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Part time working: attaining balance in different areas improves performance in all areas.

For me, part time working boils down to a simple philosophy: attaining balance in different areas improves performance in all areas – Gunnar Peters, CEO Veygo.

So, who am I?  

I’m German, born and raised, and came across the channel before Abitur (German equivalent of A-levels) to experience a new culture and actually learn English (some may question when this will actually start). I met a girl and, after a few years’ long distance, found myself engaged and heading back to the UK to study Maths at Cardiff University. I quickly fell in love with Wales and Cardiff and decided this was where I wanted to settle.

My life in Admiral started as a Pricing Programmer in 2008 and I worked my way up in different functions like New Products, part of large-scale programmes, IT and much more. As you can probably tell by now, I never had a clear vision of what I wanted to do – this continues to the present day. I essentially always wanted to find something that I was good at and then making sure that I like it, not the other way round. My latest adventure is leading Mobility within Admiral Pioneer. I am part of the Admiral Pioneer Leadership team, which is really exciting as we bring the best talent across different industries together to concept and launch new ventures. Mobility is currently synonymous with Veygo, which I have been heading up for nearly a year now. However, Mobility will be broader than Veygo and insurance as we explore electric vehicles, ride sharing, green fleet and mobility as a service. It has its own setup and functional organisation and operates as its own business, which is exciting and we have some very ambitious goals. 

In spring 2017, I made the decision that I wanted to go back to University and do a Msc in Applied Statistics. Admiral was kind enough to support this, even though it meant that I would only be in the office for 4 days a week for most of the year, during exam periods even less so. Between deciding on and starting the Applied Statistics course, I applied for the role of Head of Telematics (also known by many as Black Box Insurance), taking over a team of 20 and the Profit and Loss account responsibilities for the product. My 4-day week was acknowledged and supported throughout the interview process and so I started a new role in the same summer as I went back to school after 10 years of no formal education. The following 2 years taught me that being busier than ever before can be energising! Strangely, the stress of one took away from the pressure of the other. It provided me space away from work and thus perspective.

It also helped my team. They knew when I was not in the office and knew that they did not have to run everything past me. Being in the office 4 days a week provided a weird sense of clarity between us all. Reflecting on this time, I realise that this helped the team feel more empowered. The one day out of the office means that the team had to step up to fill the void on those occasions, which I believe enabled them to have increased exposure in the business and to develop their own abilities while knowing that support was available at the end of the phone if they needed it. Several of my direct reports have themselves been promoted into other roles, which would suggest that this process has helped us all.

Everybody who knows me also knows that I struggle to switch off, my mind is always going, and I work very hard. But I have learned the hard way that just like when you work out in the gym too hard for too long, you need recovery periods to continue to perform at the same level over a long time. A 3-day weekend gives additional recovery time and a chance to recharge to bring more energy to the working week. So, in autumn 2019 I asked to formally go to 4 days, while reducing my hours to 90%. It also means I am more present for my 2 children and can actually be of real help with the childcare duties.

I have now been promoted twice since working a 4-day week and it has had multiple benefits to me, my team and family:

·       I work hard and, whereas I previously worked myself towards burnout when things got tough, now there is an energy buffer that enables me to step up and carry the team in these moments. Working 4 days gives me enough time to recharge and be there, really there, for my team.

·       The extra day also gives me the time to develop myself further. Doing an Msc and creating real space for a coach and mentor to make the most of their valuable input rather than trying to squeeze this in. Having a day off allows time to digest wider reading and previous conversations, allowing space for creative solutions to present themselves in a way that rarely happens in a day packed with meetings.

·       The team has more obvious opportunity to step up: delegation is necessary, not an option. This gives development opportunities and empowers the team. Did I mention that many of my direct reports are succeeding in their careers too?

·       My Children and wife have more quality time with me (mind you, they may see this as a negative)

·       My wife has more freedom because I pick up more of the childcare burden and as a result has taken on additional responsibilities in work.

