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Diversity in Teams: Leveraging Success for Customers and Employees

Diversity has countless facets and has an impact both within a company as well as in its interaction with third parties. In this actupool interview, Benedikt Balthasar, Principal Consultant at Cominia Aktuarielle Services GmbH, and Senior Consultant Solyman Sahar provide insights into how they define diversity, live it within the company and use it to leverage synergies and generate added value for customers.
Written on 04/12/24

1. Diversity is a wide topic. Which criteria do you use to define it at Cominia? And which are your objectives in that matter?

Solyman Sahar: At Cominia, we view diversity as a broad spectrum of characteristics that make up our employees, including cultural backgrounds, education, experience, skills and individual perspectives. 

I am certain that a diverse team, made up of people with different strengths and skills, is a tremendous asset to our company and our customers. This diversity allows us to foster creative ideas and look at challenges from different angles. In turn, this makes us more flexible, more adaptable and enables us to specifically adjust to the needs of our customers. 

Benedikt Balthasar: Our goal at Cominia is to promote the diversity just described by Solyman. We pursue this goal by attaching great importance to diversity throughout the entire HR management process, from recruitment to deployment planning and ongoing training. I am convinced that this approach makes a major contribution to our dynamic, innovative and successful corporate culture. This is why we are, and will remain, attractive for our customers, our employees and, of course, for applicants. This attractiveness is, both internally and externally, in turn a key building block for long-term success and growth.

2. In your opinion, what is the composition of a well-functioning, diverse team in actuarial consulting? Which hard and soft skills should be developed? 

Benedikt Balthasar: In my view, a successfully diverse team is made up of members with different professional backgrounds and therefore different skills. A wide range of experience in different areas is also an important diversification feature. Ultimately, our customers benefit from the experience we have gained in projects with similar challenges.

Our team is made up of employees with relevant professional experience at primary insurers, software providers and consulting firms. From actuaries and business analysts to project managers, we can fill all key roles. We also have employees who contribute their in-depth knowledge of software development to the creation and further development of reference computers.  

Solyman Sahar: In my opinion, communication skills, teamwork, empathy and intercultural competence are among the most important soft skills in a diverse team in actuarial consulting. Our employees often act as an interface between the specialist area and IT, while also taking on the role of facilitators or moderators. We are able to demonstrate our intercultural competence through assignments in other European countries and at multinational corporations in Germany.

We promote the further development of soft and hard skills through additional qualifications such as training as an actuary, certifications in test and project management and targeted team-building measures. And, of course, skills are constantly being developed through involvement in customer projects.  

3. What effect do diverse teams have on individual employees?

Solyman Sahar: I firmly believe that working in a diverse team has a significant impact on the self-confidence and self-esteem of each individual. On the one hand, I am aware of my unique skills and recognize the value I bring through my contributions to achieving our common goals. On the other hand, I appreciate the opportunity to meetand work with colleagues whose skills and perspectives can complement and expand my own. 

Diversity within a team helps to create an atmosphere that encourages creative ideas and innovative solutions. Recognizing and valuing my own skills also helps to recognize and appreciate the skills and contributions of my colleagues. This mutual recognition is fundamental to the development of a strong team spirit and a harmonious and productive working environment.

4. How can the different experiences of the individual team members be brought in as added value for customers?

Benedikt Balthasar: The broad spectrum of experience and perspectives is used to successfully develop solution strategies for our customers' challenges. Of course, different levels of experience also bring efficiency gains. It is often not the experience of a single person, but the sum of different experiences that brings a project forward efficiently. An example is the ability to be able to call on a sparring partner with a broader perspective when faced with complex challenges. Many people know from experience that explaining a problem to a knowledgeable third party and asking the other person specific questions can quickly clarify the situation.