Quick-fire Q&A with Anton Ossip

Anton studied actuarial science at the University of the Witwatersrand, completing his Bachelor of Economic Science majoring in statistics and actuarial science. He joined as CEO of Discovery Insure in July 2011 and was part of the development of the company since then. During this time the business grew from a startup to establishing itself as a top 10 insurer in South Africa and a leader in the field of telematics-based insurance globally. Anton is a director of the SA Actuarial Development Programme, promoting and funding actuarial science to previously disadvantaged individuals and a director of the South African Insurance Association. He is also a past president of the Insurance Institute of South Africa.

Describe your leadership style
I like to be accessible to all staff at all levels. I believe it’s important to lead by example, if you aren’t prepared to do a particular job, you can’t expect your staff to do it. I believe in empowering staff and giving autonomy to my team. I believe in getting consensus but to be decisive when the need arises. I try push my team to reach their full potential.

Your top tip to beat procrastination?
It helps to have an accountability partner and trust the team you delegate to. Decide each day what you plan on getting done and work through this until it’s complete.

Favourite getaway destination?
Any game park, especially the Kruger National Park

Who or what inspires you?
Hearing about people succeeding against all odds really inspires me. I’m also inspired by technology that finds efficient ways to solve problems, for example the effect Uber and Google have had on our day to day life.

Your one wish for South Africa?
I have many wishes for South Africa. One of the important ones for me is to ensure safety on our roads – there should not be a need for anyone to lose their life on the roads.

If you could have any 3 people that are no longer with us, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve?
My brother Brandon, my mother Sharon and Steve Jobs. I would not serve anything containing broccoli and mushrooms. Thankfully, my wife is an excellent cook.

What five pieces of advice would you give to aspiring young business starters?
• Ensure the right partnerships / investors are in place and values are aligned
• Surround yourself with a team of people who share your vision, can challenge your views and will help you to succeed (e.g. mentors)
• Start somewhere. It’s good to have all the plans in the world but it’s all in vain if you don’t take the plunge
• It is important to position your business to take advantage of opportunities that come up. For example, you can use social media and technology, including artificial intelligence, to enhance your business’ growth
• Ensure you understand the modern day business risks such as cyber-attacks and reputational risk

What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
If I wasn’t an actuary I would have pursued computer programming. Also I’m a big fan of SA music.

What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
Spend more time with my family.