·       I keep my lightness and unique character for work and home equally, reducing the risk of mood swings.

Admiral have even set up a new initiative to embrace new Ways of Working (WoW) that give even more flexibility in where and how we can work. The idea will be for our business to run in a hybrid working environment with people at home and people in the office at the same time. There will be a lot of testing and learning as we go, but it’s a really exciting project and I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that are made in the future.

If you consider reducing your hours, working different times to others or dropping a day here is some advice from me:

Understand why you want to do it. How will it benefit you, your family, your team, your career? Creating this clarity will help you feel confident enough to ask. There is still a stigma that reducing your hours or the number of days you work means you are not ambitious, you want to step back, you are disengaged, etc. This stigma is likely internal as well as external: challenge the little voice in the back of your mind that doubts what can be achieved by part-timers! But if you understand why you are asking then you can tell a true story, you can ask with conviction and you know how you will measure the success of the change.

If you decide, like me, to drop a day, make sure you drop it fully. No access to work! The team can always reach you on the phone if they truly need something from you, but otherwise, you are off. Do this for a few months as otherwise it is difficult to get the benefit you desire. And make sure you enjoy the day and achieve what you wanted to on that day. For me, it was self-development and doing the school runs to spend time with the kids. What is yours?


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Admiral Life

Our partnership with Disability Sport Wales - Transforming lives through the power of sport

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01/06/2021

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Our partnership with Disability Sport Wales - Together we’re transforming lives through power of sport We’re proud to have renewed our partnership with Disability Sport Wales (DSW), the leading organisation for the development of disability sport in Wales. Our further investment helps give DSW the ability to continue to deliver the successful Admiral Play Together programme across schools in Wales to approximately 1,500 children. Admiral Play Together is creative inclusive learning aimed at primary school pupils in Years 4 to 6. The sessions support and encourage young people to include everyone in their class and school with their play and cover a range of topics related to inclusive sport and disability. We’re so pleased to continue our partnership with Disability Sport Wales on the Admiral Play Together programme. As a company that understands the importance of including everyone and having fun at the same time, we’re impressed by DSW’s approach to educating children on the importance of inclusivity. We look forward to seeing the programme inspire more children across Wales this year. Rhian Langham, Head of People Services. Learning through the pandemic Despite a challenging 2020, the Admiral Play Together programme was able to delight over 1,500 children through face-to-face sessions last year in school across Wales. Following national lockdown, DSW adapted the programme to provide activities for families via social media, continuing to spread the message of community awareness and inclusion. If you have kids in Years 4 to 6 why not have some fun at home today with DSW’s Admiral Play Together guide. There’s more to come While DSW try to reach as many children as possible, they can only visit a limited number of schools in Wales, and some schools can't permit visitors at the moment. However, we’ll be offering colleagues the chance to nominate a school for an Admiral Play Together session. Keep an eye on Atlas news to be able to nominate! We’ll also be offering interactive colleagues disability inclusion training with DSW! 

