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Leadership: Inspired by Genius, Achiever & Thinker

Pankaj Gupta joined Pramerica Life Insurance as MD & CEO in February 2023. We find his focus objectives and explore his leadership background:

Leadership: Inspired by Genius, Achiever & Thinker

Heartiest congratulations on your rise and becoming MD & CEO at Pramerica Life. What are the top 3 areas where you will personally focus upon?

Pramerica Life Insurance is on the right track and has started a confident and buoyant journey towards long-term growth. It emerged from a few years of change to end FY23 on a strong note. Our ongoing partner focus and customer centricity are paying off. We more than doubled our new business volumes over the previous year, while also improving quality-of-business parameters.

Our objective over the next 5 years is to become a sustainable enterprise that solves for unmet customer needs across Mortality, Morbidity, and Longevity, and contributes towards IRDAI’s mission of Insurance for All by 2047.

Our strong solvency position, support from the shareholders, and opportunities created by the reforms ushered in by IRDAI, coupled with the compelling prospects of the Life Insurance industry in the country, give me the confidence that we can traverse this path even in an industry as competitive as ours.

My primary focus over the next few years will be on the following:

(i) Accelerated business growth, while simultaneously creating deeper organizational capabilities.

(ii) Repositioning the business model so that it is sustainable and value accretive. This will mean that our growth comes on the back of a balanced product and distribution mix.

(iii) Building multiple retail lines of business with strong value propositions for customers and distributors.

(iv) Deepening our talent base by enabling and empowering existing talent to maximise their potential and grow with the organization, while also looking selectively at outside talent.

(v) Shaping our organizational culture to create a workplace that gives my team a sense of purpose, meaning and pride.

(vi) Keep digitizing our processes for superior customer experience and distribution enablement.

(vii) Continue to grow lines of business that reach under-penetrated segments and geographies.

(viii) Strengthen our brand across stakeholders like customers, distributors, employees and the external ecosystem.

As a leader, what business milestones would you like to achieve in the next 12 months?

(i) We are targeting a 1.5-2X growth in new business premium for the 2nd year in a row. (ii) We will be working towards improving our employee retention metrics. (iii) We will take steps towards institutionalizing a high-performance culture that enables the organization to sustain a high pace of execution and innovation.

Name 3 areas in which you confidently consider yourself as an expert. How did you gain that expertise?

(i) Retail Financial Services – I have spent 27 years in this area, across roles, functions, companies, and geographies. I find this field exciting and rewarding and my keen interest in the field has enabled me to develop expertise over a long period of time.

(ii) Start-up and turnaround situations – I have worked in start-up and turnaround situations in various ways, within larger organizations as well as in smaller ones. My first principles approach, tactical flexibility, persistence, and consistency in mind-set coupled with my ability to engage meaningfully with diverse stakeholders has helped me in developing this expertise.

(iii) Well-being – I have had a lifelong interest in living a balanced life, across physical, intellectual, and emotional dimensions. I have my own heuristics on many of these areas that I try and practice. This helps me sustain a high-pressure and demanding lifestyle.

What 3 areas would you be looking to develop yourself in the years ahead?

(i) Connecting with people more deeply

(ii) Giving back to society

(iii) Creating a legacy.

Name some of the business / non-business leaders and leadership gurus who you really admire.

(i) Elon Musk, for the sheer genius and audacity of his achievements. (ii) Nandan Nilekani, for what he has achieved for our country with Aadhar. (iii) Peter Drucker, for the fundamental clarity and brevity of his thoughts, and for work that I find fascinating and timeless.

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