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From SPARK Leadership Program to Deputy Head of International Pricing – Alok’s story

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MBA

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Blog

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21/10/2020

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Tell us about your journey so far at Admiral “I've been in the company for over five years now, having joined as an International Pricing Manager on the SPARK Leadership Program. When I joined, the team was quite small with the goal of helping our international businesses to grow their pricing capabilities. I spent my first year and a half familiarising myself with the pricing systems through technical pricing projects as I had no prior insurance experience. It was very easy to learn from those around me including the senior managers who were all approachable from the start. I then started managing projects, working more closely with our international managers. In 2018, I spent six months in the Elephant operations (US) as the Internet Interim Pricing Director, helping the new CEO to rebuild the team there. This was just one example of international collaboration, but I worked on many other projects with our overseas businesses before taking the role of Deputy Head of International Pricing two and a half years down the line. As part of that role, David (Group CEO) asked me to develop analytics capabilities in the team, as machine learning was becoming an important part of our pricing methodology across the Group. We started hiring analysts with specific machine learning and data science expertise and we now have a separate International Pricing Analytics team.” Can you tell us about a project that stood out for you? “One that jumps out was in my first year. There was a vast amount of public data available online from the latest government census. Goal was to identify anything that could be useful for us in pricing. I was given a lot of freedom to play around with the data and investigate creative solutions. The result was a new geographical scoring system for pricing, which would have huge loss ratio impact and financial benefits for the business. The interim Pricing Director role that I undertook for six months in the US was also a highlight. I got first-hand experience of leading a complex department in a fast paced and evolving organisation and I was advising the leadership team, following through with implementations, and really seeing the impact of my recommendations.” How much international work does your role involve? “Although I manage a large portion of the team in the UK, our team works with a lot of autonomy which allows me to spend more time on our international operations. I work very closely with international leadership team, including CEOs, to  deliver and advise on key strategic pricing, analytics & data projects. I go wherever the challenge is. For example, I may go to the USA or elsewhere in Europe to work on a specific project or to spend time with the team to identify opportunities for improvement. This means I can maximise the potential of our team, by identifying projects that will benefit them, as well as the business. In general, the opportunities to work internationally depend on your capabilities and knowing the language helps, but there is a lot of demand from our overseas operations. We love it when people say they want to travel and work cross-culturally. There is a lot of flexibility and we work around your lifestyle and preferences. It is really tailored to the individual.” What do you enjoy most about your role now? “I love the impact and exposure that comes with my role. I get to work with all the CEOs and international leaders on complex problems with exciting implications for the business. The role is vast and that means you can choose your own career path. There’s so much going on that you have the chance to get involved in a lot of different things, for example international collaboration, data science, project management, people management, etc. We have people who progress from an MBA position into CEO positions across the Group and with an evolving business there are always opportunities to use the SPARK Leadership Program as a launchpad to move into senior roles internationally. Covid-19 aside, one of the highlights of the role is the travel. I enjoy spending time in different countries, talking to different people and learning from our international teams.” Speaking of Covid-19, how have you found working from home? “I would say that things went much better than I anticipated. In International Pricing, we were used to working in remote locations as part of the role. Working remotely has brought us closer to our international operations because contact with them is now no different to that with our UK colleagues – it’s all virtual. I think the geographical divide  has been blurred. Of course, with travel restrictions we miss the face to face contact and discussions with international managers, but technology has helped us a lot.”Can you tell us a bit about the training for the role?“A lot of the training at Admiral is practical, learning by doing. You won’t be sitting and listening passively. We look for people who are happy to learn from the bottom up and get their hands dirty from day one.  As we work with international and local teams with a variety of experience and personalities, you have a large pool of talent and expertise to learn from. There are plenty of opportunities for mentoring on projects too. Admiral is a very open company. You can easily go and talk to someone. People are friendly, they like to grab coffee and have a chat. It’s simply a matter of asking and putting yourself out there. Within my first 18 months, I was already in the USA managing a department, so the learning continued as I progressed. You never stop learning in this role.” Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to be based in Cardiff? “The main reason the SPARK Leadership Program is initially based in Cardiff is because this is where our Group HQ is, our training ground, and home to some of our most experienced people. It is a great place to learn the ropes and get a real feel for Admiral – the business and the culture. Besides that, I think the value for money in Cardiff is amazing. We have all the advantages of a big city but without the expense and frantic pace of life.” What would you say to anybody who is considering applying for a position with us vs other large employers? “Simple – do you want to be a tiny part of a big company or a big part of Admiral? Admiral has the best of both worlds: we’re a FTSE 100 international company with a culture that will give you the autonomy and freedom to innovate that usually only exists in smaller start-ups. Rarely will you find a company where you get the chance to work directly with the most senior managers and, in many cases, the CEOs on your first project.” What advice would you give to anyone wanting to succeed in the role? “I think humility is the first thing. You should be ready to learn and work with people at every level. The second one is the ability to drive things forward. You’ll be dealing with the unknown, but this means you have the chance to create your own solutions, the freedom to try things out, and to use your initiative. Finally, a sense of humour is important. People care about your personality and interests and they want to get to know the real you.” What does the future hold for International Pricing? “The next two years are going to be a very exciting time for insurance, as we are going through the transformation of machine learning, big data and the cloud. It’s an exciting time for people to join in pricing and data because a lot of big projects are happening right now and will continue happening for the next three to four years. So, if you like numbers, if data opportunities excite you, and if you want to take a leadership position with a real impact on the business, the SPARK Leadership Program is the best way to begin a career you won’t regret.” You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply on our website. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on Linkedin to get valuable insights into the company and culture. 

