Carlo Anthony Palcon, head of UAE administration at Pacific Prime Middle East, speaks to Health & Protection about how he started out as a nurse but fell through a swinging door into the broker industry, why his CEO is his mentor, why his best competitor is himself, his days as the drummer in a punk band and his better understanding of life via ‘Check it Out’.
How long have you been in the international health/benefits advice industry and why did you start working in it?
I relocated to Dubai over ten years ago and as I am a licensed nurse in the Philippines, I was looking for an opportunity in Dubai… however, like most people in the industry, I fell into insurance, initially working in the administration department of Pacific Prime Middle East.
How long have you been with your present firm and which markets does your company do business in?
I’ve been with Pacific Prime for over nine years now. As mentioned, I took an entry level role in the admin team, and over the years, have been promoted a few times. I am the head of the actual department that I originally joined all those years ago.
Our UAE offices takes care of our clients in the Middle East and Africa region, but, we have more than14 offices globally (UAE, UK, USA, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, China and Hong Kong to name some) but we operate as one P&L. We are an IPMI and corporate employee benefits broker.
What is the biggest factor affecting the international health and benefits space for you and your firm?
Ensuring clients understand the industry, how claims and utilisation impact premiums and why choosing the most cost-effective plan will only ever be a short-term fix.
Who has been your most important mentor throughout your career?
This is the longest I’ve been on a job so, I guess, my CEO – David Hayes. He taught me everything I need to know about insurance and even sometimes… lessons in life.
I’ve been working with him for a long time, and it’s a roller coaster ride. He helped me grow as a person and I think through the years, we’ve earned a lot of respect for each other both personally and professionally.
What advice would you give people thinking about working in the international health and benefits sector?
No one leaves school or college and says it is their dream to work in the insurance industry. However, once you are in……you will never leave.
I love the industry, you will always have a career, it is constantly evolving, every day brings new challenges and solutions and no day is the same.
You are always learning and no one knows everything, the industry is constantly changing.
The learning curve can be quite steep, but if you want to be good at your role, you need to persevere and the rewards are there.
Sliding doors moment, I could have been in a medical facility working as a nurse, but I am delighted I made a different choice all those years ago.
What has been your greatest success at work?
Working and developing the members of my department and watching them grow over the years has given me a lot of happiness.
I am constantly working to ensure we have the right culture within the team, and we are a “team” while also making sure we are hitting our KPIs, and I think I have gotten it right most of the time.
I am still quite young but I think I have got a mature head on my shoulders, and I tend to step back and evaluate before I make any rash decisions. That comes from the experience I have gained over the years.
What are your top three priorities for the next year?
To take more care of my physical and mental wellbeing.
To keep having healthy relationships with people.
To continue to improve and be better personally and professionally.
What is one personal skill that most people do not know about?
I can play the drums. I used to be in a pop-punk band. Maybe not on the same level where I used to be, but I bet I could still play.
What mantra do you live by?
“Your best competitor is yourself.”
For me, competition should be about chasing your own unrealised potential.
Comparing yourself to others makes you focus on their strengths and abilities to try and beat them. Instead, when you are focused on your own strengths and abilities – you’ll always be on your way towards reaching the best version of yourself.
If you could work in any location in the world, what would it be?
Anywhere, really. As long as the weather is nice. Not too hot or not too cold. LA, perhaps?
What song would you regard as your theme tune?
That would be “Check It Out” by John Mellencamp. It’s all about what we’ve learned about living.
Palcon is based Dubai which is where Health & Protection will be hosting its first Health & Protection Middle East IPMI Conference on 28 February at the exclusive Address SkyView Hotel in Dubai, UAE.
The conference will bring together key senior figures from the major health insurance adviser and broker firms to identify, debate and assess the future direction of the industry.
It will examine how Middle East international health insurance markets have responded to evolving global mobility patterns, developments in medical coverage and how client demands have changed.