Welcome to Empowering Innovators; the Youtube
show where we talk about innovation and disruption, and today we have Ron van Oijen the CEO of
Vivat. Welcome Ron! Thank you Patrick! Hey Ron, you became the CEO of Vivat a few
years ago and when we met, the first thing you said to me is “Patrick we need to focus
on innovation to grow but also to survive”. Was that already something you had decided
before you took the position as CEO of this insurance company Vivat? Well I came from Asia and I saw immediately a few things
that are completely different here than in Asia, and they are called emerging markets
over there. But in some aspects they are ahead of us. For example, you will have a company like
WeChat or Alibaba, but also my last position was in Thailand and they were using mobile
phones for everything, and here people are still using laptops so I was surprised. At the same time I could see we had to do
something at Vivat. And I thought what would be a good thing,
that actually became innovation because the insurance industry not a lot of things happened
in the past 50 years actually, not many successes, and I could see around the world there was
some startups that came with new ideas so I thought okay we have to do something, and
to survive we have to work with startups, we have to something with innovation. That became actually the theme in the company;
innovation. At that time I came across this building,
I didn’t want to go inside. You didn’t want to go inside?! Why not? If you compared it with a regular office of
an insurance company it’s completely different. I come across that experience quite a lot,
people coming over here and seeing seeing something else yeah? The furniture, the whole set-out, the people. I think the most important is the people,
not the furniture and the set-out, the people, and that makes me thing to change the company
we have to do something different here. And we had a chat at that time. I think I’m now almost three years in position
and the process is really slowly I have to say to change an existing company. To change that is really… I thought it would be on a much higher platform
with innovation than we are today. So it is a difficult process for an existing
company, especially the bigger the company gets its more difficult. Compared with a starter that has a blank sheet
to start out with. Thats the biggest challenge for us as a company. And can you point out some of those challenges
and explain why, in your opinion, why they are not moving as fast as you would like them
to move? People. Its people, its culture. So the challenge is “How do I move these people.” and we started with 3,600 people and we reduced
it right now to 2,400. How do we transform these people to at least
think of innovation, not even embrace innovation, at least think of innovation, and that’s the
biggest challenge. And if you talk about innovation, what is
your definition, do you distinguish between product innovation and business model innovation? Are those two together for you? First I think innovation is how do I disrupt
the insurance industry and that doesn’t matter its a process or in product for me. So how do I disrupt the insurance industry,
and frankly speaking, I think it’s strange industry, if you would have asked me this
question three years ago, I would have given you a different answer. What I see today is a lot of startups in the
financial world, not many off them are successful in the insurance industry yet. One of the reasons is regulation. There is very strong regulation. You can do something as a startup, but at
some point in time you have to regulate it. So there is one obstacle for being successful. The other one is capital, you need a lot of
capital in the financial industry. As a startup; if you don’t have capital, you
don’t have to deal with regulation, but at some point that comes, and that’s why they
are struggling. There are some startups in the world that
are pretty successful, but still not in the bottom line, and only to a certain extent. So its very protective industry. So to really become very disruptive, and also
without making that step we expected in the beginning. I think that’s the biggest challenge. If you look at how you can use new technology
to either disrupt your current business and come up with new businesses. We see some activity in that domain, let me
give you an example; one of our alumni, you might have heard about them, they were just
acquired by one of your competitors, MunichRE, which is a global insurance company. They bought the company for one reason, it
was because with their technology, which is basically predictive maintenance technology. They disrupt insurance because what their
vision was that eventually you don’t need insurance, and this is in big industry plants
and machinery, if you have productive maintenance, so MunichRE became first shareholder and investor
and eventually decided to acquire, and that’s coming from a completely different domain,
that’s coming from IOT, so an IOT solution disrupts potential traditional service as
in large machinery plants. Is that also something that you look at? Its a bit beyond insurance, but its technology
that is impacting the insurance industry. Yeah, I think if you will not change, than
in 20 years you are gone, perhaps even 15-10 years time you are gone. Insurance in general? In general. So not only Vivat, any insurance company. I think if you don’t change you are gone in
