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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

Day in the life of our International Pricing Director.

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MBA

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12/08/2020

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Peter Marissen is our International Pricing Director. He lives with his wife and 2 children in Cardiff, where his guitar collection is growing. Peter tells us more about what his average day at work involves... "Usually, my day doesn’t start off well. It’s 6am, I’m fast asleep, and a little person jumps onto the bed.Emily: Papa, I can’t sleep anymore. Me: Try. Just close your eyes. Emily: I can’t. Can I have the iPad? Me: It’s a school day. We don’t do iPads on school days. Emily: Your phone then? Me: No Emily: Mama’s phone? Me: Sleep. Please sleep.I’m not a morning person, but Emily is 6 and Harry is 3, so there is no more sleep until I leave just before 8am to do the school run. What should be a 10-minute drive takes about 30 minutes in start-stop traffic. Having the “B-I-N-G-O the dog” song on repeat in the background doesn’t make the trip feel any shorter. At drop-off I try to keep calm amongst many screaming kids until the school doors open, then I re-join the traffic jam, and with luck, I’ll make it to the office for around 9.I usually have a small bite to eat while I start up my computer. Something tasteless but virtuous, now that I’ve had my health check. They insisted on a lengthy discussion about my diet and guess what, it turns out that a bacon roll every morning may not be a great idea. So, I have cut back to once a week (ish), and on most days I end up stirring oats into my organic yoghurt. Lovely.I joined Admiral in February 1999, in the Pricing department, on the assumption that it would be a useful experience for a couple of years. I know I’m not the only one where this got out of hand a bit. At the time, the Pricing team consisted of only 5 people, which was fine as it was motor only, phone only and UK only. When, 10 years later, we looked at launching in Spain, I helped set up their Pricing and stayed involved as Balumba grew over the years. The same happened when the other non-UK operations launched, and at one point we decided that an International Pricing team could help with quality control of rate changes, communicating new Pricing ideas across the group, and training.In International Pricing we spend most of our time working with the various Pricing Teams in the group. There are always several pricing changes from our different operations that the team and I are looking at. Some are simple and require no more than a quick email, others can be time-consuming and need a fair bit of work. Communication at a distance can sometimes be a challenge, but having “Hangouts” is a great help, especially now that we are moving more towards group-wide projects and changes.The team is divided into three sub-departments: Analytics, Cross-product, and the Nursery. Analytics and Cross-product are important and growing areas that take a lot of my time. Analytics is producing some good results as we do a lot of work with the various operations and use our Data Scientists to produce models for them and at the same time each country is developing their own analytics capabilities as well.In terms of people, the nursery makes up the biggest proportion of the team. I shouldn’t say nursery, it has recently been renamed, by majority vote, into something that no-one can remember (International Analyst Development Programme, I think). The name hasn’t really taken off, despite the “No More Nursery” jar, which requires payment of 20p for every mention of the word nursery. I am a regular contributor. Anyway, in the nursery IADP, we recruit math-graduates from universities close to our non-UK operations, who spend a year or so in the team learning how to do Pricing, and then go back to hit the ground running. It makes for quite an international team and I enjoy that aspect of it.When I get home the kids are usually in the bath or getting ready for bed. Bedtime is always fun, although also chaotic, for which I invariable get the blame, perhaps with some justification.Evenings are short. There’s time for dinner, emails, and there’s always the temptation to do a few other things. But I don’t, because I know what’s going to happen at 6am tomorrow morning…"

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Connie  Hogg

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Connie Hogg

Connie  Hogg

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Connie Hogg

Why MBAs should reconsider a career in insurance

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MBA

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05/08/2020

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Sheli Miller (Bocconi 2015), International Pricing Manager, gave us her honest review of what we know everyone thinks when you say “insurance”. Sheli shares how that first thought, and a little research, has taken her down a career path she never thought “insurance” could provide."When I initially saw the advert for the Admiral MBA internship, I honestly didn’t consider it. It’s insurance, right? So, I assumed it wouldn’t be something that would interest me. A couple of weeks later I was speaking to an alum, and she said:‘Don’t dismiss anything! Don’t look at the field or the company - look at the job and what you will actually be doing.’I went back over the job ads and re-read Admiral’s and something clicked. I thought actually, I can do this, I would enjoy that, and that sounds amazing. At the end of the advert it said, ‘we also look for a sense of humor’, and I thought: ok, this is different! I started researching the company, and really liked everything I saw. I read about the company, the employees, the culture, the strategic opportunities, and challenges of the industry – one where you can really make a difference. All that, plus the job description, and Admiral became my first choice. Sheli Miller I sat down and wrote a cover letter of why I thought I was suitable. I was invited to an interview, which was followed up with a personal email to invite me through to the final stage video interview with senior managers. It’s now my 5-year anniversary with Admiral since joining on that summer internship!It was an amazing experience; I really enjoyed the company and the work, and I got to do things I wasn’t expecting. We did lots of networking events and ports of calls around the company. I really loved it and really hoped I could come back. On the very last day of my internship, I had an interview with David Stevens (Admiral Group CEO) for the full-time position of Business Development Manager (Future Leaders Program), and after a further video interview and completing my MBA I re-joined Admiral.After about a year Claire-Anne Coriat, who was at that point the Head of the MBA Program, suggested I try Pricing. I knew what Pricing did, but I had no idea what International Pricing Managers (IPMs) did. So, I spoke with Amit Chandra, who is a friend and an experienced IPM at Admiral, to help give me an idea of the role. I joined as an IPM initially for a 6-month trial, and then joined as a permanent IPM, in which time I have seen so much growth and change in this area.Each country in the Admiral Group has its own pricing department, and International Pricing initially started as a way to share pricing knowledge and expertise around the Group. Over time it’s also become about coordinating between our different countries. A Pricing Manager is usually very technical and International Pricing Managers bring a lot of experience from other industries and backgrounds. The IPM role requires both these aspects along with the ability to think commercially, take ownership of projects, and think strategically.One of my favorite projects really shows how you need to pull all these skills together; it was actually about windscreen claims. In the UK we barely look at them, because they account for such a tiny percentage of the loss ratio. But in some of our other countries, they account for as much as 5% of the loss ratio. I was asked to find out why!I had to speak to Pricing people in all our different countries, as well as Claims people to really understand how the claims are handled and what the commercial arrangements are. It turned out there were so many different factors driving the difference between the UK and our international operations, for example, the lower premiums in other countries affects the proportion of the windscreen claims. Some countries were also much better at handling windscreen claims from an operational perspective, so we learned a lot. This was a very analytical project, but also required talking to and working with many different people. The combination of these skills is what makes an IPM successful. Sheli Miller I never would have thought going into insurance could be so interesting, but my career to date with Admiral has given me great exposure to a variety of strategic projects and it's great having the autonomy to make decisions and drive your own career path. I would definitely recommend the MBA internship as well as the Future Leaders Program to any MBAs considering their next career move."

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Sheli Miller (Bocconi 2015), International Pricing Manager, gave us her honest review of what we know everyone thinks when you say “insurance”.

Read on
Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

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