Mark Wilson

CEO, Aviva

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Management Studies

Mark Wilson is CEO of Aviva, a global insurance company operating in 16 countries, which has 34 million customers and more than £400 billion of assets.

Originally from Rotorua, the high-flying Waikato Management School alumnus is ranked number 12 on Bloomberg’s list of the world's best value CEOs, based on pay-for-performance.

In 2015 he led the £6 billion acquisition of Friends Life Group in 2015, which returned Aviva to profit and transformed it into the UK's largest insurance company.

Last year Mark was named as the UK’s 2016 New Zealander of the Year, and he was included in the Sunday Times' list of Britain’s most influential people in finance.

Mark came to the University of Waikato on an economics scholarship in 1985, where he completed a four-year Bachelor of Management Studies degree.

After uni, Mark began his stellar career working for National Mutual in New Zealand, and quickly rose through the ranks of management. This took him to Asia for 14 years, where Mark earned a reputation as a skilful turn-around specialist, bringing financially struggling companies back into the black.

He later become CEO of Asian insurance giant AIA, and is credited with keeping the company afloat during the 2008 financial crisis. "It was the ground zero of the financial crisis. I didn't go home for a fortnight," he told the NZ Herald last year.

"My advice is take charge - and give strong directional leadership. People like structure. Get the right team - and have them focus on the issue - 100%. Above all, do the right thing."

Mark is also a champion for sustainable business and the role of business in society. He is an outspoken advocate of putting the brakes on compensation culture, and tackling Britain's retirement savings inertia.

In 2015, Mark joined 193 political world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York and called for business and government to work together to achieve the UN's sustainable development goals - the only global business leader to have done so.

"I'm in business to have the maximum positive impact on the lives of our customers - and society as a whole," he told the NZ Herald. "Making a profit is a by-product - albeit a very important one - of that core activity."

"But you have to create "social profit" as well as financial profit. So one of our Aviva values is to create legacy. Insurance is a long-term business, making commitments to customers that can last a lifetime."

For his sustained success in international business, Mark was made a recipient of a University of Waikato Distinguished Alumni Award on 31 March, 2017.

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