We caught up with Helen, who was worked at Admiral for over twenty years, to hear about her internal progression and career story.
Tell me about your Admiral journey?
I started at Admiral when I was 19, in 1999. It is where I have grown up, had a family and been lucky enough to forge out a fantastic career. I began in a sales role, full-time, and fell pregnant with my first child shortly after passing my probation. Admiral were flexible, and I was able to work the hours that suited me, balancing work with caring for my daughter. Shortly after my second child was born, a Senior Sales Executive opportunity came up. It was difficult to know what would be best for my family and taking on more responsibility felt daunting. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was able to step in to help me with the kids, so I went for it. I got the role and came back full-time. I went on to become a Team Manager in Outbound Sales and did that role for several years before deciding it was time to find a new challenge. In total I worked in a customer facing role for 16 years!
In 2015, after deciding I needed a change and opportunity, I applied for an Ancillaries Manager role. Not only did I think that it was the challenge I needed, but I also thought it would be something I enjoyed. I did all the preparation I could – I was in the office at the weekends practising my presentations. I honestly gave every spare minute that I had to the process, and I refused to fail. It was bold, but it worked. I suppose I wanted the job so much that I made sure I got it. I became a manager, and I was able to build a Product Team, which I really enjoyed. There was a great energy in the team, and it was a big change after being in the contact centres for so long. I then moved to another department, into a similar managerial role. This was another fantastic opportunity where I was able to further improve my knowledge of Product Management and build another Product Team, who helped to improve a lot of Telematics processes and products for the benefit of our customers and Admiral.
When the existing Head of Telematics moved on, I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could apply for that role. In the end, I did not get it, but I was promoted to Deputy Head of Telematics. I performed the role for a year, again developing the team, until eventually they did not need me anymore, so I knew it was time to move on. I put feelers out for a new role, meeting up with people from many areas of Admiral, which meant I found a completely different opportunity. I have now been working in Online as a Lead Product Owner since July 2018, liaising between the business and IT, making sure that everyone is happy and that we are implementing products that best serve our customers. It is great fun, completely hectic, but so rewarding and fantastic.
You could say I have been on a journey since I first started here, but I love that. I have never had to look elsewhere for an exciting challenge, I have been able to find that within Admiral every single time I have looked to progress.
What has been the biggest challenge?
In the early days, without a doubt it would be juggling family and work, because that is not easy. I am so thankful for my mother-in-law, who gave so much of her time so that I did not have to pay crazy childcare costs and could return to work. But I have still struggled with working mothers’ guilt – it has rarely been me who has had to rush to school to pick up my kids when they are sick, and as much as I love that I have the freedom to pursue my career, it still is not always easy.
Leaving the call centres was also a big challenge. It is such a great environment, and I made some lifelong friends. I remember that on my first day working in Ancillaries, I could not get over the silence – the call centre is always buzzing. That said, I adjusted fast, and I love the autonomy you are given with your work in the support side of the business, as I think you really have the space to work outside of the box.
What would your advice be to someone looking to pursue new opportunities within Admiral?
The range of opportunities at Admiral is incredible. If you start looking, you will find something. Change can be scary, and although we are great at it at Admiral, it is still not the easiest thing in the world. The first three months can be hard, and you feel like you are learning a completely different language, as the teams and departments can be so different. Ultimately though, making changes is so worth it, and it gives you a chance to have a lifelong and varied career – I have never regretted a change I have made to my role.
Initially, I would recommend reaching out to the Internal Careers Office to get the ball rolling. There are lots of schemes going at Admiral, which is a risk-free way of figuring out what is out there, and gives you access to lots of support along the way. Make the most of port of call’s – they are so unique to Admiral’s culture, and they never get turned down. It is a great way to understand different areas of the business more and understand where your skills fit.
Do not rule yourself out. I left school with no degree, and I learnt my trade from the bottom up. If you work hard, it does not matter, particularly at Admiral where the most important thing is that you are prepared to learn.
What is your favourite thing about working at Admiral?
I think it is that equality is not just a word around here. There really is no difference in how you are treated as a man or as a woman. If you are best for the job, you will get it, and it does not matter what gender you are.
What personal qualities do you think have aided your success in building a long-term career at Admiral?
I think it starts with being switched on, working hard to learn quickly, and not being afraid to ask questions to do that. I used to run around with a notebook in my hand and ask my manager questions whenever I could – clarifying definitions and terminology. As I have matured, I feel comfortable enough to ask those questions on the spot. Learning how to take the answer, learn it, apply it, and not ask the same question again is a real skill, and worth developing. I would encourage people to keep an open mind, be prepared to learn, and cultivate a thirst for knowledge.