Bath graduate Gareth - a new International Pricing Manager
Can you tell us a bit about your previous work experience before joining Admiral?
Prior to joining Admiral I was actually a professional sportsman, playing cricket for Glamorgan County Cricket Club. I had played cricket throughout my life through the age groups for Wales and was given a professional contract in the summer of 2005 while still at university in Bath. I decided to retire from cricket to take the opportunity to join Admiral. Cricket being the sport it is, in that we only play matches in the summer months, I had opportunities to gain work experience in a variety roles and companies during the winter in my time off. I spent time working for Goldman Sachs in London as well as Deloitte and Clydesdale Bank. These experiences gave me a great insight into the commercial world.
How did Admiral first come to your attention?
Being a proud Welshman and working in Cardiff as a cricketer for such a long time, I was aware of who Admiral were and the work they did. It was not however, until David Stevens came to Bath while I was on my MBA that I began to think of Admiral as a destination for my career. David delivered a talk outlining the history of Admiral and the aspects that made, and make Admiral the success story that it is. I then spoke with David briefly to introduce myself and things developed from there really. While doing further research into the company, I didn’t find a single person who said a bad word about the company. Having lived in Cardiff for many years and being from Llanelli, which is only 20 minutes from the Swansea office, I knew quite a few people who knew people who work or indeed have dealt with Admiral in some capacity. I was struck by how many people’s first words when I mentioned that I was thinking of moving to Admiral were, ‘oh, they are meant to be a great company to work for’. So this highlighted to me that people, even when speaking to their friends, were happy to say they enjoyed working at Admiral. This was even more powerful than Admiral’s impressive standing in the ‘Great places to work’ surveys.
When did you join Admiral?
I joined Admiral immediately after the cricket season last summer so had my first week in the office at the beginning of October.
Tell us about your role within the Admiral Group?
I have joined as an International Pricing Manager. This involves working with our international businesses to establish optimum pricing strategies. I am spending my first few months, not only learning about the business as a whole, but specifically learning the techniques utilised by Admiral to develop its pricing model. A particular challenge for me at the moment is learning the computer programming language, SAS. This is something which is totally out of my comfort zone as computer programming skills aren’t something you tend to need as a professional sportsman so it’s the first time i’ve seen anything of the sort in 9 years since my undergraduate degree. It’s the chance to learn new skills that particularly attracted me though in the first place. It has been a mark of the culture within the company the amount of help from different people I have had with getting to grips with learning SAS. If ever I am stuck, there is always someone who is able and happy to sit with me to help me out.
What exposure have you had to the different areas of the business so far?
I have had the opportunity to numerous ‘Port of Call’s’ in my short time here. These are where anyone within the company can book time to go to another department and someone will talk you through what the department does and how it relates to the various parts of the business. I have so managed to spend time with Telematics, Underwriting, Claims, New Business, Data Analytics and Data Protection. This is a great way getting a wide overview of the business and really allows you to get to grips with what makes things tick here at Admiral. It is also a great way to internally network. I have also been able to get my teeth into a couple of different projects which lie slightly outside my role in pricing. This has been great as it has given me great variety in the tasks I have had to undertake but also has allowed me to meet many people in the business, which again has assisted my integration into the company. I have always believed that you learn from those around you and people that you meet and work with. So, the opportunity to meet and work with such a wide range of people in varying positions and roles has not only made it an enjoyable start to my career here but also accelerated my learning about the business.
In your opinion, is Admiral different to other companies?
From my brief experiences of working at the companies I have, along with speaking with people in Admiral and at other companies, I would say certainly. What really screams out at you is the flat management structure in place. I have only been here a matter of months, come from a background which has nothing to do with insurance, and I have already had the opportunity to come up with ideas and been encouraged to research these ideas to investigate and establish what value they may bring. These have involved me meeting with David on many occasions to discuss suitable paths forward. I would confidently presume that there would be no other FTSE 100 company out there where a new starter, with next to no relevant experience, would have the opportunity to meet and discuss their ideas with the COO of the organisation. The culture is certainly one of enjoyment and equality which gives everyone the encouragement that they can make a difference and progress their careers quickly.
What are the main influencing factors you believe to have contributed to Admiral’s success?
I actually think this is quite a difficult question to answer. If it were easy to ascertain what factors led to success then that would make things easy to copy and have success elsewhere. It’s how things complement each other and how certain factors work in harmony that leads to the success here at Admiral. I do however feel the flat management structure allows Admiral to be the innovative leader it is within the insurance industry. When somebody comes up with an idea, there aren’t the barriers and bureaucracy here so people can let their ideas fly. I also believe the share ownership model has played a key role in the ongoing success of Admiral. Since all employees are share holders, I feel it makes people that bit more committed and engaged than they may be otherwise, even at a subconscious level. All employees have a vested interest in how the company generates revenue, saves costs and is perceived by the public. To use a car analogy, people treat their own car with a little more care and attention than they treat a hire car and I feel this is the culture which is fostered in an organisation where all employees own the company. Ultimately though, people do genuinely enjoy working here. Many factors lead to this, and if you enjoy what you are doing then you are far more likely to be successful at it.