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Why MBAs should consider a career in insurance

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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Admiral Life

Adrian's Admiral journey on the Future Leaders Program

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MBA

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Blog

** DEFAULT postresults.publishdate - en-GB **

05/05/2021

Summary

Adrian joined Admiral in 2015 as a Business Development Manager on the Future Leaders Program (FLP) after completing his MBA at Warwick Business School in the UK.  Tell us a bit about your first projects? In my first year I completed four or five projects (two-three months each) across all areas of the business. I also did a project at conte.it (our Italian insurance operation) for two months exploring a new app and looking at the kind of features customers would use. I came in with a fresh pair of eyes to analyse what we currently do, what we could be doing, and to provide strategic recommendations. I also worked on a project assessing the viability of expanding into life insurance. I was both directly and indirectly managing teams running tests. Putting numbers behind those strategic projects was key. We tested hypotheses around distribution channels and dug into the economics behind it all. This allowed me to learn more about insurance in general as well as life insurance more specifically. Did you have any prior insurance experience? Not at all. When I joined Admiral I had no knowledge about insurance. I came in, in a very high-profile position, and was advising stakeholders with upwards of 20 years of experience in the industry. That was an interesting challenge in stakeholder management and humility. I had to be willing to learn every day. In particular, I learned the value of spending time with teams across the business, to understand exactly what they do before I proposed recommendations. What made you choose Admiral? Firstly, the job itself appealed greatly to me. I wanted to put into practice all that I learned doing the MBA and the FLP offered this. I was looking for a strategic role and I found it with Admiral. However, the decisive factor for me was the culture. I had read many company manifestos with bold claims about their culture. But what was special to me about Admiral was how this culture really came to life. It impacts every area of the business. The way the Future Leaders Program combines a management consulting position with a sustainable work-life balance and strong company culture gives you the best of both worlds. It’s something quite unique that I don’t think many other places can offer. How did you find moving to Cardiff for the role? Although the role was more important than the location for me, Cardiff was a great fit. I was married and looking to start a family, and the city is very well-suited to young families. It’s compact enough to get around quickly and I was happy to avoid lengthy commutes and rush hour traffic. It's also a very international city and I’ve been impressed with the number of cultural events, bars, restaurants and entertainment on offer! What advice would you give to MBAs applying to Admiral? I think it’s important to come with an open mind, determination and a readiness to learn from those around the business. It’s natural, coming from the MBA, to want everything to happen fast. But having patience in those initial stages of learning and developing a network means you’ll be able to deliver even more insightful and stronger results.  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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Kat Gil Mast

Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Alberto Schiavon – SPARK program to CEO of Elephant Insurance

Teaser

MBA

Content Type

Blog

** DEFAULT postresults.publishdate - en-GB **

20/04/2021

Summary

After graduating as a civil engineer in 2007, Alberto worked in engineering in Luxembourg and for a hedge fund in London, before pursuing his MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School. He joined Admiral in 2012 as an International Pricing Manager on the SPARK program and is now CEO of Elephant.com, our US operation.  What attracted you to Admiral? During the MBA I had the opportunity to do a project with Admiral. With a team of MBAs, we explored whether Admiral should expand into home insurance. It was a fascinating project during which I worked with some very intelligent and interesting people. The more I learned about the company and, in particular, about the people, the more I was intrigued.  Honestly, I wasn’t completely sure about insurance back then. But the culture and the people stood out as something special. When I saw the SPARK program, I felt that my analytical skills would be a good fit for the International Pricing Manager role, so I applied and got the job.   How did you find the International Pricing Manager role?   I was the first ever International Pricing Manager to join Admiral. Part of the fun, therefore, was having the chance to really shape the way the role looked. I influenced the responsibilities of the International Pricing Manager position and helped decide where best to add value to the business. Having an impact on the bottom line was important to me and I felt incredibly lucky to join such a collaborative and open-minded team that helped me do this. I was positively surprised by the level of interaction with the wider business. Understanding the core competencies of Admiral was key and I was able to do this when I joined, with the level of exposure that came with the role. It was a great place to start my Admiral career and I didn’t once look back.   Where did your career take you from International Pricing? After a few years in International Pricing, having worked on some interesting projects with other areas of the business, I felt ready to broaden my scope. So, I applied for a role that would really stretch me: Head of Renewals. I knew very little about operations management and had never held responsibility for such a large number of people, but I was up for the challenge! Thanks to the skills I had gained as an International Pricing Manager, I got the job. It was hugely educational. During my time as Head of Renewals I really learned the power of diversity. Bringing together talented individuals with varied strengths created a high-performing team and exciting results. I loved having the chance to add value with the decisions that I made. We worked very hard and had a lot of fun. After that I moved to Sales, which presented new challenges again, along with a healthy dose of Admiral fun. I was able to learn from some very strong people managers in the business about how to drive performance and take teams from strength to strength.   I then flew to the US with our founder Henry Engelhardt, who was the interim CEO of our American operations, Elephant. I gained so much from the exposure to his management style and leadership ability. In November 2017, when Henry stepped down from the role, I was well-positioned to step-up and become CEO of Elephant, which I have been ever since. How did the SPARK program equip for you a CEO position? In the International Pricing team, and in Pricing generally, there is a very high degree of precision. It is all about evidence-based decisions. The intellectual rigour that I developed during my time as an International Pricing Manager was incredibly powerful and has helped me in every role since.    Additionally, pricing remains one of our key competitive advantages as a business. Understanding exactly how it works gave me a strong edge as a leader and has helped me make good, data-informed decisions.  How did you find the US compared to the UK? I think the Admiral culture translates well internationally. Of course, it is lived and interpreted in slightly different ways, but the principles of teamwork, collaboration, and continually striving for strong results remain consistent across our operations. One difference I noticed when moving to the US was the way in which Elephant is still, comparatively young. While Admiral still operates in a very agile way, our US operations have even more pressure to prove themselves in the market, at a fast pace. This element of adrenaline has been incredibly energising for me as CEO. What has been your biggest learning curve since joining Admiral? The biggest learning curve for me was understanding the US market. I am Italian and lived in the UK for a long time, so was naïve enough to think I could grasp cultural differences with ease. I imagined that the American market would not be too dissimilar to the UK and European markets, and that customer attitudes would be alike. But I was wrong. I learned and experienced how the American consumer behaves and how this was unique to the market. It took me some years to truly understand how Elephant can be successful in this environment. What advice would you give to MBAs joining Admiral? Be humble. There is a lot of talent in the business and people with different backgrounds who bring unique lessons to the table, often things that cannot be taught at an MBA class. I discovered the importance of coming to work with open eyes and seeking diverse points of view and have seen the strong results that come from this collaboration. In many ways, some of the most profound learning begins after the MBA, once you step back into the workplace. 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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Joelle Evans

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Joelle Evans

Joelle Evans

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Joelle Evans