← Return to Young Professionals
Senior Leader Insights - Bronek Masojada
When addressing the young professionals at the LMA annual Senior Leader Insights event, Masojada expressed how much chance and luck had both played a part in his career.
Masojada began his career as a civil engineer, spent two years in the South African Army and after receiving an scholarship, moved to the UK to attend the University of Oxford. His father was invited to visit Lloyd’s and he decided to go along too. This visit inspired his thesis investigating the participation of Lloyd’s as an investment.
After finishing his scholarship at the University of Oxford, Masojada joined McKinsey and Co. There he was asked where he would like to work throughout his career, expressing an interest in London and New York, with the possibly to later visit Australia. McKinsey offered Australia as the first option so he and his wife left South Africa and started a new life in Australia. Masojada was later offered a contract consulting for Lloyd’s on behalf of McKinsey, expecting this to be a short-term contract, he moved country again.
It’s amazing to imagine how lucky, lucky coincidence can influence your career in a way that is completely unexpected. That this contract would see the start of an insurance career and the start of his journey to become the CEO of Hiscox.
What if Masojada has never accepted that invitation to Lloyd’s? What if he hadn’t chosen to work for McKinsey? What if Lloyd’s had hired a different consultancy firm?
With McKinsey returning to Lloyd’s in 1993 to lead a strategy project, Masojada worked with Robert Hiscox who asked him to take a risk and commit two years to Hiscox to help build the business. 23 years later, Masojada is still with the same employer.
“The choice of my wife and I to always take the riskier, more interesting path was clearly the right one. Standing here 23 years later, I have no regrets in choosing to leave Australia and come to London.”
At some stage in your career you will need to lead a team. When it is a small team, it can be quite informal but when that team becomes larger, you have to change the way that you work. You have to learn now to manage and how to lead.
Masojada explained that having been given the opportunity to lead more than 1,500 people, he has fundamentally had to change the way in which he works with both people and power.
The senior teams at Hiscox have had to re-educate themselves as a result of the digital evolution. The world that we have grown up in is a world apart from how they started their careers and it has been essential that they retrain and learn new ways to lead.
Masojada reminded the audience of the importance of learning and development by asking “how many of you have a conscious plan for learning to learn and continue that learning throughout your career? And one not from your organisation?” You need to continue investing in your education in order to invest in your career. Eventually your career will run out if you aren’t reinvesting in yourself.
The next piece of advice from Masojada is to create a career path. Do you want to have a career that is deep or wide? Do you want to be a builder or a climber? Now is the time to decide where you want your career to go.
There is nothing wrong in being an expert and focusing on one area but if you want to be a leader then you need to give up the idea of being an expert and focus on breadth. You will have to accept being less informed across more areas and finding support from your team where you cannot be an expert. But you have to make this decision, and it is a personal one.
Now, decide if you want to be a climber and continually climb the ladder of success or whether you want to build that success and build the organisation. Joining Hiscox, Masojada moved from being a climber to becoming a builder and worked with his colleagues to build the business we see today. After all, building is never a one person effort.
At Hiscox, everyone is encouraged to be a builder because the way to build a business successfully is collectively.
Take risks whilst you are still young; Masojada took risks and said he has no regrets. He admitted that life would have been completely different if he didn’t take the risk and move to London. Playing it safe is not the best option and will not allow you to reach your full potential. Take the risk, the downside - you could start back from where you left off, but if you succeed, the opportunities are infinite.
You have a personal brand and you need to think about what that is now and what it will look like in the future. But your brand has to be true. It must reflect who you are and what it is that you actually do. Again, are you a builder or a climber? Do you want to be narrow with expertise or broaden yourself? It's all part of your brand.
Remember your manners. Always be courteous to others. Being polite isn’t the same as being a pushover but sometimes you have to remind people of this and that’s OK. Ultimately people remember, they will remember that you were polite and eager to listen.
Don’t try to be an expert at everything. Be prepared to admit that you are wrong- no one expects you to know all of the answers but being willing to admit you need help or have made a mistake speaks volumes.
In line with the London Market Group’s branding workstream, Masojada highlighted the importance of telling the London Market story and how we need to promote our brand outside of the UK. It’s important that we understand why London should win, not just our individual companies and why we should encourage customers to choose London.
As young professionals, we are responsible for helping our companies to become digital friendly and more efficient. The market is changing but is it fast enough?