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Tell us about your journey so far at Admiral “I've been in the company for over five years now, having joined as an International Pricing Manager on the SPARK Leadership Program. When I joined, the team was quite small with the goal of helping our international businesses to grow their pricing capabilities. I spent my first year and a half familiarising myself with the pricing systems through technical pricing projects as I had no prior insurance experience. It was very easy to learn from those

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Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

From MBA intern to Finance Manager at Conte.it – Stefano’s journey

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MBA

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Blog

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12/10/2020

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Meet Stefano “I joined the Group in 2017 on the Future Leaders Program at Conte.it, our Italian operation. It was the charisma of our founder Henry that sparked my initial interest in the Group. Whilst studying for a full-time MBA in Bocconi, Henry and some colleagues visited campus to tell the Admiral story. I immediately felt a fit with Admiral and applied for a summer internship and, when my MBA finished, for a permanent position.” Exposure to senior management “When I joined full-time on the Future Leaders Program, my first project involved reorganising the Claims department and creating a new governance function. Alongside this, I worked in Operations and Finance on numerous smaller projects. I then acted as PMO for Italy on the Group level Brexit project, which launched in 2018. From January to March 2019 I had the opportunity to work on several strategic projects alongside Costantino Moretti, CEO of Conte.it, gaining valuable exposure to senior management and having opportunities to raise my voice and be heard. I was then appointed Finance Manager for Conte.it in April 2019.” International opportunities “With footprints in eight countries, mobility is key at Admiral.  My role has taken me from Rome to Cardiff and Seville on international projects. In September 2019 we held our Group Finance Management meeting in Seville, which provided another opportunity to travel and discover more about our international operations.” Learning on the go “As with any role, there are challenges to be overcome. Sometimes, you simply have to roll up your sleeves and learn on the job. Moving around the business means constantly having to understand new areas, many of which require a large amount of specific knowledge. An emphasis on internal mobility and learning by doing allowed me to familiarise myself with the most important needs of an area in order to start delivering change and seeing results, often in small time windows. One of the most valuable skills for the role is the commitment to keep learning, as well as the willingness to experiment and fail. Pushing myself beyond my limits and having the opportunity to empower those around me has enabled me to pursue a diverse and rewarding career at Admiral to date.”   You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply on our website. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on Linkedin to get valuable insights into the company and culture. 

