Earlier in his career, Marco Serra left his native Italy for a job interview in London with an insurance broker. His academic command of the English language was strong, but his conversational skills needed work. Chance had it that the interviewer forgot to test his English fluency, which was one of the key requirements of the UK-based role. He got the job.
When he talks about those early days working in London, the topic turns to tomato-and-egg sandwiches.
“I couldn’t order anything else,” he says, laughing. “At the time, it wasn’t funny. I was pretty shy.”
Experience, efficiency, imagination and teamwork – keys to success in insurance
Serra has more than 20 years of broking and underwriting experience in London, Milan and Barcelona. He joined Rome-based ArgoGlobal Assicurazioni S.p.A. as its chief underwriting officer in May 2019. He came from the Navigators Group, Inc., where he served most recently as financial lines manager and strategic distribution partnerships leader for continental Europe.
Serra has worked largely in financial lines for the past decade. In his new role, he is responsible for a wide range of products and lines, a challenge the self-described lover of learning welcomes.
“Insurance is an industry where experience, competence and efficiency are crucial to compete in the market,” he says. “But a bit of imagination and a strong commitment to teamwork are key to success. Mixing all these ingredients is the greatest contribution I can add, in my new role, to make a difference for our clients.”
Insurance career advice: Enjoy the work and be patient
Serra still values the advice he received from his mentor, a senior agent at his first insurance job, who years ago shared his approach for a successful professional life: Enjoy the work and take the time to build and nurture quality relationships with clients.
“He was very relaxed and friendly with clients,” Serra says.
Serra has his own piece of insurance career advice for those just starting out: Be patient.
“When you are impatient, you are creating relationship problems in a way,” he says. “Be patient if you want to build an ongoing success. Take time to consider others’ perspectives. Be empathetic to get to know your partners, your clients and your colleagues, and let them know you too.”
A love of mountains and motorcycles
Serra grew up in Vicenza, in Italy’s northeast. He inherited his love for the mountains from his maternal grandparents, Umberto and Elide “Dede” Conforto, both talented mountain climbers whose skills were bravely sharpened without the benefit of modern-day safety equipment. Serra counts his grandfather as one of his heroes, even though he died when Serra’s mother was 5 years old.
Serra often spent his childhood summer holidays with his grandmother, Nonna Dede, at the family home on the Asiago plateau, where he still enjoys hiking to this day. Several WWI-era fortifications in the area where he climbs have recently been restored.
“You can feel quite a connection with the atrocities which those beautiful places witnessed,” he says.
Before building his career in insurance, Serra served his compulsory military service in the Italian Army, during which he volunteered to become an instructor for new recruits in the Alpine Corps.
When he’s not at the office, Serra enjoys walking or riding his motorcycle in the mountains, which he looks forward to doing more often with the arrival of summer. He particularly loves the Dolomites, recognizing them as “the best landscape in the world.”
“You can spend some time on your own, which is a precious opportunity to collect your thoughts,” he says of the stress relief the mountains provide. “This is one of the things that make me feel good and keep a good balance of life.”
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