Javier Oroz is emphatic that without a great team, nothing can be accomplished. And the current chief risk officer and general secretary at AXA Mexico has the hardware to back up his philosophy. His team was deemed the 2020 “Best In-House Litigation Team” for Latin America by Lexology and the Association of Corporate Counsel and was also recognized by the Legal 500 for its performance as one of the best teams in the country.
Oroz himself has been recognized several times in the past half-decade, including a “General Counsel of the Year” award by the Latin America Corporate Counsel Association, a “Corporate Social Responsibility Lawyer of the Year” award by Chambers and Partners, and several nominations from the most respected international legal associations.
Together, Oroz and his team have helped global insurance firm AXA stay at the top of its game—no matter what has come their way.
Oroz came to AXA after a short period with ING, where he served first as a legal manager and later as legal coordinator and deputy legal director. At twenty-five, Oroz became the youngest legal manager at the company. He was appointed as the head of litigation at twenty-nine after ING was purchased by AXA, and by the time he was thirty-one, Oroz was AXA’s youngest general counsel.
Over the years, Oroz has become so versatile in different aspects of the law, and of the company in general, that AXA has conferred different roles on him. In addition to transforming the company’s compliance program, through which Oroz has encouraged AXA lawyers to take on this relevant career path (anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, and anti-corruption), Oroz has taken on new responsibilities in his role as chief risk officer (CRO) and general secretary. In this role, the attorney is in charge of the legal department, customer complaints, crisis leadership, internal control, and compliance.
Oroz had held this position for just five months when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In his years dealing with challenging situations, the chief risk officer has seen a lot. But this pandemic, he says, is the toughest he’s seen. Typically, Oroz explains, crises last for a few hours, or maybe a couple of days. This pandemic, on the other hand, has already lasted for months, and there is no expectation of it stopping any time soon.
Thankfully, Oroz and his team were more than up to the task of meeting this challenge. “We were very ready as a team to quickly respond to this crisis,” Oroz notes. “The first time we started to meet about this crisis was in January , when the crisis was just rising in Asia. When the crisis came to Europe, especially Italy and Spain, we started to increase the rate and intensity of the sessions of the crisis committee.
“So when the pandemic first arrived in Mexico,” he continues, “we were already in our best shape. Three weeks before we reached phase three of the crisis in Mexico, we were ready to protect our employees by sending them home and protect our customers by helping as many people as possible reach a healthcare professional.”
“Three weeks before we reached phase three of the crisis in Mexico, we were ready to protect our employees . . . and protect our customers.”
AXA has been delivering telemedicine throughout the pandemic so that insureds and employees do not have to leave their homes, Oroz says, and many customers have also been pursuing telehealth options for appointments.
While these technologies and strategies have been critical to providing care throughout the pandemic, Oroz still hopes to see more profound changes to the healthcare landscape in future.
“Mexico has very low insurance penetration,” Oroz says. “People with insurance have been able to go to private hospitals, but people without insurance go to public hospitals, and public hospitals have been very crowded.” True resilience to healthcare crises, Oroz explains, is achieved through healthcare insurance, which is why he hopes to see the nation’s insurance penetration rate increase in the days following this pandemic.
Resilience has also been critical to the success of Oroz’s team in leading through this unique crisis. A resilient team, the CRO explains, boasts a positive attitude and has a disciplined approach to dealing with the situation—and also includes team members with an array of different skills and backgrounds.
“You need to have a strong team,” Oroz emphasizes. “You need to have advisors. You need to have experts. This is not a one-man show.”
The Legacy Spirit
When Javier Oroz elected to pursue law, he left behind a family legacy dedicated to the agriculture and cattle business. He is now reconnecting with his roots through a family project—a burgeoning enterprise centered on bacanora “Santo Cuviso,” an agave-based spirit (mezcal type) that originated in his home state of Sonora in northwestern Mexico. According to Oroz, the project allows him to pay tribute to a long legacy of agave culture in both Sonora and Mexico.
Adame Gonzalez de Castilla & Besil (AGB) and its Partners congratulates Javier on his impressive career and dedication to the practice of Insurance law. Our Law Firm has had the honor of assisting AXA Seguros under Javier’s leadership and we look forward to keep accompanying Javier in his constant achievements. www.agb.mx