New thinker from Munich

HDI Group ,
Start-up founder Sebastian Dominguez had nothing to do with insurance for a long time. That was a good thing, according to the HDI Global branch in Munich. That's exactly the kind of perspective the sales team had been lacking.

With his foot on the gas and an idea in his head, Sebastian Dominguez once toured Chile in a camper. He passed places that no one had visited for a long time. Sometimes he shimmied from one petrol station to another. But he was not travelling as a tourist. The young civil engineer was looking for a source of mineral water. To buy it. And to earn money by bottling the water.

Crazy, some would say. A business model, thought Sebastian Dominguez. "It sounded pretty good to me." It took nine months to find and ramp up the project. When he was done, he handed it over to his business partners and returned to Munich, where he had previously studied.

On the way to becoming a founder

It was the first company that Sebastian Dominguez helped to get on the road to success. And it gave him a taste for it. "I was very impressed by how quickly we made decisions back then," he says. "I learned a lot about business development. I wanted to expand on that." He sat down in the lecture hall again. At the Technical University of Munich, he enrolled in an Executive MBA and learned a lot about innovations, markets and successful companies.

And because he is a practical man, it didn't stop there. Together with fellow students, he founded his own company: CAALA. The start-up offers architects and real estate companies software that allows them to project how windows and heating systems, for example, will affect energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building before it is constructed or renovated. He built up a team, collected millions in funding, won venture capitalists, steered the company as managing director for four years - and then quit.

"How can you make more of what you have?"

Today, Sebastian Dominguez works for HDI Global SE in the Munich branch. And of course the first question that comes to mind is: Why? His answer says a lot - about him and HDI. "It was always my desire to get to know a large, international company better, to experience a shared global perspective and to help shape the digital transformation as an intrapreneur," says Sebastian Dominguez. However, other factors also played a role: for one thing, his longing to spend more time with his young daughter, despite all his creativity and creative energy, was great. "As a founder, I sometimes worked over 100 hours a week. At some point you have to say: if I want to spend time with my family, then I have to change that." And secondly, HDI made it easy for him. Because the job they offered him in Munich was entirely to the young entrepreneur's liking.

Fits perfectly

He joined one and a half years ago as Sales Innovation Manager. This new function was created by Robert Jurkin, Head of Corporate Clients at the Munich branch. "In discussions with our clients, we sensed that many of them are dealing with the same questions," he says. "They are looking for new products and markets, they are developing agile structures, they are questioning entire business models and are positioning themselves digitally." Until now, his team consisted of insurance professionals, some with decades of expertise. What was missing, however, was someone who thinks like a company founder. Because he is a company founder himself. Someone like Sebastian Dominguez.

"He knows exactly what makes young and agile companies tick," Robert Jurkin says about him. "We need these skills and strengths in shaping new digital solutions on the ground. Also because we want to change ourselves." In the job interview, Sebastian Dominguez immediately impressed with some ideas on how he would like to move HDI Global's sales forward. He speaks several languages fluently: his father comes from Chile, his mother from Switzerland. He lived in Uruguay for 17 years. The verdict after the interview: he's a perfect fit.

HDI brings customers together

In the meantime, the 35-year-old has become an integral part of the sales team, which is intended to help companies successfully realise their ideas and plans as early as the development phase of new and innovative business models - in keeping with the Talanx Purpose. And it works like this: a customer actually operates combined heat and power plants and came up with the idea of setting up a shrimp farm next to the plant. The space and the necessary heat were there. What was missing was access to the market. And that's where Sebastian Dominguez came in. "HDI has a very good network of companies from different sectors. We bring them together." In this case, he arranged for a partner to provide the necessary certification for food. HDI brought in the expertise of their risk engineers for the new production facility and insured the newly established company.

"The nice thing about my job is that together with the companies, in addition to risk and claims management, we can also take a closer look at strategic and innovative developments," says Sebastian Dominguez. "This allows us to maintain significantly more contact with our customers, be on top of changes at an early stage and thus actively accompany the companies in their digital transformation."