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Integrity will drive the industry forward

02 November 2017Jonathan Faurie

After spending ten years at the helm of the country’s second biggest insurer, long-standing Hollard CEO Nic Kohler has recently stepped down from the role.

FAnews caught up with Kohler to discuss his time at Hollard and his plans for the future.

Baptism of fire

Kohler took over as CEO as the world was experiencing the effects of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the worst economic crisis the world has seen since the Great Depression. It was a time where companies were trying to find their feet in a tough economic climate; it was time to steady the ship.

“The GFC was a baptism of fire, but we knew the value of the company and what it could become. Since then, the company has grown to become the country’s second largest insurer and has almost tripled its size in volume and in depth of technical expertise,” said Kohler.

To grow during the GFC is something very few companies can say that they achieved. And the company didn’t stop there; some of Kohler’s crowning moments at Hollard include the acquisitions of Etana and Regent, and the company’s expansion of its African footprint.

Caring culture

Above all, Kohler believed that the company needed to stay true to the values instilled in Hollard by the Enthoven family; that it needed to remain a company that has a social responsibility as much as it has a responsibility to remain profitable.

“The Enthoven family gave Hollard a clear blueprint of what they wanted the company to become. They wanted Hollard to be an insurer which had both a head and a heart and this resonated strongly with me. What I wanted to achieve during my time as CEO was to institutionalise this by putting in systems and processes to make sure that everything the company did reflected this dual approach,” said Kohler.

Kohler added that in a way, Hollard’s approach was merely an amplification of the nature of the insurance industry, which is in itself a force for social good.

"By providing products that enable businesses to take the risks that are necessary for progress to be made, and that protect people and help them achieve their dreams, the insurance industry has a vital role to play in society,” said Kohler.

New challenges… well, almost

Kohler has now taken up a position at Yellowwoods Investments to formalise their insurance strategy.

“It is something completely different to what I have been doing for the past 20 years, so it is an exciting challenge. I am looking forward to it and I will throw myself into it,” said Kohler.

Kohler’s position at Hollard has been taken over by Saks Ntombela, who is also a stalwart of the company having served on the executive committee for a period before taking over the reins.

“If I could give Ntombela one piece of advice, it would be to hold true to the values of the company and remember that it is the people who make businesses happen, and in Hollard’s case, who give us our competitive edge. He has embraced this view and I think that the future of Hollard is bright under his leadership,” concluded Kohler. 

Editor’s Thoughts:
Building an insurer of integrity takes time and strong leadership. Under Kohler’s guidance, the company tripled in size to become the country’s second biggest insurer. Ntombela now faces his own challenge of maintaining this growth in a tough economic climate; however, if the company holds true to its values, it will achieve this goal.  Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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