Jose A. Hernandez, Argo Group

Jose A. Hernandez

Going “Glocal”

Editors’ Note

Jose Hernandez joined Argo Group in 2016 as Head of International Business. Prior to this, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of AIG’s Asia Pacific region. Hernandez spent more than 20 years with AIG in a number of senior leadership roles in both the consumer and commercial segments. He has expertise in field operations, distribution, underwriting, claims, strategic planning, and management. Hernandez has a B.S. degree in marketing and management from Bentley University and an M.B.A. from the College of Insurance in New York.

As Head of International, how do you intend to build Argo’s brand globally?

I’m a firm believer that the best way to grow a brand – the most sustainable way and the least expensive way – is through the employees and representatives of the company. How they act, how they conduct themselves, and how successful they are in their endeavors will be the greatest influence on other people’s perception of our strength and value. We could spend all the money in the world buying banner ads and doing cute commercials – you know, getting little animals to do funky stuff – and that might take us some distance. But to me, even though we’re moving into the digital space, insurance is still a people business. The executive leadership team itself needs to take Argo’s brand out into the market first. As we hire, train, and reallocate resources around the organization, we then need to spot and support Argo employees who are great brand ambassadors themselves. How they perform and interact with our customers will make the greatest difference to how our company is thought of. That’s as true for a global company as it is for a regional player.

You’ve said one has to think globally, but act locally. What does that mean?

These days, you’ve got to be “glocal.” It doesn’t matter what size your company is or what sort of industry you’re in. You have to have an ability to relate, to understand how macro and microeconomic factors affect new territories, to understand people’s behaviors, and to appreciate the cultural contexts within which they do business. That’s just as important as the technical aspects of what you’re doing. Therefore, the ability to bring in global assets, resources, know-how, intellectual property – and deliver them all in a local market through local channels in local languages with local nuances – is the key to success. That’s how you go “glocal.” It seems so obvious and so simple, yet very few do it well.

How can you assure that kind of cultural awareness?

It depends on what you’re trying to do and who your audience is. First, decide what kind of brand you want to build. A consumer brand? A commercial brand? A reputational brand in certain circles and for particular communities? Given the way Argo does business internationally, our brand building has to be done hand in hand with our producers – the brokers and agents who recommend us to their own clients. It is they who understand the full cultural context of any local community. We rely on them. Similarly, if we build a brand of collaboration and partnership, our brand building will have to be done in concert with other insurance companies who might turn to us for reinsurance, for example. With those partners, it is our clarity on risk appetite, the consistency with which we state what we’re willing to do and not do, and treating them as true partners that will really build our brand.