From the Brno branch to the head of the team that takes care of the insurance of multinational clients around the world in less than seven years. Michal Holzer, the Global Services Director at RENOMIA, is a good example of the fact that if you have the talent and can succeed, your possibilities in this company are virtually limitless. Michal is a person who believes in the power of self-reflection, does not like routine procedures if they are no longer functional, is open to new things and is looking to work with people who want to develop further. He is not afraid to say that insurance is a sexy industry that will get you closer to almost every human field.
What does it mean to be the Global Services Director at RENOMIA?
For several reasons, it is particularly important for us to be in touch with the whole world. We have many international partners and take care of the insurance programs of many large companies. Some of them are Czech companies that need help with insurance abroad, such as insuring an office building or a factory that they bought somewhere in the world. Therefore, to find the best solutions, we often travel abroad with our clients and we also use established partnerships with the most experienced brokers in the given country. In addition, we have many foreign clients who have come to do business in the Czech Republic, for example from Germany or United States, and our foreign partners have asked us to take care of their insurance here. These international programs are often followed by instructions from abroad, but at the same time they must meet the condition that this is the best solution available with us. My role, together with the international team, is to secure all these activities and take good care of clients and partners.
How did you find yourself in this position? You have been at RENOMIA for quite some time, haven’t you?
It has been almost seven years, and the change has been gradual. I started in the Brno branch, where I was in charge of looking for business opportunities, obtaining new clients and building a good reputation for RENOMIA in the region. RENOMIA, meanwhile, has grown and developed across Central and Eastern Europe, and in the last five years alone we have doubled in many respects, and naturally many career opportunities have arisen. About four years ago, I was fully involved in the coordination of business activities in the CEE region, which allowed me to get to know many of our international clients, partners, and colleagues from foreign companies. It was a beautiful opportunity and an incredible experience at the same time. After another two years or so, the opportunity arose to manage the international department, which provides for the management of international clients, communication with foreign partners and is one of the key departments at RENOMIA. It was a professional challenge you cannot refuse.
Do foreign markets, on the other hand, have any fundamental specifics?
We communicate with many cultures daily, and we must keep in mind that each of them has slightly different habits and may emphasize something different. For example, the Germans and the Swiss have a reputation for being very precise nations, while in Eastern cultures, patience is key in building mutual relations. Of course, we Czechs also have our specifics. And in our international department, these worlds collide, and we try to ensure that the client always gets the best. We are such a concierge in the world of insurance.
Does the fact that you move between different cultures require any special skills and talents? And is this something you are looking for in the people on your team?
The foundation of any business, whether international or local, is mutual trust. No one wants to trade voluntarily with someone who is unsympathetic to them and who they do not trust. In order for a business to function in the long run, you must constantly do a great job and provide quality service, demonstrably deliver what you promise, be transparent, value the relationship and invest in it. Treat foreign clients and partners with humility, but at the same time have a healthy amount of self-confidence. And you must enjoy it to make people feel it’s real. We therefore try to find colleagues who meet this criteria, who like to communicate, realize how important their role is for the client and the foreign partner, and do not want a job in which they could hide behind a dysfunctional routine.
The tendency to come and do a job in a routine way is a problem often attributed to corporations. Although RENOMIA is one of these companies in terms of its size and international reach, it is still a family business. Do you perceive the difference in culture?
One hundred percent. My boss and one of our shareholders are sitting a few meters from me, we see each other almost daily. We have a direct organizational structure, and because most of RENOMIA is family-owned, our work and communication resonate with values that are closer to a family than a corporation. For example, no one can refer to the decision of a person who they have never seen, or to a process that works in Asia, but its application in Europe is dysfunctional, as is sometimes the case in corporations. At the same time, however, our size and economic background allow us to invest in developing talent and technology and to use and locate the vast know-how of another of our shareholders, the American company Arthur J. Gallagher. It is number four in her field in the world and pays great attention to similar family values like RENOMIA. Like RENOMIA, it is still run by the family that founded it.
Do you feel the ongoing digital transformation of the company in your work?
I perceive it as especially important, because it can help us, among other things, with some actions that are required by things like legislation. Thanks to this, we will have more time to devote to our business partners, clients, and colleagues, and at the same time we will be sure that we have properly fulfilled all our obligations.
You described how you achieved your current position because an opportunity arose. Do you see that it’s possible to move within the company and that when talent appears somewhere, you or someone else will pull it towards you and develop it?
Definitely yes. It is just a matter of being visible and known about. They must be handy, there must have achieved some visible results and development, and then I think they have unlimited possibilities.
You are said to believe that unpleasant things help a person move forward. How do you practice this?
I am not sure if I would call them unpleasant. Although I don’t like the clichés about the comfort zone, I would call them rather uncomfortable. I believe that doing something extra helps move a person forward. But hand in hand with this is the need to have self-reflection and to be open to feedback. Because it is also important to know if what I am doing extra makes sense and that I’m on the right track. So, I am trying to combine both.
What is the easiest and most difficult thing you are doing now?
I have always enjoyed building relationships and communicating with clients and partners. I am happy when we get a new client, I enjoy it and I find it natural, that is why it is maybe the easiest for me. On the other hand, it bothers me, and not only at work, when I meet people who do not want to think, condemn all solutions in advance and blame failures on someone else.
Which of your business cases do you like to remember?
This work brings interesting cases every day. One day you may be approached by a client who needs to insure, for example, an oil rig, and the next day the company’s risks related to its listing on the stock exchange. The insurance business affects almost all human fields, and it seems beautiful and fascinating to me at the same time.