Building a success story in Papua New Guinea: Capital Insurance Group


Regional insurer Capital Insurance Group has been growing rapidly as it develops a strong Pacific footprint. Group Chief Executive Officer Keith Land speaks with Business Advantage PNG about the keys to its success.

Credit: Capital Insurance Group

Keith Land was given the task of consolidating Capital Insurance Group (CIG) when the board appointed him to the role of Group CEO 12 months ago.

‘Consolidation is not a word I like, but it captures the essence of what was needed,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.

According to Land, CIG had grown very quickly over the last four of five years in the Pacific islands, particularly in PNG and Fiji, but ‘what hadn’t happened was the building of the infrastructure and the building of the capabilities to support that business.’

When he joined, the regional insurer had 72 staff; now it has 102—and Land deliberately calls them ‘colleagues’ rather than staff.


Since his appointment, the CEO has focussed in four key group areas—people development, financial capability and financial reporting, risk management, and systems enhancement. And he has hired several new managers into group positions to oversee those areas, particularly in human resources, IT and marketing.

‘The culture of the organisation was not in a great shape. People were not particularly empowered.

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‘On the other side of that coin, there wasn’t a huge amount of accountability. There was very little collaboration; it was a very siloed [divisionalised] organisation.’

Pacific spread

The company’s main business is in PNG but the group is also performing well in the other Pacific countries in which it operates.

Keith Land in brief

Land was born in England and has a strong background in insurance. ‘I started working for Royal Insurance Group (RSA) at 20,’ he recalls.

He enjoyed a long tenure at RSA (which became Royal Sun Alliance), leaving Britain in 1996 to go to India. But he then continued his journey. ‘I spent 10 years in Hong Kong running RSA’s Hong Kong business. Then I took on China; we had offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Dalian.’

Land spent one year in Dubai with RSA then went back to Hong Kong to work for Kiln Asia, ‘a Lloyds business out of London, which is now Tokio Marine Kiln.’ When the global financial crisis hit in 2007-08 he found himself ‘kicking up his heels’ and started working for the consultants PwC in New Zealand on post-earthquake issues. He says there were six years of earthquake remediation claims: ‘80,000 land claims to sort out from the Kaikoura earthquake.’

Land describes Papua New Guinea as unique, although he acknowledges that ‘every country is unique from a cultural viewpoint.’

‘About 70 per cent of the top line [revenue] comes out of PNG and about 20 per cent out of Fiji. The remaining 10 per cent is shared between Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga,’ says Land.

‘Tonga had a tough year from Cyclone Gita. But, so far, this year all the operations are making money.’

‘We are capturing our story to inform our future.’

CIG is the largest life insurer and number two in non-life insurance in PNG. It is number three in Vanuatu, number two in Tonga and the Solomon Islands, and number six in Fiji. It is considered one of the ‘big three’ in the Pacific along with QBE Insurance and Tower Insurance.

‘We have a good footprint; we do have positions of influence in each of our markets other than in Fiji. We are strong in Fiji in motor insurance.’

Challenges and future

Land says he is looking to reposition the company’s brand and work on strengthening its reputation.

‘Credibility and confidence are important in this business. There are massive opportunities in PNG and across the Pacific. Infrastructure is challenging, as is getting all the right skill sets.

‘We had six expats when I got here; now we have three. We have hired three new national Group Managers in PNG and appointed a local Fijian to run our Fiji business.’

‘PNG is a very-spread country and most of it is not visible to us in Port Moresby. There are lots of products we could bring and new practices. We would like a larger footprint.’

Land says there is a lot of work being done with people and culture, including offsite meetings. The aim is to ask and answer some key questions about the company’s progress.

‘We have got a wall, about four metres square, in which we now have individual colleagues marking up what is the best thing that has happened in the last 12 months.

‘We are capturing our story to inform our future.’

Possible lessons for your business

    1. When businesses grow quickly it is sometimes necessary to consolidate the organisation in order to develop the appropriate management culture.
    2. In a regional business, managers have to think about what is centralised and what is decentralised.
    3. It is important to develop a business ‘story’ when working on the organisation’s culture.


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