household brand name," he assures.
"I want everyone in India to know the brands of our various products. To know that motor safety, for example, means Universal Sompo. This is my single vision which helps me set all commercial objectives."
Sharad won’t rest until he achieves this goal – a personality trait that he says keeps his brain sharp. "Strategising, planning and quick execution have helped me achieve my success," he says.
"I’m always on a roll. I chase the goal with passion. If you don’t chase it rigorously, there are high chances that you’ll miss it. I’m always thinking of accomplishing my goal, even if there are several hurdles in the way. This is what keeps me going."
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