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Connie  Hogg

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Connie Hogg

Connie  Hogg

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Connie Hogg

Exposure from day one: David’s experience joining Admiral on our SPARK Leadership Program

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MBA

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Blog

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05/10/2020

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“Originally from Spain, I joined Admiral as an International Pricing Manager on the SPARK Leadership Program following my MBA at IE. My background is in telecommunications engineering and computer science and I previously worked at a French multinational in Paris for six years, managing the performance of IT systems and business applications in their environmental services sector. Despite building strong relationships with my colleagues and tackling some key IT challenges for the business’ move to the cloud, there was something missing, as I felt that my work had little direct impact on the customers and the top line. Pursuing an MBA seemed the best option to complement my engineering skills with business skills and pivot my career toward roles that have the direct impact that I sought.” Why Admiral “I first became aware of Admiral whilst at IE, when Admiral’s recruitment team came to present their MBA opportunities at a career forum. Admiral’s culture strongly promotes employee well-being, emphasising a fun workplace and a flexible work-life balance. This, together with the fact that Admiral was founded by two MBAs and has a strong history of progression from MBA Leadership Programs to business division CEOs, convinced me that it was a company well suited for a fresh MBA graduate.” SPARK Leadership Program “In particular, the SPARK Leadership Program caught my eye. Making an impact on both the customers and the top line of a company through innovative pricing was an irresistible challenge. Sitting within International Pricing and Analytics, the role provides the opportunity to work closely with data scientists on interesting topics such as machine learning.” A new country and city “In addition to the industry change, it was a change of country for me. Moving to the UK and settling in a new city had its challenges. But the team at Admiral was very helpful and provided me with company accommodation for the first month, whilst I settled in. Any questions I had about administrative procedures, documentation and banking were swiftly answered, helping me prepare for my move.” Living in Cardiff “Finding accommodation in Cardiff was much easier and more affordable, compared to the cities in which I had previously lived. Cardiff strikes the perfect balance of having a compact city centre with offices, shops, eateries, and flats, and nearby suburbs with traditional houses. Plus, with a ten-minute cycle from my new home to the office, there are no lengthy commutes and a great work/life balance.” Getting to grips with insurance pricing “As with any career change, there was a steep learning curve when I joined International Pricing. The tailored induction period ensured that having no prior pricing experience was not a barrier to making a real impact in the role.  My initial training within the Claims department was a very valuable experience as it exposed me to the fundamentals of the insurance sector and emphasised the importance of the customer.” Exposure to our international CEOs “During my induction phase I was tasked with researching how other companies outside the insurance sector use data innovatively and to put together a case study and presentation for Admiral’s international CEOs. This gave me great exposure to senior management from day one.” Diversity in practice “Joining International Pricing, I soon realised that I had the chance to be in one of the most multicultural teams within the company. The scope of the role covers diverse types of pricing strategies, leveraging advanced AI models, and working with both UK and international stakeholders at all levels of the organisation.” Where next “Next I will be devising our future pricing strategies and ramping up the deployment of machine learning models in the cloud. The scope of these projects may be for single products or cross-product, ranging from traditional car insurance policies, to telematics policies, loans, or on-demand car insurance.There is an increasing emphasis on innovation, so my projects are heavily focused on ways we can stay ahead of the curve in the context of disruptive technologies and new business models within the Financial Services industry. I’m excited to see where the role will take me next.” You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply on our website. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on Linkedin to get valuable insights into the company and culture. 

