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Doyen of Namibian short-term insurance, Johan Barnard: Building People, Building Momentum

Doyen of Namibian short-term insurance, Johan Barnard: Building People, Building Momentum

Johan Barnard, Short-term Insurance Chief Executive at Momentum Namibia has one ambitious goal: to make Momentum the preferred underwriter in Namibia.

For a company’s success, Barnard believes that it is intrinsically tied to four aspects: Creativity, Employee development, a leader’s humble nature and Momentum’s ability to put their clients’ needs first.

Growing up as a young boy in Upington on the banks of the Orange river, it was there that his creativity blossomed. As many young boys in an era of no cellphones or tablets as a source of distraction and entertainment, his imagination would serve him well into his adulthood.

“I had an unbelievable childhood, I lived next to the river and played there often. For me that is where my creativity comes from because we had to keep ourselves busy. It was all about playing. I went to bed very tired,” he recalls.

From early on in his career he has put this creativity in everything he does, “I’m a maverick, I like to do things differently… I see myself as a passionate person who tries to be as creative as possible,” explains Barnard. His creative trendsetting ways have been the cornerstone for innovation, and if there is one thing that Momentum prides itself on, it is their ability to be forward thinkers and innovators of their industry, a badge of honour that he recognises and stands by, “we (momentum) are not followers, we like to lead.”

Momentum is the place where leaders are made and Barnard is the kind of leader that creates more leaders. As a Chief Executive he has mentored and seen those under his care rise through the ranks to become executives themselves. “I always want to build a team of leaders. My goal is to see people getting better, to see people grow, not only as business people, not only as insurance people but also as individuals,” he states.

As a leader, his fundamental principle lies in serving others. “If you can’t serve don’t expect anybody to serve you,” he says.

It is a remarkable attribute to have a leader that is of a humble spirit. Barnard constantly serves those around him, the more so those that are under him. He strives to ensure the welfare of those around him, creating an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel embraced, appreciated and fulfilled. “Create an environment around you for people to come to work satisfied, a place where they can flourish, where they can go home and say: that was a great day at the office,” he says.

As he pours his creativity and passion into his work, as he grooms his team and leads them with humility, Barnard also realises that to make his goal a reality, it will be dependant on upholding one crucial principle that Momentum stands upon: Client first!

“The centre of all that we do is our client. Not the managers or the shareholders. We ask ourselves constantly, are we doing more for our clients (policyholders) than for our shareholders?.” The answer must always be Yes, he says. “For us it’s all about client experience, and that is what is key,” he adds.

If there is one thing that Momentum knows how to do, it’s to create a holistic approach, specific to each clients needs. “Client experience means everything to us,” Barnard concludes.

He is confident that with this philosophy at the forefront, there is no doubt that his vision to make Momentum the preferred underwriter in Namibia will materialise.


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The Staff Reporter

The staff reporter is the most senior in-house Economist reporter. This designation is frequently used by the editor for articles submitted by third parties, especially businesses, but which had to be rewritten completely. - Ed.