Manasije Mishra, chief executive officer, Max Bupa Health Insurance, who joined the company about a year ago, is passionate about his work. In an interview with HT, he says his philosophy is simple: First, to have the best health products in India in terms of design and features; second, offer best in class personalised customer service benchmarked against international practices; and third, reach out to people wherever they are through all possible distribution channels like agency force, telesales, online or directly. Excerpts:
As the captain of the ship, how do you manage your team, especially when the economy is slowing down?
Regular and transparent communication are key to maintaining positive sentiments among employees, both during turbulent times and during periods of high growth.
At Max Bupa, the entire executive leadership team spends one day every month in the field to gather feedback from employees, agents and other partners.
I also make it a point to meet employees personally through one-on-one coffee sessions to understand their issues and address their concerns.
As a leader, what are the challenges you face?
The key challenge in such a high growth environment is to drive the team to build and sustain long-term health partnerships with customers and deliver quality service at all times.
Hiring the right talent, investment in skill development and talent retention initiatives have become important. The life insurance sector is seeing a number of regulatory changes on the products and distribution front and the industry is currently assessing the impact of the evolving environment.
The general insurance sector is stable and continues to grow. However, the health insurance sector in India, which is still evolving, has managed to buck the trend and emerged as one of the fastest growing segments in the sector with CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 28%.
The regulator, government and industry have played a pivotal role in propelling growth of the segment and I foresee a sustained momentum in this growth story. At Max Bupa, the past three years has been good for the business. We have stretched our boundaries and raised the bar for what we can achieve. There has been a significant ramp-up in our business in all areas, ranging from customer base, products, distribution to provider network.
The leader plays a critical role in the hiring process. What do you keep in mind while recruiting your key team members?
A workforce comprising self driven and passionate go-getters with a strong focus on customer centricity is critical for success. I would always recruit people with these attributes rather than technical skills. I believe that true success is achieved when each and every team member is aligned with the organisation’s values and mission.
Our mission to help people live healthier and more successful lives is part of everything we do. As a part of Max Group, we follow the philosophy of ‘Seva Bhaav’, which means selfless service with humility. We are constantly seeking individuals who demonstrate these qualities.
What is your mantra as a leader?
Be transparent, inclusive, lead by example and be a team player. Employees need to be empowered to innovate and take decisions to grow the business. I encourage my direct team members by giving them the space to grow. Max Bupa leaders grow, help others grow, grow business and improve the health of India.
You have been in banking for several years after which you joined the insurance industry? How smooth was the shift?
It has been a year since I joined Max Bupa as the chief executive. The transition to the insurance industry from banking has been smooth and the experience has been stimulating. I am delighted to be a part of this industry.
As a leader, you would have had to take several decisions that may not have been palatable for your employees, how do you handle such situations?
I believe leadership is a fine balance of people and organisational responsibilities. As a leader, one has to often make difficult decisions. They key lies in balancing emotion with reason and in making decisions that will have a positive impact on the customers and the business.
How do you motivate your employees?
At Max Bupa, we follow a culture on celebrating each success, be it small or big. We also encourage high performers through a reward and recognition scheme, employee appreciation in monthly and quarterly town hall meetings and most importantly, by extending a sense of belonging and empowerment to take business decisions. There are also team-bonding sessions.