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Rochade at Ergo: Kokkalas becomes the new head of Germany - Kassow joins Munich Re

Everything is bobbing comfortably towards Christmas, when Munich Re and Ergo are turning the staff wheel again. Theodoros Kokkalas (55) will be the successor to May 1, 2020 Achim Kassow (53) as CEO of Ergo Germany. He moves to the parent company Munich Re and becomes a board member with a wide range of responsibilities. He is not the first ergo manager to switch to the reinsurer.

The Munich Re Supervisory Board succeeded Kassow on May 1, 2020 Hermann Pohlchristoph (54) appointed. The outgoing reinsurance manager will not extend his mandate, which expires on April 30, 2020, for personal reasons and will leave the company after 17 years. His successor, Kassow, will be responsible for the Asia Pacific and Africa board division as well as for the central procurement and services departments.

Does Munich Re benefit from the “Ergo Kaderschmiede?”

Kassow is not the first ergo manager to switch to the parent company. In January 2019, the former head of ergo finance joined the company Christoph Jurecka in the footsteps of Jörg Schneider, long-serving CFO of Munich Re. The physicist and engineering graduate, who was appointed CFO of Düsseldorf Ergo at the age of 36, is above all reliable. At the Munich reinsurer, the master of numbers is more of a manager than a designer. His desk is rather recognizable by the “creative chaos and the photo of his son”, he is supposed to have said.

Another example: Andree Moschner, Chairman of the Management Board at asset manager MEAG since November 1, 2019, is also a member of the Ergo Group Management Board, responsible for financial products, strategic asset allocation and strategic marketing. Moschner has retained his role at Ergo to this day.

An external / internal solution at Ergo Germany

Theodoros Kokkalas will fill the vacancy at Ergo Deutschland as the new head of Germany. He is rather unknown in this country, which is why the appointment is surprising. But the Greek, CEO of Ergo in Greece since 2004 and a member of the board of directors of the Indian HDFC Ergo since 2018, is internationally trained and speaks fluent German and English. He completed his studies at the universities in Piraeus and Athens, at INSEAD in France and at Leibniz University in Hanover. It was learned from company-related circles that many Ergo employees in this country prefer an in-house solution.

His new boss Markus Riess, CEO of the Ergo Group, praised both the old and the new German boss: “I would like to thank Achim Kassow for the very good cooperation over the past few years. He implemented the Ergo strategy program in Germany with rigor and consistency and made it a success. We are back on our growth path and I congratulate him on his appointment to the Munich Re Board of Management. At the same time, I am pleased that with Theo Kokkalas we have been able to win the right successor within the Ergo Group for the demanding task in the home market of Germany. "

That a successor was needed at all has not been felt in the recent past. At the DKM, Kassow passionately emphasized the importance of the mediator and in the current edition of the Insurance industryhe spoke long and broad about the importance of efficient IT structures. There was no sign of official fatigue, not even when he recently called for a reform of the Riester pension. All yesterday's news, from now on Kassow's problem areas are Munich Re's business in Africa and Asia, no longer intermediaries or old-age provision.

Kassow apparently has Opportunity seized

Apparently the staff rogue was not planned long in advance. It is rumored that Kassow saw the opportunity that arose with the withdrawal of Pohlchristoph and quickly seized it. He will take on an exciting job, because Munich Re and the reinsurance market are on the move. His decision in favor of Munich finally set the personnel stone rolling.

To what extent Kokkalas, who is internationally well-versed but inexperienced in the German insurance business, will solve the difficult task at Ergo remains to be seen. Despite the recent good numbers, the company is in the process of restructuring, which is not an easy situation for a new manager. Perhaps the perspective of a newcomer to the German insurance market will also help to approach some things differently and better.

Nothing in the history of life is more constant than change, once said Charles Darwin, Ergo and Munich Re are proof of this. We wish Messrs Kokkalas and Kassow the best of luck in their new roles.

Author: Maximilian Volz