KEBE Business Leader Awards
Gold Interview: Costas Costa, General Manager, General Insurance of Cyprus
Why does your company support the KEBE Business Leader Awards?
For seven years now, the KEBE Business Leader Awards have created a great sense of community in our sector, based on the values of excellence, innovation, credibility, and trust.
At the General Insurance of Cyprus, we relate and adopt these values, as they have guided us for 70 years, in which we have had a leading role in the development of the insurance industry.
As the platinum sponsor, we are pleased to actively contribute to the recognition and upgrade of Cyprus’ business community.
Why is it important to recognize and reward distinguished personalities in the local business world?
Such initiatives create positive standards, cultivate the best practices, and develop incentives in others for healthy competition.
Every success is collective, therefore we recognise the substantial contribution of the labour force, and we work hard to make them proud of the work their company is doing.
What, in your view, are the key skills and qualities that a successful business leader needs?
Successful business leaders in the changing world need to be able to adapt to an ever-evolving business environment, especially as a digital revolution is ongoing. A leader needs to be able to guide his team in these uncharted waters, so a business, which may have been around for many years, can continue to grow and meet the needs of all its clientele, while at the same time adapting to new technologies. Successful business leaders also must be able to drive their company’s goals forward, in an effort to broaden its clientele base and grow their company.
The new era has many challenges business leaders are called to deal with, necessitating them to be constantly ready to modify or reform their strategy.
How do you view the current local business scene? In your opinion, what measures should be taken in order to overcome challenges that have arisen lately?
The local insurance business scene is facing challenges, including European directives, the digital era, and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, which will shape operations and the also help to modernise the industry.
The new business scene, which is global, is a constant test and reminder to businesses to be resilient and ready for a daily battle, which our employees and staff must win day by day. During the coronavirus pandemic, our business methods changed, and we took some successful measures at the company to help bring us forward into the modern times, and to deal with the health crisis.
In a short period of time, we were able to deal with the challenges by finding quick, easy, and secure solutions for our clients.
In the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus, we introduced spatial changes at our offices and alternating workdays for our employees. We also introduced remote work, and we made many of our meetings online through video-calls or teleconference, to appropriately serve our clients.
The pandemic has pushed us to boost alternative service methods, which have been around for many years, including the operation of our call centre and website, which saw great increases in activity.
We have given emphasis to the services that make us even more competitive in the Cypriot market. We have simplified our operating model and further invested in the digitisation of our core processes. Thus, our customers will gain more immediacy and have multiple options to better meet their needs.
How do you expect the Cyprus economy to develop in the near future?
The Cyprus economy has had a significant recovery in the period in 2015-19 growing at an average rate of 4.4% a year. In 2019, according to the statistics of the Association of Insurance Companies of Cyprus (IAC), the sector shows an increase of 4.7% in total premiums from January to September 2019, compared to the corresponding period last year. This increase exceeds the GDP growth rate for the same period (+ 3.0%), which proves the strength of the sector.
The Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to the recovery and plunged the economy into a deep recession with real GDP expected to drop by about 5.5%, according to the Ministry of Finance.
There are challenges, and we will have to rise up to meet them. It is not just Covid, which will continue to be a problem in 2021.It is a health matter foremost, but it also causes economic disruption when lockdowns and social distancing are imposed as necessary to contain the virus.
What are the trends of the future?
The global economy and ours with it, is undergoing significant structural change. This structural change has to do with the transition to a digital economy and to a greener economy with all it entails. Our focus, therefore, will need to be, to effectively manage the structural change and economic transition that will be happening. This will require us to undertake the right investments in a timely fashion, and implement the needed reforms, utilizing Europe’s recovery grants and loans prudently and productively.