10-20 years, and so we have to change, as I said before it is difficult because most
of the time Have to talk to m colleagues and convince them, so that’s a very difficult
part. I do believe that today we pay a lot of claims,
if you have a car accident, if you have water leakage at your home, if you have a fire at
home, and then we pay the damages right?, that’s usually the life insurance. But in the future, there is no water leakage
because of sensors. There is no fire, because there are more sensors
and if there is fire something will happen with water in your home. With cars, and I think that is something that
is closer to us, you have sensors in your car that will keep the distance between the
car before you. So less accidents, in principle? There will be no accidents. Yeah, so the whole concept of driving will
be completely different. Maybe there will be a long train, but still
with your old car, so I think that will change people who ride in a car by themselves, there
will probably be four people in one car because we get into too many traffic jams. I think the whole insurance industry, for
those few products, will change and not exist anymore, so you have to change. So instead of insuring, we will be doing some
preventing. Its a little bit what MunichRE doing, buying
productive maintenance to protect it. So you are moving away from fixing the pain,
or at least putting a plaster on the pain. You go to preventing eventually. So the whole business model and the whole
service of an insurance company will change in the next 5-10 years, that’s your vision? Yeah, that’s my vision, so that’s on the non-life
side, on the life side, again because the capital you need, I believe we really go back
the basics of insurance, that you have group of people who say, “I insure you, something
will happen to one of us, a kind of association, we cover you. In Dutch it’s called broodfonds. So its a very simple, basic insurance, there
is no capital involved, and then the insurance company could actually provide the platform. So you become a platform provider? So I cannot say too much, looking at for example,
pension, everybody knows pension. I thought everybody knows pension. Many people don’t! We did an interview, that’s also something
we learned here, we did an interview near Central Station, and we just interviewed people
about pension. The results are really stunning, or shocking. People didn’t know. And there was one person and he knew about
pension. Not really interested… That’s not my problem right now. So a shocking result, so we thought, “Ok,
so we have to develop something else.” So we are not talking about pension anymore. So we talk about platform. And the platform is, “How do you live healthy?”
or “what kind of profession do you have?” “How can we help you with your profession?” “The money you have today.” “The salary you have today” “Do you think
you need to go through 20 years, 30 years.” So its awareness and creation. It’s not one product, its a platform, you
attract the people to your platform and then just as a side product, there is a pension
somewhere. So its not a direct, let’s say sell, it’s
more awareness creating a potential funnel for people to create awareness about what
they might have to arrange now for their future. So that’s my vision, so I think that will
be the future for insurance in life, and non-life. But as I said before, the most difficult is
how do I convince my colleagues. Because we are still sitting on assets which
we invest on behalf of our customers. Which is huge, that also keeps us alive. And to change that, to change something existing
which has been running for 50 years, 100 years, that’s very difficult for people to change
that. You just talked about a very important topic
which is health. Which obviously in the insurance world is
huge topic. And prevention of health issues, curing. Other domains that you have looked at that
you have defined were you say, “hey, this is where we want to play with our future platforms?” Pensions you mentioned? We are main provider of pensions in the Netherlands,
we will not be active in the health insurance industry. But we work together on the platform with
health providers. So how do you live a healthy life?, if you
life a healthy life you will live longer. Of course you have to pay a much lower pension. How do you invest your money? We see a movement towards more green investments,
impact investing. But eventually everything will come back to
your platform. So we are not an insurance company or a pension
company, its a platform with one player on that platform, we could manage the platform
ourselves or it could be your platform with this particular platform. We shortly touched up on in the beginning
of the conversation on culture, and one of the things we are seeing is that now intrapreneurship
and entrepreneurship is becoming a more relevant topic than when you or me went to university. You see a lot of youngsters just out of university
or in university still and already launching their startups and we see that there is more
and more intrapreneurship programs, we do a program with Vivat as well where we basically
help to develop internal startups, corporate startups. What do you see changing in that domain of