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Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Connecting the dots of the business: Avinash’s journey on the Future Leaders Program

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MBA

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Blog

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01/10/2020

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What were your career ambitions post-MBA? “Coming to the UK for my MBA was ambitious. I left my own country, invested a lot of my personal savings and took on a hefty student loan, all with the desire to progress and create a career I would be excited about. I have a results-driven personality, I want to create value and to push myself to do more. I did my MBA quite late in my career, with eight years of experience, including positions of senior management in India. Leaving this to invest in education, I knew I wanted to get back into senior management after my MBA.” Tell me about your career at Admiral so far? “As an MBA intern, I spent three months on two strategic projects. I was able to apply what I was learning during my MBA at Alliance Manchester Business Schools, as well as my pre-MBA experience.   The internship helped me to shine and prove myself in the final interviews for a full-time position. I’ve been at Admiral almost five years now and I’d say the first year was particularly memorable. I worked on the launch program of Admiral Loans, a strategic business move towards diversification. It was exciting to be involved in something completely new, beyond the insurance operations that Admiral was already known for. We were building a new financial services business from scratch and I had the opportunity to get involved straight out of my MBA. It was a time in which many important decisions were being made, which would determine the future of the loans business. There was a fine balance between speed and caution. We wanted everything to be right but knew we had to move fast.” Innovation within insurance “Once loans had launched and become business as usual, I decided to come back to the insurance world. Again, I was able to choose where I wanted to be, and work in a sphere that I enjoyed – ‘people who like what they do, do it better’ is more than just a tagline at Admiral. I became the Head of Product Lab, an innovation hub to explore new technologies and product possibilities. When I joined, we were working on an insurance product on Facebook Messenger which was driven entirely through social media. Pioneering innovation has always been a passion of mine.” Operations “After launching a new business and working on some of the most cutting-edge ventures, I moved into operations. This is one of the great things about the Future Leaders Program, the ability to move into different areas, gain experience and understanding, enabling you to connect the dots of the business. I think of my career at Admiral as a journey, that has been  focused on innovation, products and customers. The move into operations was a challenge, as I had no background in this area. However, I was given high level strategic projects, which allowed me to learn all about the products we sell and how we do so. I had the chance to make a difference from the start.” How would you describe the Future Leaders Program? “In the beginning it's more of an internal consulting position, working on projects across the company. The business is constantly evolving, with changing customer psychographics and regulations, and the role involves a lot of strategic adapting and planning for the future. The program allowed me to implement the skills I gained during the MBA and build on them to become a better consultant and a better business leader.” How did you find the work culture at Admiral? “There were significant differences in the work culture from India to the UK. I probably underestimated the importance of people management and had to learn how people prefer to listen, talk and engage. That was a steep learning curve for me. At Admiral - it’s not just about being a smart MBA or a good team player. It's also about understanding ways of working, learning how to navigate within an organisation and how to efficiently network. I had to learn what people really wanted and go the extra mile to help them. On the Future Leaders Program, it’s important to ask for visibility, to seek out opportunities to be heard by the leaders of the business. I learned the importance of dedicating time to creating a good network within the business, and I realised the importance of the small interactions, like how you introduce yourself. Working with diverse teams across the business taught me so much about the culture here in the UK. As a result, my CV is full of rich stories that go beyond the professional learnings I have acquired. When it comes to the Admiral culture, I think of Admiral founder Henry’s motto ‘Communicate, communicate, communicate. Feedback, feedback, feedback’. I’m a big fan of that. Beyond simply emailing a manager or colleague, it’s more about mingling and meeting, and communicating with people as much as possible. This was quite different to the culture I came from, where written communication was favoured over getting out of your chair to speak to someone face-to-face. At Admiral I learned how important communication really is. Meeting someone in the canteen, socials after work - never skip those! These are just opportunities to meet again and talk more. The more you communicate, the more you understand.”How do you think Admiral’s differs from other big companies? “When you hear the word ‘insurance’ you may not initially be excited. I wasn’t. Admittedly, the industry sounded a little boring to me before I found Admiral. However, it’s an industry that has survived crises time and time again and continued to adapt. People need insurance. This is seen in the continued share growth throughout the recent pandemic and the impressive innovation within the industry over the years.Admiral’s recruitment strategy also differs to the mass-recruitment of many other companies, where competition is cutthroat and very metrics driven, neglecting the human element.Admirals success and growth has been amazing. It was launched by MBAs like me and has grown immensely in the almost 30 years since. This was a major selling point of the company and the program for me.So, if you're looking for an environment with great people, a supportive network, and a beautiful city, then Admiral is the place to be.” You can find out more about our MBA Leadership Programs and apply HERE. You can also follow our MBA Leadership Programs on Linkedin to get valuable insights into the company and culture. 

