An interview with Majid Mohamad, president and chief executive of Labuan Re.
Choose four adjectives to describe yourself.
Honest, impatient, open-minded and down-to-earth.
Which historical figure do you most admire and why?
Napoleon Bonaparte. I was presented with a case study on him while attending an executive programme at INSEAD business school in Paris and was fascinated with his ability to command French soldiers with his big ambitions despite his small size. Colourful as he was, although he was a good general, he was a lousy CEO!
Who in this industry do you most admire and why?
As I came from a banking background, having spent half of my career life in it, it’s a bit difficult for me to name a person I admire. As an institution, I most admire the Lloyd’s market as a very successful entity that has evolved into one of the most well-respected insurance marketplaces in the world.
Outside of this industry what issue are you most passionate about?
I am concerned and spend a lot of time thinking about poverty in the world and wondering how the rich nations, with financial capacity, ignored the plight of the poor nations. These are the very rich nations that invaded and plundered natural resources belonging to these poor nations to build their own countries. However, when these poor nations began to develop and started to work on their land, they received all sorts of pressure and were accused of damaging the environment. They are also held responsible for adverse climate change and so on. There must be a fair balance in this issue.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
I admire people who are honest and treat people fairly, irrespective of religious belief, educational background or race.
What qualities do you most dislike in other people?
People who are racist and those who look down on other people’s capabilities.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started in this industry?
I wish I would have known how competitive the insurance industry is. It is especially competitive now that the cycle is heading south and prices are softening!
What was the last thing that completely surprised you?
The massive increase in oil prices. They have doubled within a space of one year and are now above $130 per barrel.
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
I spend time with my five children. Having a young family does restrict me from enjoying quiet time together with my other half though. Our family takes up most of our time.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
Looking forward to finishing another week! My career takes me all over the world and I?have built up relationships with people from many interesting and differing backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoy this experience that comes with enjoying the work that I?do.
Whose job would you most like to have and why?
Tiger Wood’s. Collecting money while enjoying the game and sometimes getting paid just to appear in the crowd must be wonderful.
What is your biggest regret?
Not starting a family early enough to enjoy my near retirement age, so I can indulge in all the hobbies I have missed over the last 30 years of my busy career.
What are you most proud of having achieved?
Being able to be where I am now after taking a risk and entering the private sector after an earlier career spent in Government service. I think time has been kind to me. Since joining Labuan Re, the company has been on a profitable track. For those who know our business is cyclical, this is nothing magic. I joined the company during the last up-cycle.
What factors have enabled you to get where you are today?
The support from my family has been an important push for me to move forward.