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Whistle-stop Wednesdays: Why we value potential over experience

Andrew Viazzani heads up our Recruitment department – central to bringing in the thing that makes Admiral a success, our people! 

Read more about Andrew’s career journey so far. 

What do you do in Admiral and how long have you been working here?  

I’m Head of UK Recruitment and I’ve worked in Admiral for 22 years! Why am I still smiling after all this time? Admiral has given me such variety in opportunities which have kept me interested and developing over the years. I started off in Operations, in an entry level service role, answering customer queries. I then got promoted (through a combination of hard work and good fortune) to Senior, Team Manager, Operations Manager and then Department Manager. I also had some stints helping the Operations areas in our European brands, which was very interesting! The second half of my career involved a complete change of direction. The HR Director in Confused.com (a brand of Admiral at the time) was taking some time off and I was asked if I could cover for a few months, which turned out to be three years! Admiral were open minded enough to see that although my background wasn’t in HR, my practical and fair approach, coupled with a good internal network, meant I could learn on the job whilst still delivering what the business wanted. This then led onto me leaving Confused.com, returning to the wider Admiral area, and becoming, at different points, a General Manager, Head of Learning & Development and now, Head of Recruitment!  

Is your educational background directly related to your role? 

I do have an English degree and in my previous role in Banking before joining Admiral, it was needed as an entry point. However, none of my varied roles in Admiral have ever required a degree. They were more interested in your underlying skills and how you might develop in a role going forward.  You’ll find lots of people in the company who haven’t followed a linear career path like myself, and I think that helps managers get a more universal view of the business and stops politics and petty divisions.  

What does your department do for the company overall? And what's the most exciting change or project happening within your area?  

Simply put, my department helps find great people to work for Admiral! Some roles are more technical than others, but one thing we always look out for is a good cultural fit. One of the open secrets of our success as a company has always been fostering a culture where people who like what they do, do it better. This means a lack of hierarchy and not taking yourself too seriously, but it also means working hard and delivering change as a team. No matter how senior you are, managers are always reminded to ‘leave their ego at the door’ each morning. It’s a virtual door at the moment but you know what I mean!  

The most exciting thing going on for us is Admiral’s move to diversify itself over the coming years.  Many new areas have sprung up including Admiral Pioneer, Financial Services (AFSL), Pet, Travel and a number of other products waiting in the wings. It feels great to be part of a company that looks forward to the future and being in Recruitment puts us at the centre of that.   

What do you think makes Admiral a great place to work? How would you describe the culture here? 

I think the variety of career opportunities within Admiral if you want to develop yourself is huge. I started off in a completely different area to the one I’m currently in, which is not an unusual story in the company. There’s a lack of politics and people generally want to help you if they have time. This was a refreshing change to some of the other companies I had worked in previously, where people tended to protect their own little areas at the expense of a broader view of the business. It also helps to have a great team around you – I can see we all help each other, work hard and do the best we can for the company, even if sometimes it’s not strictly in your job description. I can honestly say that without working with people like this over the years I would not have been as successful myself. I know this sounds obvious but sometimes people can forget that.  

Do you have a career-defining moment? 

I have a couple. One was early in my first role talking to customers. Another similar role came up in a new brand in a different city but still part of Admiral. It meant more travel but no extra pay. However, I thought the opportunities for promotion might be better, being new and all that. So I went for it and that’s where I found my first promotion.    

The second was deciding to do something completely different at a point in my career where I was already fairly senior in my operations role. I mulled over the HR opportunity for a while and I remembered a bit of advice from a previous manager – ‘You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind’. So I went for it, and of course I’m glad I did.  
 

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