Tavish Srivastava joined Admiral in January 2021 as a Business Development Manager on the Future Leaders Program after completing his MBA at INSEAD.
Tell us about your background
I am a data enthusiast and most of my career choices are dominated by my passion for data and technology. I spent most of my career developing analytics strategies and delivering AI products for financial services companies. While working in the exciting field of data and analytics, I realised I would greatly benefit if I understood business functions other than analytics a little better and develop on my people skills to be a better leader. Doing an MBA looked like the next logical step.
My MBA experience was not a ‘normal’ one due to COVID and unfortunately, we had many companies pull out of recruiting events. My highly selective criterion on an aspirational role post-MBA didn’t help either. I was looking for a strategy role in a UK based firm that uses data extensively to build competitive advantage. Most importantly, I wanted to report to someone in the senior executive team so that I could work on the most important business problems, have a good level of autonomy, and receive mentoring to carve out a strong career in the firm. I was very lucky to find Admiral’s MBA program; it checked all my boxes and was a great fit!
How did you find Admiral? What made you want to apply?
I attended one of the corporate presentations at INSEAD and it was very impressive. I didn’t realise how much there was to insurance. I was quite inspired by Henry Engelhardt’s (founder of Admiral and former INSEAD MBA) passion for insurance and his take on leadership. Something he said just clicked – how many products do you know that can be priced differently for each customer and is mandatory by law for customer to buy it. Finally, the proposal of directly reporting to Milena, Group CEO, was a great opportunity.
I originally applied for an internship at Admiral, but sadly did not succeed. This still did not push me off track. I kept on talking to people within Admiral, researching on the company and applied for the full-time role. I did a lot of research before I applied. It was very important for me to find a personal and professional fit, so I talked to many people at Admiral before joining this program. I was quite impressed by the amount of time senior leaders were giving me even before I applied for the role. I remember a discussion with a senior leader who said Admiral is a very unique company that can take a leap of faith in your capability and gives you a role which even you think is a stretch goal for yourself. But again, and again these people exceeded expectations and grow more than what they ever imagined. I just synced with the ideology and saw myself clearly working happily with these people.
How did you find the recruitment process?
I felt the interviews were more like a conversation rather than feeling I was being assessed. The interview process pushed me beyond my preparations and there was a clear feedback loop after each round. It was like a mini development program; it was fast and in-depth. The interviewers take a lot of interest in you and to have such senior leaders invest time in you makes you feel like you’re already part of the team. The process was quite different from a typical consulting interview – it’s much more fast paced, and you’re pushed to bring out your true self. The case studies are very interesting as they are very much related to the actual problems Admiral might have tackled in past or are battling now. I felt more prepared to join Admiral after the interview process than at the beginning as I understood the culture better and the kind of projects I would be working with
How have you found the program so far and when did you receive your first project?
The program has given me a very diverse experience and a strong foundation to build a long-term career path for myself. It started with a comprehensive induction, which was super helpful as I got to build my network straight away. After two months I was assigned a project on customer centricity. This project had such a long-lasting effect on me as I straight away understood what really mattered for our customers and how important being customer centric is for Admiral. The project was an extension to the MBA – you get a broad problem to solve, you scope out the problem well so that you can deliver it in a short timeline of three months, you prioritise what data is most useful for you to understand the problem, design the solution and then you get feedback from leaders while influencing them along your recommendations.
We also have frequent catch ups with the Business Development (BDM) team. In terms of projects in general, we tend to work independently. This benefits us all, as when we come together, we talk about all the important strategic projects that are going around across the organization in depth, and everyone share a different perspective on each other’s project. I personally find these connects very useful.
Can you tell me about other projects you have worked on?
My experience has been slightly different to others on the program. For the first 7 months I worked as a Business Development Manager on the Future Leaders Program, and then completed a six-month secondment at our Spanish business. After this, I returned to the Future Leaders Program. This is an example of how much flexibility there is within the program. If you find something which is interesting to you, you’ll have the opportunity to explore this further.
Some of my projects include leading Group digital transformation, known as Admiral 2.0, evaluating cross sell proposition for Admiral Money, building data strategy for Spain, creating EU entity wide data academy, and putting together a year-end investor relation presentation.
How much contact do you have with our Group CEO Milena Mondini?
This is one of the key benefits of the program. We have a weekly meeting with Milena, where we usually do a round robin with the wider BDM team. Beforehand we usually decide whether there is something in particular we want to address. Milena has a good understanding of what the entire team is working on. If you need more input from her, you can also set up a 1-2-1 call with her. We also get to make project pitches to Milena once a month to try and get her sponsorship on self-initiated projects.
How much support do you get whilst on the Future Leaders Program?
There is a lot of support available, however it is very self-driven. It is not structured in a way where you have someone specific to support you on a project, but everyone is very open and helpful - you can reach out to anyone from around the business to support you as needed.
Three months into my job, I had to do a Group wide assessment of how each entity is doing on Admiral 2.0 i.e., becoming customer centric, agile, and digital, data and tech first. This included three EU operations, US operations, UK Insurance, Admiral Money and Admiral Pioneer. I was initially overwhelmed by the nature and magnitude of work. I chose to get three mentors, all of whom were in top positions at Admiral. Out of their busy schedules, they did not miss a single weekly catch up with me. These catchups greatly accelerated my learning, helped me prepare for unknown risks and got me connected to the right people across the Group, enabling me to deliver strongly on the project.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the FLP?
Projects are short term, so you need to scope them very quickly. The people you need to liaise with are extremely busy, so you need to ensure you make every minute count. You do not have the luxury of time. You need to know the success criteria and when the project needs to come to an end. I think because I do not come from a consulting background, this was the most challenging aspect for me.
How would you describe Admiral’s culture?
We have a ‘people people people’ culture. We’re a top employer and have been voted as one of the Best Places to Work in the UK and international numerous times. You can see this clearly by looking at the number of people who have spent more than a decade with the company. People stay because they are part of this people centric culture which gives them a sense of belonging and provides them with new opportunities.
Everyone is willing to speak with you and there is a true open-door policy. One of the initiatives which I really like is a ‘port of call’ where you can set up a call with any department in the whole Group and have an hour with them to ask any questions or better understand their role. People are willing to invest in your growth and make sure you are successful in your role. Admiral believes you have the capability to do more than you are doing now. Our tagline says this quite well - “People who like what they do, do it better.”
What advice would you give to MBAs considering applying to Admiral?
It is important to do a lot of research into the company; speak to a lot of people within the Admiral Group if you can and understand what it is we are doing. You have to understand what we do well, how have we managed to do it well for so long and what the key market trends are that influences our strategy. You also need to understand the culture – what are our core values, what is it we really believe in and understand if this is something that resonates with you. If you feel Admiral is a fit, make sure your motivation and understanding come through in the process.
To find out more about our MBA programs, or to apply, visit our MBA page