Lifestyle Personal Lines the May 2020 issue

Tarun Chopra, President and CEO, Clements Worldwide

I feel the immense responsibility of continuing the Clements legacy.
By Chris Hann Posted on April 27, 2020
Q
You were named CEO in December. What has been the biggest surprise about your new position?
A
I did not expect the impact that the coronavirus is having on the world or on our business. It has been trial by fire, and it is the biggest fire that you could think of.

Favorite vacation spot: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Favorite Indian restaurant in Washington, D.C.: The Bombay Club

Favorite dish at The Bombay Club: Dal Makhani (black lentils, tomato and garlic, cooked for 16 hours)

Favorite movie: Life Is Beautiful

Favorite Bollywood movie: Three Idiots (“It’s a comedy about three college kids. One of them is challenging the whole education system. It’s a good movie, with a message.”)

Favorite actor: Tom Hanks

Favorite musician: Michael Jackson (“I still have not been able to do the moonwalk. It’s on my bucket list.”)

Favorite book/author: The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma (“It’s a book on discipline. It gives you framework on how to structure your day.”)

Q
How has the outbreak of COVID-19 affected work at Clements Worldwide?
A
We quickly moved to completely digital work throughout all of our offices worldwide. We have taken some tough measures to protect our customers and employees, but we’re continuously exploring new ideas to thrive and not just survive.
Q
And how has your family handled the self-isolation?
A
It has been a welcome change because now I get to spend more time with my wife and teenage son. We are following government guidelines and exercising caution as it relates to social distancing by staying indoors, working out together as a family to stay fit, and bonding while playing board games. 

Q
You’re the first non-family member to lead Clements Worldwide.
A
Jon Clements stepped back from the CEO position in the fall of 2019 and is now the chairman. His parents founded the firm in 1947, so now I feel the immense responsibility of continuing the Clements legacy. We are still figuring out where his responsibilities end and mine begin. We are fine-tuning our roles, and the company is adjusting to this new structure.
Q
You were born in New Delhi and have worked in many places around the world. How have you adjusted to living and working among different cultures?
A
The two biggest necessities are empathy and flexibility. I really like to understand the other person’s perspective. A lot of it has to do with their culture and their upbringing. Knowing about their background gives me insight into how they think about things. As for flexibility, if you are going to work on four different continents, you cannot be rigid. Understanding and adapting to changing circumstances is key.
Q
What about the language barrier?
A
I speak three languages, but for every country I travel to, I try to learn a few sentences in the native language. I can do basic greetings—Hi. How are you?—in German, French, Italian and Spanish. When you travel to a new country and attempt to speak their language, it demonstrates that you are making an effort.
Q
Who were your childhood heroes?
A
Sachin Tendulkar, an Indian cricket player. He’s a great cricket icon worldwide.
Q
What is something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?
A
With any sport involving a racquet, like badminton, table tennis, squash or racquetball, I am right-handed. With any sport involving a stick, like baseball, golf or hockey, I am left-handed. I have no explanation as to how that happened.
Q
What’s the most interesting thing in your office?
A
My collection of cricket balls and memorabilia.
Q
How would your co-workers describe your management style?
A
A very good combination of strategy and empowerment. I believe in making sure everyone understands what the big picture is. At the same time, I try to empower our leadership team to make decisions and execute accordingly.
Q
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
A
I would change the image of the insurance industry. I would like it to be sexier than what it is right now. I want it to be interesting and exciting, where people say, “Yes, that is what I want to do.”
Q
Last question. What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
Due to the number of countries I have worked in and traveled to, I have a very good understanding of different perspectives, both from a business and cultural standpoint. I have been able to successfully navigate through all the different aspects of the international business world.

Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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