TEXT MARÍA JESÚS PÉREZ FUENTES | PHOTOS MAPFRE | ILLUSTRATIONS ISTOCK
What Héctor, Norah, Antonio, Marcela, Norelys, Matías and Pedro have in common is that practically their whole working life has been linked to the MAPFRE Group. Our leading actors in this issue narrate with nostalgia their first few years in the company and what having spent over 30 years with us means to them.
Norah has clear memories of her arrival in MAPFRE on April 21, 1986. Shortly after graduating in Business Administration from the University of Puerto Rico, she had the chance to join PRAICO, known at that time as “la escuelita” [the little school]. A goal accomplished, she proudly tells us, “as my objective was to learn and grow professionally.” Héctor and Norelys also point to training and learning as the most decisive factors when it comes to joining MAPFRE in Chile and Venezuela, respectively.
“I started at the age of 18,” Pedro, from MAPFRE MÉXICO, tells us, “it was wonderful that this company gave me that first chance and that’s why it’s like a family for me.” Matías, who will be celebrating 34 years at MAPFRE España next August, recalls how, during his first day in the company, he was overwhelmed by the insecurity-driven fear regarding the tasks he would be asked to fulfill, “and his concern about perhaps not having sufficient capabilities and know-how to perform his work with the maximum guarantees, as would be expected in a major enterprise like MAPFRE.” Antonio, from MAPFRE España, has very similar memories. “I was really enthusiastic on my first day, but also filled with fear, as insurance has many different facets and, when you don’t know them all, you’re bound to feel insecure. I also remember that the company was like a big family, we practically knew everyone else there.”
With the passing of the years and all those fears long dispelled, our longstanding employees speak to us about the tremendous transformation they have witnessed during this time in their respective jobs and, consequently, within MAPFRE itself. Despite the differences in their functions, they all point to the fact that truly becoming a global Group has been the main challenge the company has faced in these 30 years, and yet this has enabled them to work in a transversal fashion with the rest of their colleagues around the world.
Another significant change has been the increased concern for the employees right across the board, especially the development of health and well-being policies promoted from the Corporate Human Resources Area.
Norah tells us about MAPFRE’s evolution in Puerto Rico. “When I joined the company, known at that time as PRAICO (Puerto Rican American Insurance Company), the marketing approach was really conservative. We didn’t even advertise ourselves, but its strength in the marketplace spoke for itself and kept it in a very solid position. That was understandable in the economic environment of the time, and with a traditional client, very different from today.”
“We’ve changed in every respect, except in that essence that characterizes us and sets us apart from all the other companies,” adds Norelys. From MAPFRE’s Human Resources Division in Uruguay, she reflects on the evolution of MAPFRE People. “They’ve changed their competencies, the behaviors required to be successful and to be able to accompany the company at any time, because, otherwise, we couldn’t be the benchmark company we are. MAPFRE has always been visionary, with a clear business strategy that leads it to progressively evolve and innovate, transforming itself to adapt to an increasingly demanding environment.”
As MAPFRE has changed and evolved, so have the lives of our Leading Actors. “I’ve been given the opportunity to develop a career and be promoted, which has been the most important personal event that has happened to me in the company,” says Pedro. For Antonio , the chance to grow professionally has also been essential, “helping the different areas to perform their tasks with greater efficiency and better results.”
Marcela speaks of “opportunity”, when she recalls her work during the 1990s. “My greatest challenge was in MAPFRE SOFT which enabled me to travel to Spain, Brazil, Colombia… customizing and commercializing Tronador, and that led to my professional reconversion.”
Throughout these 30 years Norelys has experienced many company milestones and, in the field of Social Responsibility, what stands out are the evolution of Fundación MAPFRE and the Volunteering actions in Uruguay. “On a personal level, over 12 years ago I was invited to form part of the Management Committee at MAPFRE VENEZUELA; I was a member of the Board of Directors and was finally appointed Human Resources Manager at MAPFRE URUGUAY. This speaks volumes for the opportunities and gender equality, and how important people management is for this organization.”