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Linzi Mullane

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Linzi Mullane

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Linzi Mullane

Admiral Pioneer – Life as a Service Designer

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Admiral Pioneer

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27/05/2021

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We caught up with Riccardo, a Service Designer at Admiral Pioneer whose role is almost as varied as his background. He’s Brazilian by birth, but has lived in both America and Australia, giving him a cultural versatility that has influenced his worldview and work. How did you get into Service Design? I studied Advertising at university, and so I started my career there. Whilst I enjoyed the creative side of it, I felt at times that it was superficial. We would work hard on the communication of a product, only to read comments and reviews that the user experience wasn’t the best it could be. I wanted the ability to work from the inside out to solve problems and improve customer experience, so I decided to go into Service Design. It required me to broaden my experience - I started reading more about Service Design processes, took a few courses and built up my skillset. I then took on more responsibility in my Advertising role, focusing on product design and strategy, eventually taking on a Product Role which built up my tech skills a little more – particularly in terms of understanding APIs and customer information processes. My role at Admiral Pioneer is my first role as a Service Designer, and it’s a fantastic place to start. Not only do I work on launching and building new brands, but I also get the chance to build new products from scratch, which is what I have always wanted to do. It’s a chance to use all my skills to build a brand, communicate it, problem solve and bring it all together through great user experience. What’s it like to be a Service Designer at Admiral Pioneer? Service Design is a really varied role, so every day is different. It depends on the product or project that I’m working on – it could be anything from creating different screens for an app to working collaboratively on different processes with another team – there is always a new challenge to get stuck into. At the moment, I’m focusing on one of our new brands, looking at the customer experience across our digital platforms. I’m working hard on trying to map out all of the possibilities of the customer’s experience and making sure that we cater for them. It’s a case of covering every scenario so that they have the best experience possible! In general, it’s a role that is focused on customer experience, working collaboratively and constantly designing and re-designing our services to optimise that. I would say that service design is not a specific role – it’s based on our customers and what they want, and because of that all kinds of experiences come your way. Why did you decide to work at Admiral Pioneer? The most exciting thing about Pioneer is that we are building things from scratch and can define our culture ourselves. We are not stuck to a specific process or way of working but have the flexibility to figure out what works best for us. We’re making sure that we are collaborative and different, both in what we do but also how we do it. As a team, we’re ‘playing’ together to do something different and making sure our process works for everyone. Nothing is handed down to you – there is real autonomy in what you work on, which makes it a great place to be. At Admiral Pioneer, you really can put your hand up to anything you want to do. I have a background in Brand Strategy, so when there was an opening for that, I was able to get involved, even though it’s probably outside my normal role remit. There is no hierarchy in meetings – your voice is heard no matter who are, and your input is always treated as valuable, which hasn’t always been my experience at other companies. More than anything, the people are great – friendly and open to learning together, which makes for a fantastic team and working environment. How would you define Admiral Pioneer’s culture? It’s definitely the best of both worlds. We have the independence and ability to chase after what we care about, but the Admiral name adds massive amounts of value and gives us the resources, support and structure to do something bigger than we could do on our own. Our whole process is underlined by research – we put a lot of work into understanding trends - what our customers want, what they are interested in and how we can meet those needs. We have a lot of different avenues, and focus on design-thinking, homing in on solving specific problems. It’s a ‘finger on the pulse’ kind of environment, where we are always looking to innovate and improve our product and brands but are also planning for the future through looking at sustainability, health and tech, to keep ourselves relevant. In all of this, there is a high value on experimentation and a test and learn approach, as well as getting feedback as soon as possible. This opens you up to learn more, and I think it’s quite unique. What’s your favourite thing about your role? Admiral Pioneer has given me massive capacity to learn. In every area of my role, I am constantly challenged and able to learn more, and I love that. Working as a Service Designer has given me a real understanding of people and what they like. I love creating a service and then getting the opportunity to see the customers’ feedback right away. Admiral Pioneer allows you the flexibility to make changes accordingly, so it’s exciting and fast-paced every single day. Who would enjoy working at Admiral Pioneer? Someone with a thirst for knowledge coupled with creative flexibility. It’s a talented group of people, and everyone is open to our collaborative mentality and test and learn approach. We’re a close-knit team with genuinely friendly people that support ideas, but above all we relate to each other as people. We’re really open across the board, and it’s a welcoming environment to start in. As you look towards your future in Admiral Pioneer, what are you the most excited about? I have a chance to touch every step of the process, from basic research, launching a brand, growing and developing that brand and creating new products. Getting the opportunity to understand that whole path, from idea creation to a self-sustaining company is hugely valuable. Other than that, it’s the satisfaction of seeing customers happy with products and services I’ve worked hard on.   Click here to view our Admiral Pioneer Vacancies.

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Andrew  Smith

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Andrew Smith

Andrew  Smith

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Andrew Smith