When the leader of Sompo International’s Global Risk Solutions business describes a key stop on his path to the C-suite, he mentions the possibility that race and age were a hurdle in passing.

Executive Summary

Michael Chang, CEO of Sompo's Global Risk Solutions (GRS), talks about his personal experiences climbing to an executive position in an industry where few other Black men are visible on the top of company org charts. The help of a sponsor and will to win were part of his success story, he said, noting the inequities of a friends-and-family industry culture that keep other promising executives from attaining leadership roles in spite of their efforts and abilities to drive good results.

“Look, there were a lot of people that felt at that point, ‘Who is this young kid?’ and many companies tended to be very conservative [and were doing] everything by a certain book—the way they thought it should be done. And my race and age may have been a factor,” Michael Chang, now the CEO of GRS and co-leader of Global Insurance-Sompo International, told Carrier Management, recalling a prior point in his career when he finally got approval to launch a new business after having the idea shot down two times before.

“Despite successfully running books of business and having built strong relationships with the broker community and clients early on in my career, when I looked to take the reins and further expand those books, I was often met with resistance as I don’t believe I fit their executive profile—from age to color to my business approach. However, each ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ only reinforced my commitment to succeed.”

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