“The current technical work,” explains Matías, processor, “is nothing like that of 1985. The technical means have been updated and we can now tackle the current challenges of personal injury claims processing with the maximum guarantees. As for how the employees are treated, the excellent spirit of labor and social protection the company embodies – and which I’ve perceived from the moment I joined this company – remains unchanged.”
Undoubtedly, the digital transformation and the development of new digital tools have been crucial aspects when it comes to facilitating the daily work of all our longstanding employees, whether in the areas of planning, processing, communication, or people management, among others.
For me, the most important milestone was the creation of a general database”, declares Norelys, which has enabled us to consolidate the information on all our employees and manage different HR processes. Then there is the Corporate Directory, Performance Evaluation, eCampus, the Global Intranet, which makes it easier for us to share knowledge among employees and reinforce the collaborative culture… without a doubt, management technology has made transformation feasible.”
For his part, Pedro believes that the website has expanded the role of the producer in the quote and issuance process of some insurance lines, while creating a new type of client, “those who find technology offers the right way to do business. This is therefore a new challenge and we must facilitate the technological means in order to capture them.”
“In the beginning we worked with display terminals and a mainframe computer,” Héctor recalls, “with fanfold paper for report printouts and preprinted paper for printing policies, payment notices, etc. which we aligned by holding up to the light from a window. And that famous beeper or pager, where you received alerts if some critical process crashed”. “Previously, planning was drafted in a Word document outlining actions, initiatives and indicators. Measurements were pretty much done manually. We now have a corporate tool with standardized concepts, which speeds up the loading and viewing of information. This can then be shared with others instantly”, adds Marcela. Those methods, now obsolete, give us some idea of the numerous changes our Leading Actors have experienced over the decades.
30 years is time enough to live through many situations and experiences, and, in particular, Norah will forever remember the events surrounding hurricane Maríain 2017, the worst natural disaster ever to hit Puerto Rico. “It was a learning experience that served as a trial run in order to enhance our strategy for dealing with future catastrophes.”
Despite the nostalgia evident when talking about those early years in our company, all seven are of the opinion that MAPFRE’s past presents tremendous opportunities for the future, and with that immense experience behind them, they analyze the current situation of our company and the challenges MAPFRE is facing in order to keep growing. “There is no doubt that the digital transformation is key,” declares Héctor, , “as those who don’t go down this road will be left behind, and also growth with profitability.” “Above all, adapting to the dizzying pace of technological advances that directly impact on the insurance business, as well as the objectives of the new Strategic Plan, regaining the trust of our clients and sales force in the auto insurance line…” addsMarcela.
After more than thirty years in the same company, the time inevitably comes for taking stock of what MAPFRE has afforded them on a personal level. They all coincide on how well they have been treated throughout all these years, expressing how grateful they are for the concern for their well-being and labor stability, the Employee Experience (scholarships, leave, development opportunities, training, etc.) and, in the case of Héctor, even for his partner, whom he met working in MAPFRE.
“It’s also important that the company keeps presenting us with new challenges,” adds Marcela, “and encourages us to continue learning,” Norah goes on, “because MAPFRE’s prime component is its workforce, the individuals, all aligned with its Mission, Vision and Values. Undoubtedly, it’s a Great Place to Work”. “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet magnificent colleagues,” Antonio concludes, “who, in the end, become a part of your life, as though they were your family. I’m very proud of the experiences I’ve had, both personally and professionally. I believe I’m what has always been called a MAPFRE Person”.
And for those who wonder why someone decides to stay in the same company for so many years, Norelys has the answer: «“Because every day I learn, innovate, grow and feel I can contribute to the organization and the community, because I can be myself, because it’s a company of opportunities which, without a doubt, I would once again choose as my first job option.”.