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Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Kat Gil Mast

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Kat Gil Mast

Graduate careers: Omar's story

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Graduates and Students

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Blog

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17/09/2020

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Meet Omar who started on our Analysts Graduate Programme in February 2020. Here he tells us about his journey so far and his hopes for the future at Admiral.  What were you looking for during your job search? I studied Natural Sciences at university, and despite focusing on life sciences for the bulk of my degree. I found myself enjoying my maths and computing modules the most and so I decided I wanted to focus on that after uni. Why did you choose the Data Analyst Grad Programme? I found that Admiral were one of the only places offering a dedicated analyst grad programme which was accessible to someone with my background (having not studied Maths, Physics, Computer Science etc.) Being able to dive straight into what I was interested in was a big pull for me.   How did you find the recruitment process? It sounds very cliché, but I really enjoyed the recruitment process. The written application was longer than what I was expecting and used to, but that was in place of any psychometric testing, so as a result I was able to send off my application, confident that it was an actual representation of who I was! Similarly, during both my interviews, I felt like the interviewers were interested in me as a person more so over any qualifications or specific knowledge. They weren’t trying to catch me out at all, so I felt comfortable to speak honestly during questions, openly saying when I didn’t know or couldn’t figure out what was being asked. What does your day-to-day at Admiral look like? I’m going into my penultimate month in my placement now with Acquisitions MI, one of the main data providing departments. Our main reporting tools here are SQL, Excel, VBA, and MicroStrategy and throughout the placement I’ve had a chance to learn all of them. Now I have a lot of flexibility in picking up jobs which focus on what I want to develop further. One thing that really surprised me about Data Analysis is the element of design that came with it. I honestly thought that the roles would be exclusively processing numbers (which there definitely is!) but a big aspect of my role is thinking about how the data is presented. I’m not much of an artist, and I found this hard at the start, but now I sometimes find myself doodling little sketches of dashboards or brainstorming potential design ideas. I like to break up the day with little pockets of doing something different when I can, usually it’s reading whatever book I’ve got from the Buy a Book Scheme during lunch, or sometimes a bit more of a structured training put on by the Admiral Academy or my department. What skills have you found most useful at Admiral? Communication! I’ve found it really important to be quick and transparent with your communication. If your work is going to take a week or two longer for example, a quick email explaining the situation goes a long way! I’ve never been met with anything but appreciation for the honesty.  Do you see yourself working for Admiral long-term? Absolutely! One thing that excites me the most about talking to more senior members of the company is the variety of the careers they’ve built. I’m looking forward to building my journey here. What would you say to someone sceptical of working for an insurance company? When I first joined Admiral, I had a very rudimentary understanding of what an insurance company actually does; but very quickly I began to learn about the differing roles in the company and how it all fits together. One of the most exciting things for me about the grad programme is the fact we take placements in 3-4 very different roles and get to spend a lot of time getting to grips with each one to find a niche that we enjoy and are interested in. Is there anything you would recommend to someone applying for the data analyst grad programme? When I first applied to the programme, I was apprehensive about the size of Admiral and worried that my work wouldn’t contribute much to the company. It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the case, almost immediately after I joined my department I was able to start having a meaningful impact to work we do here and quickly built up a relatively high experience in some of the software we use. Now I’d say that the size of the company is a huge factor in the enjoyment I get from the work I do, giving you access to data and the ability to find trends and insights you probably wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. 

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Emily  Bonney

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Emily Bonney

Emily  Bonney

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Emily Bonney