A new industryI joined Admiral on the Future Leaders Program in February 2017 following my MBA at INSEAD. I come from a very different background, having worked as a journalist for eight years before completing my MBA. It was difficult to realise that I had worked long and hard for a career that wasn’t my true passion. I was passionate about growing business and bringing out the best in people. I needed a change of career and that's why I decided to do an MBA.
I began in L’olivier, the French operation in Paris. When I arrived, the head of the consulting team gave me an A4 sheet with a few bullet points about self-service (a digital customer portal) and told me “Okay, this is your subject for the next six months. I want you to look at it and do a business plan”. I had never done a business plan, having never worked in a traditional company before. But I was trusted with a challenge and dove straight in.
My first three months were spent understanding self-service, and what it could look like for us. To define what was good for the business I needed to understand what L’olivier was about. So, I spoke to as many people as possible. This was easy as people were approachable at every level, taking time to talk to me and answer my questions.
From inception to implementation – seeing a project throughAfter a few months in the French operation, I knew that it was a good fit for me. The feedback on my work was positive and I was excited about what I was creating through my project. I delivered my business plan and was able to be the one to implement my own ideas.
After five months I was asked to build a team. I had never hired anyone and didn't know how to do it. But I learnt on the go. I was able to familiarise myself with people management, budgets and all that came with leading a team. I worked on the creation of this new customer self-service portal for eighteen months. Then, the project evolved into a product and my small project team became a permanent team.
With self-service came automation. As well as customer centricity, this required a focus on process optimization and productivity. So, I built another team, which worked on automation and new technology.
Automation affects everyone around the business, so we work with operations, finance, accounting, pricing, marketing, claims… It’s important to have the same mindset across the business and this cross-functional work means I am constantly learning.
A culture that challenged preconceptionsTo be 100% honest, I hadn’t considered working at Admiral before my MBA. I didn't even own a car and didn’t understand insurance.
When I decided to do my MBA, I assumed I would return to the media world. But during my time at INSEAD I got talking with people outside of the media world. That's when I discovered how many other industries were flourishing, transforming and in which people felt excited and involved in the future direction of the business.
I received an email from the recruitment team at Admiral to say they had spotted my CV. I didn’t quite understand why at first, although I discovered that Admiral’s founder Henry Engelhardt himself had trained as a journalist, maybe that was my chance! This was not a company that looked for previous expertise in the industry. I was invited to speak with Marisja Kocznur (Head of Business Development) and with Henry himself. They caught my attention straight away. I was really seduced by the projects and the culture. What you see is what you get, it's very straightforward. I could see that if you give a 100%, if you do well, then you are rewarded.
That same day, Henry presented to our class and it was clear that Admiral had a strong culture. I loved that. It was all about the people, treating employees well and making good business decisions. It was a nice change from the presentations of other big corporates that I found a bit flashy and less authentic. I could see that Admiral was a company in which people cared for each other and allowed room for mistakes, provided that you took ownership. It fitted well with my values.
A place to growAdmiral is a company that allows you to grow, that feeds you with challenges all the time, and that also allows you to make mistakes and learn from it, which is rare. You are developed quickly into a leadership role with real leadership challenges. It’s impressive to see the journeys of MBAs that have joined Admiral and stayed for years. I think it’s thanks to the autonomy and career progression on offer.
I was surprised by the close contact I had with executives, senior management and CEOs.. My work was important to our senior managers and they were genuinely interested. I wasn’t just a number and I know that I was recruited for who I am and what I can bring to the table.
When I talk to my MBA friends, they all see how happy I am. I know I made the right decision with Admiral. I have an exciting and successful career, but I also have a life. I swim almost every day, I go to the theatre, and have time for friends. For me this is really important.
Unlike companies that hire hundreds of MBAs a year, I was one of very few. When Admiral chooses you, it’s because they want to invest in you, they see you as a future leader of the business. It's a completely different experience compared to many other MBAs, who end up spending a few years at a company only as a springboard for the position they really want. At Admiral you can have that position from the start.