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Marion’s Story - from Journalism to Head of Household at L’olivier

A new industry

I 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 through

After 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 preconceptions

To 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 grow

Admiral 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.


You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply on our website. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on Linkedin to get valuable insights into the company and culture.

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Admiral Life

Maurizio, Head of Loans at ConTe.it, tells us why he chose Admiral

Teaser

MBA

Content Type

Blog

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22/02/2021

Summary

Maurizio (INSEAD 2017) joined Admiral in 2017 and is now Head of Loans in ConTe.it. We caught up with him to find out what he was looking for in his career and why he chose Admiral. "Admiral stood out to me because it was founded by two INSEAD MBAs, which really resonated with me as an INSEAD student myself. I was excited by the Future Leaders Program and the blend of internal consulting, accountability and potential for growth that the program offered. I started talking to people in the company and soon realised that Admiral also has a very unique culture.   There were two main things that matched my post-MBA career expectations that convinced me to join Admiral over other alternatives: The first was growth. I wanted to be in a growing company, which would provide constant new opportunities and projects. It was especially exciting to see how the company’s growth was driven by people – putting customers and employees first. The second was accountability. Admiral gives MBAs visibility and responsibility from day one. This was an important factor for me. There are many, well-paid MBA jobs where you don’t step up in terms of responsibility and project scope. I wasn’t only after a salary rise: I wanted to have an impact and establish a long-term career, too. One of my favourite things about the role is the opportunity to do something meaningful. My job is meaningful to the business, to our customers and to me. For anyone considering a career in Admiral, you need to ask yourself what do you really want? We are not one of the biggest companies out there and, as an insurance company, we don’t claim to be one of the coolest - but we’re far from boring!  We are different in the way we work and there are so many opportunities to explore and drive your career with us. Most importantly, we trust and empower our people giving them real ownership and accountability. Where do you see your career in three to five years? Do you want accountability and ownership in a growing environment? If so, this is the program that will offer you that. Other firms may also be great companies to work for, but if you look at the actual program and the role you’ll be doing, you are entering an arena with hundreds of other MBAs all at the same level as you, which means you’ll have fewer possibilities of having an impact and driving change. Admiral only recruits a handful of carefully selected people. When I joined, I did not feel like just another number. I have been with Admiral for 3 years and have taken on some fantastic roles, which have led me to my current role as Head of Loans in Conte, our Italian operation. I’m excited by our long-term vision to innovate within the personal lending market in Italy. We’re looking to create something fully digital, fast and customer centred. Ultimately, my reason for joining Admiral came down to the question of whether I wanted just another name on my resume, or if I wanted real opportunities. I have worked directly with CEOs and key leaders around the business, gaining valuable experience while Admiral invested in me. I had the chance to build things from scratch, with the backing of a FTSE 100, international business." You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply on our website. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on LinkedIn to get valuable insights into the company and culture. 

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Ownership, freedom and flexibility: Ignacio’s journey on the Future Leaders Program in Spain

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MBA

Content Type

Blog

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07/12/2020

Summary

Admiral career to-date I joined Admiral on the Future Leaders Program in the Spanish operations in 2016, after completing my MBA at INSEAD. Although my focus was Spain, I also worked on some projects for our Italian operations. With time, I began to take on more operational responsibilities beyond the project management and consulting-based work on the Future Leaders Program. I started working on a project developing a new distribution channel using brokers. I spent time understanding the broker channel and preparing an entire strategy for the product launch. Things went well and it now drives a lot of growth in Spain. I also worked with the Corporate Governance team from 2018 to late 2020, which was completely new to me, as my background is in mechanical engineering. At the end of 2019, I changed roles to lead the Loss Ratio area (Pricing, Analytics & Data) in Spain. A long-term career path Before joining Admiral, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do but no fixed plan per se. Contrary to the quite rigid expectations in many consulting firms, the future of my career with Admiral was very open, which was both exciting and worrying at the same time. The Future Leaders Program is a transitory program, which prepares you to move into a more general management role. The role you move into depends on your location, your skills, and the opportunities that arise within the business. This openness and flexibility is one of the most attractive characteristics of the program. Since joining Admiral, I've been involved in some very different things. I haven't been restricted to one single area of the business and with each move forward in the company, I have gained additional ownership and accountability. Why Admiral I already had other offers from big-name companies before I even heard about Admiral. I had no intention of considering an alternative. But that all changed when I met people from the Admiral Group and started speaking to them. Firstly, I became interested in the industry which, although it did not look very attractive to me from the outside,  became fascinating once I started to understand its complexity and how the different areas involved in it have to coordinate very smoothly. Secondly, I was interested in the possibility of progressing into a general management role. I knew that I wanted to be a manager and was eager to see where my skills could fit at Admiral to make this happen. I wanted to have ownership and P&L responsibilities after my MBA and the position at Admiral allowed me this.   Finally, the management and the company culture won me over.  There’s a lot of autonomy and people are given challenges and trusted to deliver results, in order to make things happen. This was very attractive for someone with ambition and the drive to create a successful career for themselves.  Autonomy to deliver on your own projects One of the most exciting and challenging projects that I’ve been given to date was the development of our broker channel. Not only was it complex, but it was also vast. I was aware of the impact of this project. It’s now one of our main growth drivers in Spain, which is exciting as I have been able to work on it from inception. Through this project I was able to gain expertise and skills, move around the country, and work with diverse teams across the business - from legal to commercial and pricing. This project is the perfect example of why I joined Admiral. I was trusted by Sarah, our Spanish CEO, and the director team. They asked me to make it happen. I had the support and backing from the senior managers but was given the autonomy to learn for myself and deliver something successful. This ownership and freedom given to me is one of my favourite things about the role. Advice to MBAs considering Admiral I think it is important to take a step back and think of your long-term goals. Where do you want to be in 10 years? Ask questions, speak to as many people as you can. Find out where you could fit in with the future of the company.  Working in lockdown This year has been intense. We have worked long hours and realised the challenges of working from home. But it's been a success. Together we have all faced many of the same trials, both professionally and personally. We have learned a lot and can now operate 100% remotely in our Spanish operation. We have seen a complete shift in the way our days are structured, and we have embraced new ways of working and managing teams. I don’t think we have ever worked as smartly as we are today.   You can find out more about the journeys our MBAs have taken here or read more about our MBA Leadership Programs. Alternatively, follow our MBA Leadership page on Linkedin.

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Kat Gil Mast

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