Daniel: Be honest, when we took off, did you have any nervous thoughts?
Michael: I have to admit, it was quite a bit different than taking off in a normal plane.
Jan: I also had a queasy feeling.
Axel: To be honest, I’m quite relaxed. Zeppelin has been our customer for a long time and we visit them every year at their headquarters on Lake Constance. That’s why I know how safe the airships are!
Daniel: Jan, was the feeling comparable to your start in the CEE management team at the beginning of the year?
Jan: It was different – not quite as nervy! – but you do have to have respect for the task at hand. For my part, I can say that you already think about it in advance. After all, Liability is the largest unit in the CEE region. This position carries a great deal of responsibility. But I already knew the team from previous activities and knew about their professionalism and strengths, which was very reassuring.
Daniel: With Birgit Vosper, Barbara Klimaszewski-Blettner and the three of you, five new managers have strengthened the EMT in Central & Eastern Europe in recent months. What is it like when a few young managers meet some more established members of the management team?
Axel: From my point of view, it works well and we benefit greatly from the experience of the EMT managers who have been with us for a long time. In the end, we all face similar problems and deal with the same topics, so different perspectives and an open exchange are very helpful.
Daniel: Are you perceived differently in the EMT or by customers due to your relatively young age?
Michael: I didn’t actually feel any fear of contact from day one. Also on the customer side, the contact persons are getting younger and younger, so age is less of an issue from my point of view. The rejuvenation of the teams is not a phenomenon that only occurs in our company. The film industry in particular is very much on the move – and many of our partners are pleased to see that we can continue to attract young talent to industrial insurance.
© Michael Häfner
Daniel: We are in turbulent times with a lot of change within AGCS but also in the working world in general. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the buzzwords of the new times. How do you deal with them?
Axel: In our fast-moving times, I find it particularly important to concentrate on the things that we can determine or influence ourselves. This is certainly not always easy, but from my point of view, it is becoming more and more important. As managers, we are in particular demand here, also to give orientation to our teams.
Jan: It should also be noted that our customers face exactly the same challenges. This can be good as all of these challenges are ultimately the foundation of our business model and part of our value proposition.
Daniel: Nevertheless, the new times are very challenging. Especially for you as managers. When we tried to find a common date, it was very difficult. Is stress unavoidable in your position?
Michael: You always feel stress when you have the feeling of losing control: When you think you can’t handle the amount of work, when something unpredictable crosses your plans, or when the demands on you are too high. In these times, I take a close look at the tasks that need to be done. I think it’s important to carefully analyze their urgency and importance, and to move the less important tasks to stress-free times. I move things without any importance or urgency to the trash. And as a manager, you always have to have the courage to give up work.
Von links nach rechts: Jan Pollmüller, Axel von Frowein und Michael Furtschegger
Daniel: As we cross over the north of Munich, we can see the Allianz Arena below. Does it make you proud that such buildings are insured and sponsored by Allianz?
Michael: I always find it fascinating how broadly AGCS is positioned: Our customers are as diverse as our business, from Fortune Global 500 companies to small businesses to private individuals. We insure not only the world’s largest consumer brands, the world’s best-known technology companies and the global aerospace and shipping industry, but also wineries, satellite operators and Hollywood film productions. That’s impressive.
Axel: Allianz is a great company with over 140,000 employees worldwide serving 88 million customers. The fact that we have a strong international presence is undoubtedly the responsibility of AGCS with its partners in over 200 countries and territories - and that makes me proud.
Daniel: As we approaching the landing zone it is something of a reminder of “what goes up, must come down.” Are you afraid that your own rise will turn out the same way?
Axel: Career paths are changing. I doubt that I will retire from this role in over 20 or 30 years. But I don’t worry about that and am currently looking forward to an exciting role with a great team and interesting customers – like Zeppelin.
Jan Pollmüller was appointed Head of Liability in April 2019 and is responsible for Liability business in Central and Eastern Europe. Axel von Frowein has been Head of Aviation in the region for a little longer – since mid 2018. Michael Furtschegger joined in mid 2018 as Head of Entertainment International, responsible for the Insurance of Film and Event risks. Birgit Vosper, responsible for Claims handling in Liability CEE since mid-2018, and Barbara Klimaszewski-Blettner, Head of the Global Client Unit Germany since February 2019, were not present at the interview.
We are the Allianz Group's dedicated carrier for corporate and specialty insurance business. Our teams work with companies worldwide to create insurance solutions designed for specific industries and business challenges, supporting customers as diverse as the world's largest consumer brands, tech companies and the global aviation and shipping industry, but also wineries, satellite operators, private pilots or Hollywood film actors.