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had always thought about a posting to the UK or US. But when he was offered a job developing workforce strategies in the Hong Kong office, the opportunities it offered were too good to ignore. The main emphasis of his work in north Asia is workers’ compensation, and unlike the highly regulated and service-saturated Australian market there’s not much competition. “So there are opportunities to grow quickly if the right business plan is in place.” His role has now broadened to co-lead the Marsh Risk Consulting practice in Asia, which takes in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, which he says gives him “much more freedom to think outside the box than in the Australian market”. He says Marsh has more than 60 specialists from many different backgrounds consulting to companies across the region. “We have a vast array of engineers, a seismologist, mathematicians, actuaries… the breadth of skills in the risk consulting team is so much wider than you’d find in any other industry.” While Michael travels extensively, he and Aimee have settled happily into life in Hong Kong.

He admits it took a while to adapt to the frenetic pace of the city, but says they have no regrets about making the move. “The first three months were overwhelming, but after six months we’d settled into life and work here. It’s certainly broadened our horizons.” They have two dogs – “a Chinese mongrel and a toy poodle, both rescue dogs” – and a busy social life. The seemingly permanent grey sky – a result of emissions from coal-fired power stations, traffic and tens of thousands of factories in China's Pearl River Delta – can be countered with plenty of recreational hiking around sparsely populated parts of Hong Kong. And the more crowded life that is inevitable in Hong Kong is countered by the fact that it’s a very efficient place to live and work. “Everything works the way it should,” Michael says. “You can travel across the whole country in an hour. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, and residents get angry if a train is four minutes late. They should try commuting by train in Sydney. “It’s a fantastic city. They might call New York the city that never sleeps, but Hong Kong beats New York hands-down. Any time insuranceNEWS

June/July 2015

of the day or night it’s like Friday night in any other city.” He finds some Australians’ reluctance to progress their careers by working in Asia frustrating, and challenges ambitious insurance professionals to “look at what they want to get out of working in insurance”. “You can get captivated on Australia as the be all and end all, but this region is where it’s really happening and where you’ll gain experience you couldn’t get anywhere else.” Like so many expatriates interviewed by Insurance News, Michael advises Australians wanting to work overseas to talk to their bosses about their ambitions. His managers said they would need up to 12-18 months to find him overseas opportunities, and urged him to research and make his own case also. For the future, he’s confident that when the time comes to move to another post, it will be one where he can capitalise on the experience he has gained in Australia and Asia. There is no shortage of possibilities. “When you come right down to it, it will all depend on what the organisation wants me to do.” 73

Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

JUN/JUL 2015 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

The latest newcomer to the local insurance market is one that’s got competitors worried. It’s Berkshire Hathaway Speciality Insurance, and o...

JUN/JUL 2015 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

The latest newcomer to the local insurance market is one that’s got competitors worried. It’s Berkshire Hathaway Speciality Insurance, and o...