The Business Year

David Cook

QATAR - Finance

David Cook

CEO, Sharq Insurance

Bio

After completing his university degree, David Cook began his insurance career as a marketing-underwriting trainee for AEtna Casualty & Surety. His career later excelled when he joined American International Group (AIG), where he was appointed to key executive positions in the US, East Asia, and MENA. He also spent six years with Allianz. Between Allianz and AIG, Cook spent six years in in the Gulf region working in both the UAE and KSA, which later led to his appointment as CEO of Sharq Insurance in 2021.

Sharq Insurance facilitates proactive management of general insurance risk protection and offers services to corporate and individual clients in Qatar.

How does Sharq Insurance secure consumer trust and brand loyalty?

An insurance company is all about trust. The service that we provide only occurs when there is a claim, which generally is an emergency and must be handled with delicacy. So, you only know how good your insurer is when you have a claim. Building confidence with consumers and purchases of our products, typically only happen at the claim process, but we would prefer to build brand awareness and trust before a claim occurs. Therefore, we are kicking off an ad campaign to try to not only build brand awareness, but make people realize that Sharq is here to serve you in your times of need. This is a typical approach by insurers globally, but I have not seen this approach here in the Gulf region. So, we are interested to see how the public and consumer react to our campaign and the content that we are going to add to our social media. We’re going to focus on building trust, and one of our mottos will be to provide bespoke services for our products.

Can you elaborate on the company’s rebranding in 2020?

Currently, our assessment of the insurance market is that the consumer has been acclimatized, if you will, solely to price because they are receiving few value-added services. Hence, we understand that in order to break that trend, we are going to have to provide the right price while providing the value-added services that they are not getting currently. We intend to change the marketplace to where price is not the only denomination or consideration to buy a product. We basically have two different segments, the consumer segment, and corporate products. The brand awareness and the value-added service—the bespoke service—is different for a consumer than it is for a corporation. So, we are dividing our company and our employees into segments to service the needs of each. For the consumer, we have the advantage of being a wholly owned subsidiary of the bank which has depositors and credit card clients.

What is the value of know-how and human capital formation within the firm?

Most recently, we had an offsite gathering where we spent the majority of the day sharing our business plan for this year. As a result, we decided to take the time to recognize employees for their contributions, giving out five-, 10- and 15-year awards for their employment record, and I was astonished that these people had worked here and never been properly recognized. We also initiated an employee of the month program and try to take the opportunity in the office to celebrate small activities to create an atmosphere of togetherness and teamwork. We believe human capital is the most important asset that we have. One of the things that I’ve developed over several years is what I call the six Ps—the people, process, product, philosophy, and producers equals profit. Producers are what we refer to as those who sell our products on our behalf. These are brokers and agents. Ultimately, the people who know the best working process are the employees themselves. Additionally, we’ve replaced the entire leadership team with highly qualified international insurance leaders whose first priority is to lead, teach, coach, inspire, and mentor.

What are your priorities for the coming year?

The number one priority is our employees. So, if I take care of them, they will take care of the company. Then there’s the ad campaign, which is crucial in that our company, despite having been established 14 years ago, is for the most part unknown as well as it should be. If we get the brand recognition, our employees will be all the prouder to work here. Our two-year goal and objective is to be rated as the most preferred insurer employer in Qatar.

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