It’s been a long time coming but in a landmark development Allianz has appointed a woman as a member of its holding company’s management board.
The honour of being the first female appointee in the insurer’s 121-year history has gone to Helga Jung, since 2000 head of group mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
Is Jung’s appointment a token gesture? Posed this question, Allianz CEO Michael Diekmann retorts: “That would be a completely false and unfair interpretation. We made our decision purely on the basis of performance criteria.”
Jung is also conscious of the possibility that her appointment may be viewed as tokenism.
“It’s to be expected,” she says. “But it really doesn’t bother me.”
Jung, who holds a doctorate in business administration, brings a depth of M&A experience having been involved in all major Allianz transaction over the past 10 years. These include merging Italian insurer RAS into Allianz, the minority buyout of French insurer AGF and Allianz’s conversion into a Societas Europaea.
In addition to M&As, her new position brings with it the responsibilities of insurance businesses in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, strategic participations and legal and compliance.
Jung is one of three new senior appointments by Allianz. Also joining its management board is Dieter Wemmer (54) as head of Western European insurance activities except Spain, Portugal and German-speaking countries.
He will also head global property and casualty operations.
Wemmer, an actuary, joins Allianz from Zurich Financial Services where he held the position of chief financial officer. His view on Allianz’s potential is noteworthy.
“After what happened to AIG in the crisis, Allianz was given the opportunity to become a global market leader,” Wemmer says.
“Now it’s a question of making effective use of its strengths in the market.”
The third management board appointee is Gary Bhojwan as head of Insurance USA which encompasses Allianz’s US life, general insurance and asset management operations.
An actuary, Bhojwani was born in India, grew up in Chicago and describes himself as a “product of the East and the Midwest”.
Bhojwani has an impressive record in insurance, having started out in an insurance broking firm he himself founded. He went on to become CEO of Lincoln General Insurance before joining Allianz in 2004 as Fireman’s Fund’s president, commercial business. He was appointed CEO of Allianz Life (US) in 2007.