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Real Life chances

Published on Friday, 29 Nov 2013
Shu Khoo
Photo: Gary Mak
A billboard in Central promotes the ambitious AIA rebrand drive.
Photo: AIA

AIA rebranding says who it is and offers staff development opportunities

AIA’s bright red-and-white logo has always been eye-catching, but its identity – and how it stands out from other insurance providers – was less clear. Now the logo is being paired with the phrase “The Real Life Company”, to help tell people what AIA really is about.

The company’s recently launched brand position emphasises its 94-year history and how this helps it understand its customers’ lives and needs. This new positioning is creating many exciting opportunities to work at AIA in roles that allow staff to show their passion and realise their ambitions.

AIA spun off from the American International Group (AIG) in 2010 to become an independent life insurance company covering 17 markets in Asia-Pacific. Following its global IPO in October 2010, company chiefs decided it needed a strategic vision for a new era. As part of this, it was felt that AIA needed a new brand identity. Research showed that while the public knew of AIA, they did not have a strong idea of what the company was like.

“AIA is a well-recognised brand in this part of the world,” says Shu Khoo, group human resources director at AIA. “But through our research, it came out that [while] people know and trust who we are, customers wanted even more of what we stand for … [They] wanted us to reveal more of our identity.”

The result was AIA’s re-branding, launched earlier this year and being progressively rolled out across different markets. “‘The Real Life Company’ brand encapsulates a way of relating to customers,” Khoo says. “It lets our customers know that, with AIA’s rich history and a long experience in this business, we understand what people go through in their real lives. We understand the ups and downs they go through and can partner with them through different stages of their life.”

AIA is looking to take on skilled people in a wide range of positions to help it deliver this kind of distinctive service to customers. It wants employees who are passionate about connecting with customers and helping to support them in their lives. “AIA is differentiating itself in the market as a company which deeply understands its customers and values a long-term relationship with them,” Khoo says. “So in this context we need people who are truly energised and excited about wanting to make a difference.”

Following the launch of the new brand position, Khoo says AIA has been on the lookout for frontline staff who really love working with people and are excited about finding new and better ways to understand and serve customers. “On the frontline side, for our sales distribution channels, we are constantly looking for good people who love the frontline role,” says Khoo. “To find good quality recruits who can represent the AIA brand is always a challenge.”

The company also has a strong need to recruit people to work on technological innovations such as developing new digital tools to help them better connect with customers. Khoo says they are currently putting together a new team to work in this area. “We need people who are able to support the company in the latest technology and in developing the latest apps and programmes that we can use to support customers,” she says. “We want people at the cutting edge of technology providing innovative solutions and in the digital space.”

Khoo expects AIA will still need to recruit people to work in these different areas in the future. “We’re confident that our business will continue to grow, and innovative solutions for our customers will need to evolve,” she says. “We’ve constantly got to keep up and differentiate ourselves.”

The new brand position helps make AIA an attractive company to work for in a number of ways, Khoo says. Firstly, it sets AIA apart from other companies in terms of the type of service it is providing to customers, by offering staff the chance to be more people-orientated in their work.

“If you’re interested in a people-focused business, and you want to be differentiated in terms of providing customer service, then AIA is the company for you,” Khoo says.

She adds that the emphasis the new brand position places on understanding and supporting customers’ lives helps to make employees’ roles feel more meaningful and rewarding.

The new positioning also means that AIA really supports employees’ growth, Khoo adds. Just as it relates to customers and supports them at different stages of their lives, it also aims to understand its employees’ lives and foster their individual ambitions.


Shu Khoo describes AIA’s “70/20/10 approach” to  learning

On the job training  “Seventy per cent of everyone’s development is on the job because we believe that is where you learn the most. You really embed your skills and hone a certain expertise.”
“Twenty per cent is exposure through contact with other senior leaders. One aspect is coaching and mentoring, which we strongly encourage. We have a very strong mentoring programme. Even the group chief executive participates. He has mentees, and every member of the executive team has taken on mentees.”

Classroom learning  “Ten per cent is classroom learning, which is still necessary. We have a core curriculum to develop our people, especially managers, called the AIA Manager Series. When we recruit someone, we believe they are a strong performer, but more important is how they are supported in order to be successful within AIA.”

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