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Mat Jensen talks about using leadership opportunities to inspire others

16 November 2018

Suncorp New Zealand’s Mat Jensen is a finalist for the ANZIIF Young Insurance Professional of the Year Award, and one of Suncorp’s youngest executive managers. Here he talks about his career journey at Suncorp.

Tell us about the role you’re in now?

I am the Executive Manager of Technical Pricing & Reinsurance for Suncorp New Zealand. I actually started my career as a Pricing Analyst years ago, so in many ways it seems surreal that I’m in this leadership role now! 

I work closely with Suncorp New Zealand’s Insurance Solutions team, and one of the things I really value about my role is being able to see the positive impact that our services have had in helping people going through tough times - it’s incredibly inspiring. 

How has your role changed since you’ve been at Suncorp? 

I started with Vero many years ago as Manager of Valuation and then took a secondment as the Manager of External and Management Reporting. In 2016 Suncorp brought together its life and general insurance businesses as Suncorp New Zealand, and I was appointed as the Manager of Capital for both Vero and Asteron Life. Last year I was promoted to the role of Executive Manager of Technical Pricing, and this year my role has been expanded to include reinsurance.

What development/training did you need or receive to support you into a new role/career path? 

My development focus over the past year has been on further enhancing my leadership capabilities through a formal six-month development programme that Suncorp runs in conjunction with Maximus Australia. One of the great things about being at Suncorp is that it provides access to all sorts of learning opportunities, and the training I’ve done has been an invaluable resource, enabling me to grow my knowledge and leadership skills.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your role? 

One of the most critical challenges the insurance industry is seeing is a tangible increase in insurable events, and recently New Zealand has also had its share of natural disasters. My team has a big role to play in enabling Suncorp to continue to provide support to New Zealanders when disasters or major events happen.

In my role as Executive Manager Technical Pricing & Reinsurance, I have led an ambitious project to improve the Natural Peril models available at Suncorp New Zealand. These models give us a better understanding of the risks of earthquakes, storms, flood and coastal inundation. This was a collaboration between several teams within Suncorp, and external providers of data and services. This has given the business greater clarity about the risks we are faced with, and enables us to develop products for the long term.

In future, I see the major challenge we face as an industry is how we can ensure that our industry is sustainable into the future and affordable for the customer. It is so important that our products continue to develop to better meet customer needs. 

I think Suncorp also has a big role to play in ensuring that communities become more resilient, and I’m an advocate of our industry taking time to better understanding future changes to our climate. 

Although it’s not really part of my remit, Suncorp has a lot of flexibility on what its people can pick up so I’m working closely with other teams in the business to understand what we can do to help our communities prepare for the potential impacts of climate change. Prevention is the best cure and I’m really enjoying being part of a team that is working on how mitigations can help reduce the cost on our customers. 

What advice would you give to aspiring young leaders?

My advice to aspiring leaders would be to set some goals for yourself and don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Development planning may seem like a chore, but make it work for you. If things don’t work out, then that provides a good learning opportunity to improve for next time. 

One of the good things about working at Suncorp is that it is very supportive of promoting and developing people internally, so I encourage Suncorp employees to have the conversation with their leader!

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