Delphine Maidou, CEO of Allianz AGCS: CFOs should plan for succession

Introducing the CFO Awards Jury Delphine Maidou is CEO of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Africa, one of the largest and most renowned insurance and financial services providers in the world. Delphine is one of the 12 jury members who have committed to be on the jury for the CFO Awards 2014. Together with the other members of the jury she will decide on who will win one of the 7 prestigious CFO awards. The event will be held May 15 at the beautiful Summer Place in Johannesburg. For more information visit cfoawards.co.za

“Succession planning will be on the top of my list when I do my research and when I interview candidates for the CFO Awards,” says Delphine Maidou, CEO in Johannesburg for risk insurance firm Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS). Over the last year the Burkina Faso-born executive has successfully spear-headed the business expansion of the German multinational into (South) Africa. “Capacity building is a concern, not just for the financial world but for the insurance world as well,” she has noticed.

The question of how to “bring young people on board” is one that occupies her mind. “It is great to see financial transformation in the country and many CFOs are complying with the relevant regulations and performing at a high level, but what do they personally do about succession planning? There are lots of very strong people in CFO positions. The have built up great knowledge and credentials over the years. However, they are all getting older and what remains is a knowledge gap. I want to know what they are doing about that.”


A related aspect that Maidou will use to adjudicate the candidates is leadership. “How do you get people to follow you without you having to force them? That is what I am interested in. I know that the performance, strategic thinking and other qualities that CFOs are supposed to have are all there; that is why they are nominated in the first place.” Returning to succession planning, Maidou rejects the idea that South Africa’s history makes this process extra complicated. “There are a lot of young people that are eager and willing to learn. It is our responsibility to build people.”

Asked what she does about succession planning herself, Maidou stresses that Allianz has a whole division that looks at this. “Here in South Africa we have used our first year to build a business and a flow of revenue. In the next stage we also will be building young people. That can be through internships, but also through mechanisms like our hiring policy. When I appointed an executive assistant, I did not look for someone that was already strong at what they do, but I went for someone out of university. That takes more time initially, but you help to build a person.”

Allianz offers companies property, financial lines, engineering, marine, liability and energy insurance from its South African office. The company also provides access to all the complementary products and services offered by the Allianz Group and its network in over 150 countries. In an interview with CFO South Africa last year, Maidou explained how the multinational underwriter has decided to focus more on South Africa and Africa. Read more here. A year later, the CEO is satisfied at the progress they have made. “It has been good. When we spoke last year we were still in the process of finalizing our team. Since then we have doubled our business and acquired new accounts. Our main purpose has been to become more relevant in South Africa and in Africa as a whole – and that’s what we’ve done.”

<
Maidou says Allianz has been “fortunate that customers have brought in substantial business” despite the low economic growth in South Africa. “I would not say it has been easy. Many firms are loyal to their insurance partners, but at the same time there is a lot of interest in Allianz as an international player. Many companies want to be associated with the brand of the company and the strength of the people that work with us. Some have specifically made space in their insurance portfolio to be associated to Allianz. If you look at the top JSE-companies, most of them do business with us.”


Interaction with South African CFOs has been good, says Maidou, who has a lot of international experience. She believes that South African CFOs fit right into the international mould. “We needed to make sure we got to know all the risk managers, but they generally answer to CFOs and they also need to be happy. So we have done the round and met quite a few CFOs. The financial strength of insurance companies is always on top of their list. They want to make absolutely sure that the insurance company will be there when there is an emergency. Besides that our contact is also about building personal relationships.”


For more information about the CFO Awards please visit cfoawards.co.za

- New nominated CFOs announced weekly
- The Attending CFOs
- Join the CFO Awards