Having spent nearly three decades with the company, Michael Li has big dreams for Marsh China. He’s not afraid of high targets; instead, he believes they should be ambitious to motivate the team. “I met with the head of the global company two years ago in Singapore.
At the time, our China portfolio was US$60 million. I wanted to set up a target to motivate our clients and make it clear for our local staff to move forward, so I said that by 2020 we want to have a US$100 million portfolio in China.”
“By 2020, we want to have a US$100 million portfolio in China.”
Marsh has a rich heritage spanning more than 130 years. With 500 offices worldwide and a 34,000-strong workforce, it provides insurance broking and risk management advisory to customers in a wide range of industries. “Our key value to our clients is helping them manage their risk issues and making them more successful,” Michael explains.
As a leader, Michael believes the bottom line is that everyone is accountable for their performance and behaviour, and it is his role to lead by example. “I do my best to provide guidelines,” he says.
“I motivate the core leadership team to help them to be excellent role models for the mid-level managers and employees. This will make us stand out in the industry. “We try to be different from our competitors,” he continues. “Every time we deal with a client, we start from the root, beginning with risk management.
Risk prevention then leads to insurance solutions. Marsh is industry focused, so we try to understand industry-specific risk issues, and talk to our clients – many of which are global companies – in their industry language.”
Michael says it’s common for multinational insurance companies to expand into China, but during this process, they face challenges. “The local market is always competitive,” he says. “It’s already a tough go. International companies often focus on analysing results and profitability in China.
Our company acts differently from this. We act from a service perspective. We are familiar with Chinese entities and focus on providing tailored services as well as competitive pricing to meet local needs.”
For day-to-day operations, Marsh has a KPI system and completes a performance review each month. “The performance review system follows the global Marsh system,” he explains. “We offer employee benefits, and have a satisfaction survey for feedback from clients. This process keeps us on top of things and ensures we are providing the highest level of service.”
All employees of Marsh are bound by a code of conduct, known as The Greater Good. The company also applies a diversity and inclusion policy in support of a key objective to “attract, retain, develop and motivate the best people in our fields of endeavour, at all levels”.
In terms of productivity, Michael always tries to get things done on time. “I don’t procrastinate,” he says. “That’s not my style.” Though he’s strict with deadlines, he says it’s important to be flexible in the grand scheme of things. “Things change,” he points out.
“I don’t procrastinate. That’s not my style.”
“People always comment on how long I’ve worked with the same company, but Marsh is always changing and I’ve needed to be prepared for what is next. I’ve had different assignments in different cities. I’ve worked with different people. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing different global executive positions.”
Originally from Shanghai, Michael has taken up residence in Beijing and often travels for his role. When he’s home, he likes to wake up to a round of exercise such as running or swimming. “I usually run about five or six kilometres,” he says. “This way, I’m able to warm up, start fresh and take this time for a quick review of my to-do list for the day.”