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MEET Tony Seto

National Manager, Construction, New Zealand

Team Construction

Segment Corporate Risk and Broking

Location Auckland, New Zealand

Year hired 2008

University Institute of Risk Management U.K., International Certificate in Risk Management and Diploma in Financial Services (Insurance Broking)

Personal interests

Sports (NBA), food, travelling to new places, movies and spending time with my family — mostly running around after my two young girls, ages five and three.

Can you tell us about your career progression with Willis Towers Watson?

Over the span of 10 years at Willis Towers Watson, I have progressed from an account broker support role for Global Inbounds to an account executive in the Construction practice, to an account manager, Construction and Corporate — where I was responsible for managing some of the company’s largest construction and energy clients — to my current role as the New Zealand national construction manager.

Can you tell us about the day-to-day responsibilities of your job?

My current role is very diverse and my responsibilities range from the management of our largest contractors and their risk and insurance requirements, assessment of project risks for our principal/owner clients in order to design a tailored bespoke solution, and being a resource for colleagues by providing education, collateral and assistance on any construction-related matters for their clients. Day-to-day, my time is generally split between managing our contractors, developing construction project requirements for our principal/owner clients and working with the New Business team on new client opportunities.

What are the key challenges of your role? How have you overcome them?

One of the key challenges I faced was to overcome unconscious bias I had about myself and how I would be perceived in a leadership position within the Construction practice among peers, clients, prospects, and competitors, being a 30-year old Kiwi-born Chinese in such a technical discipline. I quickly realized that our senior management appointed me for a reason, and with their full support, confidence, accessibility and “open door” approach, I was fully accepted among the wider construction business.
In November 2016, we were invited to a broker tender for one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies, whose relationship history with competitors spanned 20-plus years. Over a 10-week period, we were able to quickly build rapport and win the high-profile client. This was a great team win which validated our position in New Zealand — and in the industry — despite a changing of the guards in the Construction leadership role.

What training and development opportunities have you received in your role?

As this has been my first insurance experience, basically everything I’ve learned is a training opportunity! I started with the company at age 22 and had to quickly learn everything about risk and insurance. I was fortunate to have learnt from the best of the best (my predecessor David Hewitt). I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work in other sectors of the business and on other large corporate clients. I’ve also received plenty of support from management in regard to pursuing further formal study to achieve industry qualifications. I have personally experienced tremendous growth, and I owe that to the colleagues around me in New Zealand and in the industry who are always willing to share their knowledge and help towards my personal development.

What is your proudest achievement since joining Willis Towers Watson?

Last year, I was recognized as the Young Insurance Professional of the Year at the 6th Annual New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards. I was also a recipient of the Willis Towers Watson’s 2017 CEO Circle Award, which recognizes colleagues who have made outstanding contributions by going above and beyond and bringing our values to life in a notable way. The CEO Circle Award involved a flight to Miami to meet other award recipients and colleagues who were guest speakers, and joining CEO, John Haley, for dinner.

What do you like best about working at Willis Towers Watson?

The people I work with, my clients, the diversity of my role and the autonomy my manager provides me are the best aspects of working at Willis Towers Watson. Specifically, I enjoy working on varied projects spanning industries including Aerospace, Health Care, Dairy, Power and Energy, Irrigation, Manufacturing, Forestry, and Infrastructure. I enjoy learning each organization’s risk profile, supply chain, the risks inherent within each project — and then breaking it all down to create a bespoke service that is tailored. I enjoy being in a position to create value in the process.

Was there anything that surprised you about your role or the company?

The best part about working at Willis Towers Watson is the fact that I learn something new every day from inspiring leaders, colleagues and clients. This team spirit is the foundation of our success.

What is your hope for your career in the future?

I have only worked in New Zealand, so in the future I would like to work overseas to experience other cultures and nationalities. I would also like to eventually make a transition and work in other sectors of the business.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone considering employment with Willis Towers Watson?

It’s a great place to work, filled with unlimited potential for learning and development. In New Zealand, I find there is plenty of support from managers and peers.

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