AS if required of every German, Dr. Olaf Kliesow learned to play football with passion, motivation and strategy. The game makes the toughest players on and off the pitch. If you master it, according to him, you can make everything happen to hit the goal.
As the chief executive officer and president of Allianz PNB Life, he is in-charge of a seventeen-year old company forged with a joint venture between Munich-based global insurance company Allianz and the life insurance subsidiary of the Philippine National Bank (PNB), one the country’s largest private local commercial banks in terms of assets and deposits.
A corporate lawyer, Dr. Kliesow spent majority of his 20-career in the finance consulting industry working in top management positions of companies from Germany to Japan and now, the Philippines.
Beyond kicking a football and crunching numbers, Business Mirror sat down with Dr. Kliesow to pick the wisdom of a seasoned corporate leader, whose goal through his company’s life and health insurance expertise, is to secure substantial financial gains for Filipinos and their families.
How is the partnership of Allianz and PNB?
WE have been together for a year now and the collaboration is working very well. We are happy with the direction we are taking with PNB.
What do you think of the Filipinos’ awareness and acceptance of insurance compared to other Asian countries?
THE drive of the business here is similar with other Asian countries, where the nations are very young with very big population. The awareness level about insurance is still low, so a lot of people are underinsured. That’s why we’re here to give Filipinos the choice and reduce the “protection gap” in every family here.
What do you mean when you say “protection gap”?
FAMILIES in the Philippines continue to face the threat of substantial financial hardship should the breadwinner pass away, which we refer to as the ‘protection gap. In the Philippines, this protection gap is estimated to be at Php24 trillion (USD480 billion) or Php1.17 million per household. This financial instability is worrisome, as it makes Filipino families vulnerable to life events such as critical illnesses. Allianz is also looking into expanding its portfolio to include more health and micro-insurance products to help Filipinos reduce the protection gap.
We learned that Allianz PNB Life has a strong corporate social responsibility project geared on sports, specifically football. How does it relate to what you are doing in the Philippines?
ALLIANZ is deeply involved and engaged in football. As a company, we have brand activities related to football all over the globe. We have the Allianz Junior Football Camp (AJFC) as our biggest youth development project that happens every year. Since there are a lot of companies worldwide that are participating, there are pre-selection camps. In the Philippines, we had a nationwide game that gathered 24 teams and we did a one-day pre-selection that was supported by the Philippine Football Federation. They selected the five (5) kids we sent to Bali. Right after, we sent two (2) of them to Munich. The kids trained with Bayern Munich coaches. They watched a Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. The whole week was everything about football and developing the kids.
Do you play football? What is your assessment of our young Filipino football players?
I have been a football player like probably every German boy. And I did that for many years. But never close to even anything professional, so just for fun. I enjoy playing and occasionally, I still play. I’ve seen them (Filipino players) play I’ve spent the entire day when we did the nationwide game in May. In the end, it is very similar, as all across the world, if you have young boys and girls running after the ball. They are very enthusiastic, they love it, they are very passionate, and they are having a lot of fun.
What makes football a good foundation for kids?
Football, like in other sports, is about technique and skills. But it should not be limited to that. I mean, in the end what really counts and what can make the difference, is the passion, the motivation, and the strategy that you have. And in the end, football is a team sport, you can’t achieve anything on your own. Just having one strong player will not bring you anywhere. So, it is really about motivating the team. You have to master the game and you can make anything happen.
Are the skills you acquire from playing football applicable in business?
I think that you can mirror that into business. Like in business, you need to have a strategy, of course. We have to look at our competitors. In football, you have to study your opponents. You have to see what’s their weak point, where you could possibly beat them. But the most important part is to motivate the team, score goals and then you can make everything happen. If you bring the team together, there are great success stories of underdog teams that make great victory, even though nobody was expecting that.
In a nutshell, what is your short-term and long-term plan here in the Philippines?
OUR immediate goal is to develop the partnership with PNB. For our long-term goal, we really need to support, develop, and to close the protection gap here in the Philippines. There are many people, as I’ve said, who are underinsured. There is a long-term project also supported by the government of eradicating poverty here. And Allianz is very strong in health insurance, and that’s a risk that many people are not aware of here, when it comes to medical expenses. So, we would like to contribute in promoting and making sure that if many Filipino families are well protected, they can continue their journey to prosperity and well being.