Who is Cheong Mun-kuk?
Cheong Mun-kuk is the first Korean president and CEO of Allianz Life Insurance Korea, the Seoulbased subsidiary of the global giant insurance group headquartered in Germany.
Unlike other CEOs of financial firms who mostly studied finance or economics, Cheong’s education background is in the humanities, which he says has prompted him to seek brisk communication with employees.
He emphasized that his unconventional education background has been an asset not a drawbacks because humanistic thinking has been of great help in the financial business.
“Customers buy insurance because they care about their family. Insurance is all about covering damage to or difficulties of other family members when breadwinners die or have a serious accident,” he said.
“That is closely related to the humanities. My educational background has been an asset in the industry.” In other words, when the basic concept of insurance products is combined with the humanities, it can create a synergy effect.
“Focusing on customers means all business operations are geared toward offering benefits to customers. Insurers and other finance companies used to put more emphasis on the benefits of stockholders instead of for those of the customers,” Cheong said.
“Humanistic thinking is very important as it helps put us in our customers’ shoes.” Cheong was born in Busan in 1959, graduated from Haedong High School and majored in Dutch at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
He joined Jeil Life Insurance in 1984, which was taken over by the Allianz Group in 1999.
He was CEO of Hudson Advisors from 1999 to 2001 and AIG Global Investment Korea between 2001 and 2003.
He returned to the Allianz Group in 2004 to take charge of its sales department and was promoted to chief executive officer of Allianz Korea in 2007.
Part of his efforts to communicate with the firm’s employees is to meet them through workshops with casual settings and he meets staffers at local branches on a regular basis.
He has proactively promoted annuity insurance in Korea as the country is one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world with its birthrate continuing to break the historical lows over the past years.
In addition, the potentially rich market is expected to explode in the not-so-distant future thanks to the Korean baby boomers, those who were born between 1956 and 1963.
The Allianz Group is one of the leading financial service providers in the world with some 142,000 employees and 78 million customers in more than 70 countries.
It marked the highest operating profit for five consecutive years between 2007 and 2011 among international insurance outfits thanks to its risk management systems — it posted more than 7.2 billion euros in operating profit for each of the five years.
It also showed a head start this year as it saw its sales, operating profits and net incomes rose in the first quarter from a year before.