Juan Beer

Juan Beer has been CEO of Zurich Switzerland since February 2018. He joined Zurich in 1987 as an apprentice and since then has held local and global positions in the Zurich Group in underwriting, sales and relationship management as well as market and customer segment leadership. In his last role as Global Head of Group Reinsurance, he successfully realigned the Group’s reinsurance strategies, contributing to the sustainability of Zurich’s capital base and profitability. Juan Beer holds a commerce and insurance degree from Zurich Business School and completed an Advanced Management Program at IESE Business School in 2013.

«We involve employees in a targeted way in shaping our working world of the future»

What trends do you see, how has corporate governance evolved?
Corporate management has become much more demanding due to the transition from shareholder to more complex stakeholder value management. Shareholders’ expectations are joined by those of customers, employees, society and the environment. In addition, there are new realities such as ESG, the correct and trustworthy handling of data, geopolitical uncertainty or the increasing demands on business continuity management due to increasing digitalisation. All this requires more holistic strategic clarity and an increased focus on corporate culture, because uniting employees behind a clear purpose cannot be left to chance.

Automation, digitalisation and Workplace of the Future are shaping the way we work today. How are you responding to these trends?
We see these trends primarily as an opportunity. Today, our customers can expect freedom of choice. For simpler things, many prefer a digital self-service offer. At the same time, they expect personal advice and support in more complex life or risk situations. This is exactly what we want to offer them, which is why we as Zurich need the right future-oriented skills. That’s why we not only provide our employees with the appropriate training, but also involve them in a targeted way in shaping our working world of the future.

How do you ensure that technologization/digitalization does not remain an expert topic, but is anchored in the company’s value creation?
Technologisation and digitalisation have led to customers and business partners making new demands on us in terms of what, how, when and where. As a result, these skills are indispensable. Even if they are not my strategy, they are central to its implementation. The focus is on customer excellence, and this has two parts: on the one hand, our own attitude and, on the other hand, the support provided by technology and digital skills. Our entire IT project portfolio is aligned and calibrated accordingly.

In the course of demographic development, more managers will soon retire than will succeed them. How do you deal with the impending staff shortage in your company?
Just like “Workplace of the Future”, “Workforce of the Future” also enjoys a strong focus in our management. The aforementioned governance challenges require investment in our talent of the future. This includes technical as well as management and leadership skills. On the one hand, we focus on the transfer of knowledge and have a variety of offers, such as the possibility of an arch career. On the other hand, we continuously invest in specific training and development programmes. Good examples of this are our Fit for Future leadership programmes for our top 100 managers or our #NextGen programme, which we also use to build up a balanced gender mix at an early stage, and other young professional entry opportunities, also in the ICT sector, for example.

What should business, politics and society do to strengthen the compatibility of work and family in Switzerland?
They should work together as well as possible to achieve a broad impact. At Zurich, work-life balance is not a “voluntary extra” for our employees. We make sure that we give our employees the flexibility they need to balance work and family life. Career opportunities, including part-time positions, flexible and hybrid working, job sharing, sabbaticals and one of the most progressive parental leave models in Switzerland are key contributions to equal opportunities and prerequisites for ensuring that the most talented people in our country want to work for Zurich and can develop with us, regardless of their life situation.

What messages do you have for your top talents in terms of their career planning? How do you convey these messages in everyday life?
I personally spend a lot of time with our talents, be it in development programmes, in CEO dialogues or via coaching and mentoring activities. In my interactions with them, I require an active engagement with the individual profile. A solid career requires a focused investment in technical depth and in one’s own personality. Other key elements are business acumen, strategic understanding, networking and communication. Ambition alone is not enough. It takes planning, energy, bite, consistency, precision, flexibility and patience.