I was brought up in a little town called Whitby on the North East coast of UK. Whitby traditionally has always been a big part of UK fishing industry which means the maternal side of my family is made up of generations of fishermen. My grandad, Red Ned as he was known, was a big part of the community and I like to think I carry a lot of his work ethic within me today. Getting up at 2am in the morning to head of out in to the North Sea was not easy work!
I have a wife and two children (9 and 12), all of whom keep me busy outside of work and I also volunteer every weekend in the football season as the Head Coach for a local U10’s football team.
I’m lucky in my role because I get to work with people globally, both within INSTANDA and with external clients and partners. This of course means my days can be very varied. My main focus is to strategically grow the Life and Health business within INSTANDA across EMEA and North America.
Prior to working at INSTANDA I was at Aviva UK for 15 years. I started by working at Aviva part-time whilst studying for my undergraduate degree before being accepted on to the Aviva graduate program. I then spent time in many different roles and ended up becoming an Aviva strategic trouble shooter which generally meant working out strategic problems and then executing against them. This always meant digital transformation which led me to INSTANDA.
I always knew I was more attracted to professional services as an industry and this was reflected in my choice to study management studies and psychology as a joint honours degree at University. Like many people I ended up in the industry by luck when a recruitment agency got me a role in a newly formed Aviva claims department in York. Everything led from here really.
I’d served my purpose at Aviva over 15 years and started to look at what next, I was looking for something in the Insuretech scene after spending a lot of time in this area and I was really impressed with what I’d seen of INSTANDA. I had conversations about what I thought I could bring to the table with Tim and Derek and happy to say there was a good meeting of minds. Alongside this I’d been working with smaller businesses a lot within the UK and like the way they operate vs. larger organisations, so INSTANDA was a really good fit.
The level of emotion you feel from making decisions. In an organisation of INSTANDA’s size it’s important to be making the right decisions so when the big ones come along it puts additional pressure on to you and really connects you to the company.
I’ve been with INSTANDA since January 2021. It started off as just me and one other team member and as I began to prove out the opportunity in the Life and Health insurance market I built up different parts of the team and with that came a career step up in to the Director role which was a reflection of the work done and progress made.
The biggest project at Aviva was building a new digital workplace pension product for small and medium sized businesses in UK as part of the new Auto-enrolment duties that came in to the UK, so a big regulatory change. When I left Aviva this part of the business had built up over £1bn of assets under management, I expect this number will have doubled or tripled since then.
I think the most important is being a change agent. The size and lifecycle of the company means being comfortable with change on a regular basis is really important to progress the business as a whole.
Meeting and speaking to new people all over the world. I get to meet so many different people with different personalities and priorities, it is actually a lot of fun – especially now we can do more face to face. I get to learn a lot about different cultures too, for example, I knew very little about load shedding in South Africa but have a much bigger appreciation of it now. It also lets me transport thinking and propositions to different countries which is really satisfying when you are speaking to clients who are maybe not as advanced in their thinking as others.
It’s a really inclusive culture which makes every individual feel valued and accepted by the company. We have a multitude of people with differing backgrounds which means INSTANDA is very reflective of how modern societies operate. It brings different perspectives in to debates and allows innovation to flourish.
I used to meet most new starters in INSTANDA but the companies growth means this is more of a challenge now. The key thing for me which I advocate to anybody coming in to INSTANDA is to get your hands on the platform and learn how it works. It only takes a couple of sessions with the training team and then you have a great understanding of what INSTANDA is offering to the market and how INSTANDA is trying to change the insurance industry for the better.
At this moment in my life, I am running my kids around to do different things, cricket, football, performing arts, swimming, friends parties or trying to find an InPost locker for a Vinted item my daughter has sold!
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