Think and Act Global: Sun Life CEO Kevin Strain on Building a Purpose-driven Business

29 November 2023 – Companies need a global perspective to compete not just in the world but in their own markets, Kevin Strain, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sun Life, said Makati Business Club’s closing membership meeting for 2023.

Strain shared how his 5-year term as Sun Life’s Asia head from 2012 to 2017 influenced his leadership philosophy. “Looking at the success of the Philippines was a great model for me in terms of understanding the importance of community and what it meant being tied to a global company,” Strain said.

Strain said it’s a big advantage to have a local CEO who understands the culture, who spoke the language and who was integrated in the business community. Local leadership’s access to the global community is something Strain advises to prioritize which he attempts to replicate in Sun Life despite being a difficult task.

“Historically, we’ve been a company that had technology supporting the business. We are now transitioning to a company where we’re more agile, meaning digital leadership and data is more important,” Strain said. “Sun Life is experimenting with different generative AI solutions [through Amazon Web Services] – increasing both the effectiveness and efficiency of the company.”

Strain urged MBC members to see technology, especially the use of Generative AI as an imperative, and not just an option.

“Sun Life is leveraging digital technology to create deeper relationships and more personalized, frictionless experiences for its clients,” Ambe Tierro, Country Managing Director of Accenture, said during her opening remarks.

“One of our most important pieces is still our footprint in Asia. The Philippines is a core piece in our strategy,” Strain said. “If you look at other major insurance companies in Asia, they get their power from Hong Kong, China and Singapore. For Sun Life, it’s the Philippines.”

MBC’s “Global Leaders” series aims for Philippine executives to meet and learn from world leaders in business, technology, and other fields. The series is the pilot initiative of the Global Ideas Committee, chaired by Ambe Tierro of Accenture Philippines.

To learn more about MBC’s past engagements with global leaders, you can visit MBC’s Global Events Page.