let’s say intrapreneurship in the industry in general with corporates and maybe specifically
more in the insurance world. Are there entrepreneurs in the company? Are they hard to find? I think in general what I noticed that we
try to recruit someone in our company, he came to the head office. He rejected the job, then he came to our office
here in this building, and he accepted the job. So its the same company but with a different
name, completely different location, different people, different mindset. So its very difficult within your own company,
to build that culture. It’s very difficult. But I really think you have to reach outside
your own company, because you have the culture from scratch and then just expand over there,
your company. So it’s very difficult for us to find in our
existing company those entrepreneurs its very difficult. I think also the new generation doesn’t want
that. I think they are looking for a completely
different kind of job. An environment. They don’t care about life-long employment,
not anymore, I work for 6 months, then I will travel for 4 months, then come back to a job
over here. Thats a different culture. We have to embrace that culture. We cannot do not in our own office, so we
have to do it over here. In a new environment you have to expand your
office. I think that’s something we have to talk about
as well. How can I come as a company, on the next platform
and then the next platform. So we have to make the next step. So I went through all the challenges, all
the struggles. I cannot move to the next platform, we have
a chat. And then how can I go one platform higher. Thats the next step, and then you continue. So we have the Vince, let’s say innovation
domain space here which is very close to where we work with our other corporate partners
but also with a lot of startups and scaleups here in the ecosystem. But I guess you also want to leverage a bit
what you have at the mothership right? You have branch, you have distribution, you
have clients, you have money in the bank, all that stuff right? So how do you keep that connected still and
maybe leverage what you have in the execution engine and benefit from that in the innovation
engine. But not let the execution engine slow down
what you do here. Have you found a formula to bring both together? The ideas that are coming from the head of
us, because people do have ideas, we try to put them here, locate them here. So here they can work on those ideas and see
if that would lead to something. So we will follow the same process as you
have with a lot of startups. So that will be a startup inside the company. But again, some people are very eager to do
that, again I think at some point we should transfer those people here as well. So what you see over here is bigger, bigger,
bigger. And the other company will get smaller, smaller,
and smaller. What I see quite often, this is not only with
our own company, I see it in the whole insurance industry. There is a lot of window dressing, put innovation
, put startups, do this master-class innovation, you do work agile. That sounds good. We were working with another company on our
organization, how it looks like and salary skills these type of things. So its very difficult, I think after three
years. I think the only thing I can do. You do the master-class innovation, you repeat
it, but its like you are putting a bucket of very hot water in a pot, then you measure
the pot and there is no difference. So you have to throw in buckets of hot water. every time. Do you think that differs a bit maybe per
industry? Is the insurance industry maybe an industry
that is a bit slower? Do you talk to peers that maybe work in CPG
or in I don’t know… The banking world. So you’re in insurance but maybe banks like
ING. Do you feel there is a difference between
the cultures in these companies and how they are adapting innovation? I think the culture, as usual, is doing a
very good job with innovation. But still it’s not disruptive because you
go to a bank or use mobile banking. I think it becomes different on your mobile
phone or perhaps your watch. You do the payment, so the payments could
be different, why do I go to the bank or why do I need banking? I don’t think it’s disruptive yet. Also they have regulation, and they also need
capital. So the industry is not making it much… let’s
say with all the regulation and its more protective than let’s say CPG, and Unilever, or Coca-Cola. They also have restrictions but they are very
different I think than the ones that the finance world, the Fintech world has. The financial world is more protective because
of the regulators than the other industries so you expect more in the other industries. Then you have the health industry so all the
developments over there. Thats also changing quite rapidly. I think the financial industry is more follow-up. And yes processes, chat botting all these
things that we do. Thats incremental innovation right? Its optimisation, it’s not really disruptive,
it’s not business model. So these things we do, but it is not disruptive. Part of your strategy and vision is to be
collaborating with scale ups and startups maybe also learning a little bit from how
they innovate. You have been saying, “Listen we need to do
that”, that’s why you’re also here in the building. You have people in. your team who actually understand now how
