A belief in the value of team work has been the driver behind Martin Fortier’s achievements.
What’s your story?
I’m a Canadian insurance executive and actuary with extensive global experience. In addition to Canada, I worked in various parts of Asia for over 12 years, advising on and managing the strategic development and profitable growth of emerging businesses. I’m known for my business mindset combined with strong financial discipline and sound risk management practices.
My most recent roles include General Manager for Financial Affairs, Chief Actuary, Chief Risk Officer, Chief Financial Management Officer, Chief Product Actuary, as well as Treasurer & Head of Capital Planning. I’m also experienced with Boards, as an executive and as a Board member.
What excites you most about your industry?
I’m excited by the amazing growth opportunity to help more people protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as achieve financial security. With an extensive product development background, I’m always excited about meeting people’s needs in new innovative ways. Too many people still don’t have insurance and are leaving themselves and their loved ones vulnerable and financially exposed.
What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I think my drive for personal growth, development and achievement is at the core. This leads me to do things differently and look for ways to improve. I’m also passionate about leading teams to new heights and developing people to bring long-term value to organizations and helping these companies achieve their purpose.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
My most useful skills are all around leadership and people management. Having the ability to align large and diverse teams to execute on strategic objectives, while managing change and adapting to various business environments and cultures, has been critical to my success. In addition, coaching and developing future leaders has been highly rewarding and always part of the legacy I’m proud of leaving behind when ready to move on to my next challenge.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Your success should be measured by that of your team. This has shaped my management style of supporting and developing people, and let success come through my team’s contribution without the need for having a big ego. I always look for ways to make my people successful and give them visibility. I don’t need personal fame and believe my contribution will get recognized through that of the team I’m guiding, coaching and supporting.
Who inspires you?
Kind and thoughtful leaders who don’t have big egos and know how to bring people together for a common purpose. At the opposite end of the spectrum, self-centered leaders and bullies equally inspired me for what not to be and not to do. While bullying can give a short-term edge, I believe kind leadership wins and prevails in the long term. I’m also much more self-aware and selective at this point in my career, which leads me to avoid or leave toxic environments and bosses to join healthy and supportive ones that allow me and my team to thrive.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I have been very interested by the recent developments in AI and keep being blown away by what it can achieve. The possibilities seem limitless. I am excited by the amazing potential, but equally frightened by the uncertain future of the next generations for how AI can be misused in so many ways and lead to an impersonal and fake world.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would be more selective about who I work for and avoid ego-centric individuals as they destroy value for organizations, suck your energy and make you waste your time. I would try to avoid or leave toxic environments quicker.
How do you unwind?
Exercise, sports and the outdoor are my refuge to release stress and keep myself physically fit and mentally sane. I like to play hockey (a.k.a., ice hockey, I’m Canadian, remember), badminton, cycling, or just workout at home or the gym. I also started meditating, which helps keeping me centered. Finally, a good glass of wine in good company, in front of a great show or ice hockey game will sure help shift and slow my busy mind.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?
The best plan is to have no definite plan. With the future being so unpredictable, keeping an open mind about my career led to opportunities that I could not have imagined. We have very little control over which opportunities will present themselves, but we can seize and embrace them when they come. This led me to a career in Asia and many roles that I never could have planned for. It gave me extraordinary experiences and allowed me to develop a unique set of skills and knowledge.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The latest book I really enjoyed is “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” by Vishen Lakhiani. It is thought provoking and teaches how to question, challenge, hack and create rules for your life and define success your own way. Reading this book also convinced me to read Lakhiani’s latest book, “The 6 Phase Meditation Method”. Very different from the traditional meditation, the 6 Phase helps get focused, find peace and reach our goals.
Shameless plug for your business or career:
I have a unique set of skills and global experience, combining a business mindset with financial discipline and sound risk management in the insurance sector, asset management and financial services. I can put this knowledge and expertise to help businesses through their Boards or Advisory Boards, as they are looking to grow profitably. I also have Board level know-how through some formal qualifications (i.e., Diploma) in Corporate Governance.
How can people connect with you?
The easiest way to connect is through LinkedIn.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.