Fuelling Business Growth Through Coaching and Mentoring – the Swiss Re Approach

Andrew Rutsch

Andrew Rutsch is engaged in research and advisory on how enterprises and ventures become value creation champions. He received his Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, US, at the intersection of economic and neuro sciences. He is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

The long-lasting financial crisis challenges the business case for corporate learning. Andrew Rutsch suggests that re-insurance group Swiss Re’s business-focused emphasis on coaching and mentoring may be one way forward.

Swiss Re, the Zurich-based global re-insurance firm has achieved an impressive turnaround since the financial crisis, moving from a loss of $663 million in 2008 to a net income of $4.2 billion in 2012.

Yet, the environment continues to be difficult: low interest rates, a changing regulatory landscape and fragile markets – particularly in Europe – yet with quite robust growth in emerging markets. If you were Michel Liès, Swiss Re’s CEO, what would you do to accelerate profitable growth?

The recent EFMD CLIP (Corporate Learning Improvement Process) Sharing Best Practice Workshop hosted by Swiss Re in Munich, Germany, on 15 March 2013 showcased how the firm leverages coaching and mentoring as motors to fuel the firm’s development.

Succeeding in high-growth markets requires skilled and engaged talent

One key thrust in Swiss Re’s strategy is high-growth markets. In South Korea it has worked with Cigna/ LINA to develop insurance that covers the cost of cancer treatment for people over the age of 60. In China it is teaming up with local insurers to deliver insurance that covers similar risks for people of all ages – a first in the market. In Vietnam and Mexico it is working with governments to protect livelihoods and prosperity.

By 2015 Swiss Re aims to generate 20% to 25% of its revenues from high-growth markets. This requires talented people with the right skills and languages as well as agility and a passion to perform.

The learning tool box: strengthening continuous learning through different means

In response, Swiss Re’s leadership in collaboration with Swiss Re Academy, the company’s corporate learning function, has embraced the “70-20-10 learning and development model” to support the targeted business growth. In this, 70% is geared towards learning on the job through, for example, rotations and stretch assignments; 20% is focused on learning from others such as coaching and mentoring; 10% is invested in formal training measures such as seminars and e-learning.

In other words, Swiss Re leverages a range of means to strengthen continuous learning in order to enhance the development of individuals and the enterprise generally.

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