to collaborate with startups, and that’s not always so easy. What have been you takeaways in the last few
years in trying to establish a relationship with early stage companies between your later
stage company. Yeah so especially with the startups my colleagues
ask, “What do we get from it? many of them don’t exist in one or two years.” They are free training for us, we work with
them and they run the business. They checked if it is good or not for a client. We don’t pay them we just work with them and
we learn a lot. So I think that’s the biggest benefit we have
with startups. So the mindset, the cultural difference we
learn from that. I work now with one startup which I think
will become very very successful. It gives me a lot of energy to work with a
startup like that. Its quite disruptive, and at the same time
because its disruptive there are very new things coming which are also interesting. Personally, I get energy from mentoring startups
like that. I think even if they don’t succeed, you learn
a lot. Thats why I think I’m eager and also this
is something we have to… What we did in the beginning we still do,
but I think we have to go to the next level as well. Then you have the scaleups as well, that’s
different for your business. I think our company learns a lot from startups,
even if they are not successful then you say, “Well they have tried, and didn’t succeed
we didn’t spend a penny… but we have learned a lot.” Are they learning something from you? How difficult the insurance industry is, in
terms of regulation and capital. I think we do have, in terms of processes,
they see that we are quite innovative, they see that. We also help them find also the people who
are here, who work here are also invited to the head office. Spend one day in the head office. And then I talk to these people and say, “Okay,
the lunch is different here than in B.” I have a pass to enter the building, it’s very
formal. And I try to change that. It’s very formal. To make a decision in a company like yours,
that takes ages. It has to go through this person, after that
person, it goes to the manager. 5, 6, 7 people need to put a signature on
something. In a startup it’s like, done. Which is done with a colleague sitting next
to you. So also I cannot change this, but at least
for them its important to see. That it’s possible right? Right. Working together there and my colleagues from
my head office being here but also vice versa, the people from here working at the head office
also helps. We are aiming for that as well to exchange
people. But it has to be on a much bigger scale. And for that I need to convince my colleagues. And my colleagues are asking for a business
plan. I say, “Business plan? What is the business plan of Uber? Air b&b? All those very successful startups should
be about data. To change the mindset of my colleagues about
innovation startups is the biggest challenge. I think what we have seen is that obviously
your colleagues and you and me ourselves myself as well, when we went to University we learned
about a certain toolset. We got a little box, which tells us how to
deal with; P&L’s, balance sheets, how to measure progress, how to measure growth right? Make business plans, to do business planning
right? What we are both seeing is that toolbox doesn’t
work in the domain that we are active in. So there is a miss-match. So my insight is that you have to teach your
colleagues that there is a different toolbox for doing what we are doing together and doing
with the startup. So it’s about education, its about inspiration
there also because if they are going to use this toolbox that they learned 25 years ago
at school its going to immediately collide. And not every colleague of you is immediately
open to that. But I think showing them that there is a different
toolbox, already helps. So that’s something we are going to discuss
in the next few days I think. I have some final questions for you. It is already the end of the conversation,
which I really enjoyed so I would like to thank you for that. Just some rapid fire questions. In three words, the journey of innovation
for you so far. How has that been? I enjoy it. That’s three words, that’s really good. A book everybody should read about disruption,
innovation?I have to admit, I don’t read any books. I only read Harvard Business Review to stay
on top of developments. I have bad issues I have no time to read books. I also want to read the newspaper. But I read only the Harvard Business Review. There are some great insights in the Harvard
Business Review. How do you deal with work/life balance? What would be your tip for our audience? Enjoy what you do. So you just explained to me that you don’t
read books… but I’ve got a great book for you which I think you should read. It is written by Bibian Mentel, who is a Paralympic
gold-medal winner. She’s a personal friend of the Startupbootcamp
family and myself and my family. This is is about persistence, about how to
deal with the unexpected things in life and how to be persistent when you are really at
a tough phase in your life and have to make hard decisions, which Bibian had to do a lot,
she’s hanging in there and doing really well. And we also sometimes need to do, on a completely
different level when we’re doing business but I think there is a similarity between
top sport and being a CEO of a large company. Thank you very much. Thank you… thank you.