Team work key to executing successful shift in business focus

By Georgi Georgiev

 

Matjaz Rakovec

Matjaz Rakovec, President of the Management Board, Zavarovalnica Triglav

Steering into a new direction a business organisation with over 5,100 staff strewn across 31 subsidiaries in eight Southeast European countries requires a well-coordinated team effort, steady leadership and a high level of employee engagement.

So when Matjaz Rakovec, the president of Slovenian insurer Triglav’s management board, was given the task to shift the company’s strategic focus away from revenues and market shares and onto a development model based on profitability and safe business operations, he made sure that he had surrounded himself with reliable co-workers and that there was clear division of work and responsibilities.

“The change was significant and some effort and time was needed in order to incorporate this strategic shift into the corporate culture and to motivate our employees,” Rakovec told SeeNews.

A graduate of the University of Ljubljana’s economics faculty, he has over fifteen years of professional experience in the insurance industry. Rakovec began his career at Triglav in 1994. In 2005, he transferred to a management position at another local company before rejoining the Triglav team a year later as the head of its Ljubljana regional office.

The Triglav executive is especially proud of the management talent that he managed to pool after taking the helm of the 400 million euro market cap company in 2009. “We quickly changed the manner in which we operate, most importantly by changing the focus to our core business – insurance. This change resulted in the profitability of the core business, which was a great success and confirmed that we are on the right track.”

Rakovec, 47, is a firm believer in change as an engine of progress but sees the sudden shifts in the conditions and trends on the insurance market as providing a stern test for his executive leadership going forward. “Our main challenge in the future will be finding and providing timely and successful responses to these changes.”

As an insurance and financial services business, Triglav is a typically conservative organisation but the top executive is confident this plays to its strengths and has proven to be a sound bet in terms of investment.

The economic crisis had an impact on Triglav’s operations, causing events and opportunities that required a new approach to how the company is run. “This was a challenge for all of us on the managing board. But we have successfully changed the focus of our business philosophy from maintaining our market share at any cost to profitability and safety of business operations. We want to consolidate the group and help all our companies achieve profitability by the end of 2013.”

Rakovec, whose interests away from the office include running Slovenia’s ice hockey association as well as dabbling in international water polo match refereeing, feels very strongly about following high ethical principles in his work and said this was something he would not make a compromise with.

“My colleagues and I share this view point and have therefore set firm ethical guidelines in our day-to-day business operations, first and foremost by adopting a Code of Good Business Practice.”

The move enhanced Triglav’s responsibility towards both insured parties as well as its business partners. This code, which is binding for all employees of the company, lays down ethical standards for any type of conduct, business decision and contact.

In addition, Triglav is a signatory to the Declaration on Fair Business, an initiative of the Slovenian chapter of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The UNGC is the world’s largest global corporate responsibility and sustainability initiative that currently connects close to 5,000 companies and NGOs from 120 countries that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

“I am very proud to say that we were one of the first companies to sign the declaration in Slovenia and that we take this extremely seriously. We are ready to show that we are conducting transparent and fair business,” Rakovec said.

The company’s goal of building a safer future for its business has led it to enter into a responsible dialogue with stakeholders in the broader social environment in which it operates. “We strive to recognise the needs of this environment and to offer an appropriate response through responsible long-term partnerships.”