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What does it take to be a great leader? - Henry Engelhardt (CEO Emeritus)

We often hear how Henry Engelhardt, Founder and CEO emeritus, has inspired many people: both inside and outside the Admiral Group - whether that is from working with him closely, or from simply hearing one of his many memorable speeches. So, we wanted to share a small insight from a recent talk he gave at INSEAD in May 2020. 

"Admiral is moving into the future. Next year, Milena Mondini, will take up the reins of Admiral when she becomes CEO. It will be the first time in our history that we won’t be run by one of our founders. As we transition to this new era, we are looking for the next generation of leaders, business builders, and managers. We need people who are bright, hungry, intelligent, and decent. That’s why we keep coming back to recruit MBAs from some of the best business schools in the world. Milena needs the strongest people she can find to take Admiral to the next level. There are no barriers to what Admiral can achieve. There are no blinkers on what businesses we achieve it in.

For those of you, who see Admiral as an Insurance company, I say: that's what we mostly do now. But the future? Who knows?

We’re looking for people who can be great leaders, managers, business people, and people. We don’t really care what industry you’ve come from. In fact, in many regards, knowing little or nothing about insurance can be an advantage.    

Whatever your experience, we’re looking for people who can take nothing and make something; we’re looking for people who make teams better; we’re looking for people who can inspire and motivate those around them; we’re looking for people who can grow into being great leaders. Why not you?

So, what does it take to be a great leader and manager?

One – make great decisions. This involves gathering and interrogating data.  Two different skills, both very important. It involves teamwork – the buck stops with all of us, not any single individual. The team, the team, the team. And, ultimately, it involves decisiveness. To make a great decision you must make a decision!

Two – be great with people. This means understanding some of our simple philosophies, like "If people like what they do, they’ll do it better" – so we go out of our way to create a culture where people really like their jobs. It means understanding how important you are to the people you manage. Understanding how important little things, like saying good morning or goodnight, are. It means being a great communicator.  

Three – be creative. This means you have to do things differently to succeed.  Something has to be different; either the offer to your customers, your product design, the way you manage the process, the way you get more energy from your people…something. Great managers are very creative: they push others to see opportunities and ideas that would normally get buried in a corporation. 

If you can be great at those three things you can be a great leader. But there’s no formula.  It’s not a recipe. If it was, we’d all just read it and become great leaders. It takes a lot of hard work. A lot of thought. And there is one special ingredient that is different in everyone’s recipe: you. We’re all different from each other and that means we all bring something special to the party.  

I went to a good high school and did well, but not top of my class. I went to a good but not exclusive university. Again, I did well, but not top of my class. A few years later, I completed my MBA at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools. I didn’t make the Dean’s List. What I’m trying to say is that I am not, by any means, extraordinary. So, if I can achieve what I’ve achieved, so can you!" 

