Daisuke Iwase, President and Chief Operating Officer Lifenet Insurance Company, Japan Class of 2010
When I heard in 2010 that I had been selected as a YGL, I didn’t quite understand what it meant. An older Japanese YGL approached me and explained how great this was going to be and that I should commit everything to it. I didn’t get to fully enjoy my first YGL Annual Summit in Tanzania – I was somewhat intimidated, not used to being part of a group of such established professionals.
But as I went to more and more meetings, and got to know people, I began to realize what a great community it is. It helps you get a perspective at a much higher level – you have peers who have done great things in so many other fields, it is a humbling experience. Despite these credentials, the people are very friendly and inspiring on a personal level. One of the friends I made among YGLs was Jayne Plunkett, who is now a member of the group management board at Swiss Re. We’d meet, go for lunch and exchange ideas – I had no idea that she would one day prove instrumental in her company investing in mine.
At that small luncheon in Davos, I shared my views on how the insurance and re-insurance industry should evolve, how it would become more and more exciting for young entrepreneurs. Stefan Lippe, then the chief executive officer of Swiss Re, said he’d like to chat with me personally. I went to see him in the evening, and we went on talking for maybe an hour and a half. Stefan showed strong interest in our model of directly underwriting life insurance on the Internet.
After the meeting, however, we did not really follow up. Then, at a YGL event in China, I ran into Jayne again and mentioned the conversation I had had with her chief executive officer. She suggested we resume the dialogue. After a series of meetings at various Forum events, and more than two years since our first encounter, Swiss Re bought 13.5% of our stock in April 2013, 13 months after my company had gone public.
I am certain that without my friendship with Jayne, and her help in navigating the interaction with Swiss Re executives, it would have been difficult to persuade them to make a minority investment in my start-up. As YGLs, Jayne and I had a high degree of mutual trust, and inspired by the entrepreneurial energy of the YGL community, had the zeal to create something new and make a difference.
“As soon as I met Daisuke I realized he, with Lifenet Insurance, had something very interesting and new to offer the insurance industry. I was excited by what he was doing, and I really thought it made sense to help our two firms find a way to work together. But we ended up with a much greater benefit than just business – we became friends and got to know each other very well. Trust is an important part of both business and personal relationships, and I think the YGL community really acts as a catalyst in developing trust among its members.”
Division Head, Casualty and a Member of the Group Management Board
Class of 2010