Clarity of vision

01 April 2008 FAnews

In April, after two years at the helm of Metropolitan Employee Benefits, Wilhelm van Zyl has taken up the reins as the new CEO of Metropolitan. FAnews spoke to Wilhelm to discover what the future holds for him and for Metropolitan.

From the beginning of April, Wilhelm moved into the hot seat as CEO of Metropolitan. "It was a great privilege to have been considered for the position and an even greater honour to have been ultimately appointed to fill it. I was elated at the prospect of taking over from Peter, albeit somewhat daunted by the extremely large shoes I was being expected to fill!"

But Wilhelm has faced and overcome many and varied challenges in his career in almost all areas of the life insurance and financial services industries, ideally positioning him to take up this new role.

These challenges ranged from highly technical work, including product design and development and immensely complex issues such as actuarial valuations, to matters as diverse as change management and the human and logistical complications arising from mergers and acquisitions.

"But," says Wilhelm, " the ultimate highlight of my career so far is certainly the position in which I am today – working together with the people of Metropolitan towards building a great future for all our stakeholders."

The future for Metropolitan

"The goals we set ourselves have many dimensions, ranging from the strictly financial through to the role we play in society, both in South Africa and in the rest of Africa. We have committed ourselves to extending and strengthening our brand to embrace more financial products and services, to expanding our reach further into Africa and to earning our client's trust and loyalty through quality service delivery.

"Initially I will focus on making sure that we tackle all key opportunities with the necessary purpose and passion, focus and drive. In the medium to longer term, we will need to be much more proactive and display the requisite degree of innovation in pre-empting changes before they actually happen."


"For me one thing is absolutely clear – without customers we would not have a business! To be successful, we must make certain that our value proposition is competitive, that we support genuine customer needs, that we do so at an equitable price and in a way that is easily understood, and that we service customer needs professionally, efficiently and cost effectively. Although the temptation to focus internally will be stronger than ever, we will have to resist it and concentrate all our energies on maintaining and strengthening customer relationships.

"I always try and ensure that everyone in the company shares a common understanding of the strategic framework within which we are working and is absolutely clear about what it is that we are trying to achieve. I like to involve as many people as possible in planning the tactical implementation of the strategy. I believe I am a very fair person, but I expect everyone to hold themselves accountable, to the group and to each other, for their individual actions as well as for the overall performance of the team."

Going into a new future, Wilhelm says, "there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Metropolitan team can take the group to new performance heights, and I'm greatly looking forward to putting our combined energy and enthusiasm, expertise and experience, to the test."

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