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Admiral Life

MBA Mentoring Support at Admiral

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24/07/2020

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When we recruit MBAs we are looking for a handful of special individuals who are seeking a personalised experience that will give them the opportunities, challenges and freedom to explore. We believe mentoring should not but one set program, but it should be tailored to the needs of each individual that works with us. MBAs have the autonomy to make an impact and we are here to support you in an environment where you will ultimately be making the decisions in the projects you work on.Simon (INSEAD 2010) joined Admiral in 2019 on the Future Leaders Program. We spoke to him about the mentoring support he received as an experienced MBA through his first year before recently stepping into his new role as CFO of Admiral Pioneer. Mentoring support"I joined the Future Leaders Program with several years of post-MBA experience, so in my first few months, the main thing for me was to focus on doing my job well and not be micromanaged by an overbearing mentoring system. Marisja (Head of International Business Development and Investor Relations) did an incredible job tailoring her management style to my situation as someone who completed their MBA a few years before joining Admiral.What I needed, was support on very specific things, like help to unblock a particular issue, or just to bounce ideas off. I felt like it was very much led by me." I got all the support I needed, and none that I didn’t. And that was good. Simon Flynn Experience working with the CEO “In terms of learning from the CEO, it was one of the things I experienced in the first six months. David (Group CEO) had been invited to a meeting by an external company that wanted to partner with us, and he asked me to join him as he knew I was interested in this area.We went to the car park and jumped in his car and, whilst I was navigating on Google Maps, he drove us to this meeting about half an hour away. That was a really good experience - I was very impressed that even as a fairly new MBA employee at Admiral, I was on the CEO’s radar. The meeting itself was another fantastic opportunity to learn alongside the CEO. I don't know of many places where that happens quite so easily.” Feedback and progression  “As I was coming towards my one-year anniversary, I reached out to seven or eight leaders in the business to get some feedback. This included David (Group CEO) and Cristina (UK CEO), who agreed it had been a very successful year. I wanted to have an open chat about how I might make the next year even better and where I might be best placed to work in the future. I always found people very available for that kind of conversation, which I think is hugely valuable.” Support and a personalized experience  At Admiral, it is up to you make your own career, but you will be supported in an individualised way to make it happen. Simon Flynn "This is one thing that really does distinguish Admiral from other MBA programs: we think about the individual and tailor the experience to each person. That is different from some of the big consulting firms, where the programs are very set. Here, there's an option to say “You know what, I would love to go to Spain for a year to learn about claims!” for example.I have received a truly tailored experience; in my case, I didn't want any international projects, because I've spent so much time overseas in my career already. So, my preference was to stay in the UK, and that was listened to from the start, even going back to the recruitment process.All in all, I can thoroughly recommend the Future Leaders Program – both if you’re a recent MBA, but also if you have several years of post-MBA experience like me. It’s tailored to you and will allow you to build your own career path from the start."

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Connie Hogg

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Simon (INSEAD 2010) Shares his First Impressions as an MBA at Admiral

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From the moment I started, I was really impressed by the people. Simon Flynn (INSEAD 2010) It was two aspects: firstly, people's genuine commitment to the company, which was almost universal and is very impressive. Secondly, the welcoming and friendly style really struck me. Once I was about six months in, I noticed that there's a lot of expertise in the business, which you wouldn't necessarily notice when you first meet people, because everybody is quite informal and so friendly.One thing that was reinforced when I joined as an International Business Development Manager is how intrapreneurial and multifaceted the role is. What I mean by intrapreneurial is that, after your first couple of mini-projects, it’s up to you to express what you want and own and drive your career journey and the projects you take on.The projects are not like a clean piece of homework where someone says we need a 10-page report in a month and here's all the information you need. It’s a lot messier than that; for example, you may be presented with a problem that we're trying to solve as a business, but that we don’t really understand yet. Or, you may need to speak to some people, but you may need to be sensitive because this used to be their project. You need a very wide range of skills - from emotional sensitivity to influencing to negotiation to the actual content of the work itself. I think this is one of the most exciting things about the role and why I say it’s entrepreneurial: you’ve got to be quick on your feet and thoughtful about taking a really tailored approach to each project.Admiral is a company based on a flat structure where you need to be respectful of everyone’s time. You can't assume that because you've got a project that happens to come from the CEO that you're going to be able to get a date in the diary immediately with everyone you need to speak to. I think that's one of the fascinating things about the role, and I think that's part of what distinguishes it from working somewhere else.  The role really rewards people who are willing and able to build their own career journey by developing their own relationships and working well with a variety of people. Simon Flynn (INSEAD 2010) Although Admiral is based in Cardiff with a very strong Welsh heritage as a company, it's got a very inclusive culture. One of the things that makes it the kind of place that people come and stay to work for a long time, is that they don't have to pretend to be someone else. The reality is that people from Spain, Italy, and France, as well as many other places, are working in senior positions across the Group, which is just one of the indications of its inclusive culture.Overall, my first impressions of both the role and company have been extremely positive and I'm looking forward to continuing to build on my career at Admiral as the new CFO of Admiral Pioneer.

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Simon (INSEAD 2010) Shares his First Impressions as an MBA at Admiral

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Connie  Hogg

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Connie Hogg

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