Inside Admiral

INSEAD Graduate Marisja Kocznur talks to us about the BDM role

Marisja, who is a dual national from Poland & South Africa, joined us in 2015 as a Business Development Manager (BDM) after finishing her MBA at INSEAD. Prior to this she worked in Asset Management and has an undergraduate degree in Maths and a Masters in Financial Economics.

Can you tell us a bit about your previous work experience before joining Admiral?

I’ve always been interested in Finance, so after completing my Masters in Financial Economics, I joined the largest privately owned asset management firm in South Africa. Before moving to Europe for my MBA, I worked as a Client Experience Manager where I managed several client-facing operations teams related to online, data quality, client complaints, as well as a team of business analysts who worked on the client strategy of the business. Aside from managing people, the strategic part of my role was the one I found most interesting – I had the opportunity to help shape the client experience and it was the perfect mix of my passion and interests, and provided a variety of different projects to work on. Hence, after my MBA I was hoping to draw these interests into my job – and Admiral has provided me with all that, and more.

How did Admiral first come to your attention?

During my MBA studies at INSEAD, I looked into inspiring alumni, and David and Henry came up. Henry subsequently came to campus to give a talk on his business journey, and his talk exceeded my expectations - he is so inspiring, and to hear him speak about his journey as well as the company culture and passion, made me really want to be part of this great organisation. I remember walking away and thinking ‘I just have to be part of this company’!

Tell us about your role within the Admiral Group

I think the best way to describe my role of International Business Development Manager is to compare it to that of an internal management consultant. Our role requires working in different areas of the business on a range of different projects – from those related to business expansion, strategy, and launching new products, to investigating ways to improve efficiencies in the existing business – and these projects could be based in the UK or in one of our international businesses.

What exposure have you had to the different areas of the business so far?

All BDMs start by doing training to take calls, which is the frontline of our business – I worked in our New Business department, and this was a great opportunity to be exposed to operations and really get to know our clients and what’s important to them. I have also had the opportunity to work with different people in the organisation – from our CEO, COO, CFO and other senior managers to different operational areas across the business.

In terms of projects, I’ll give some examples - I really enjoyed working with Investor Relations on the year end results presentations (great insight into a high level view of the business and the strategic thinking of senior management), and then joining the CEO and senior managers in their meetings with analysts and the press, post the results. I recently arrived back from working on a project in our French office, where I was part of an international team looking into new business opportunities across Europe – it was really interesting to understand the different European markets, investigate really interesting products, and of course I loved spending the summer in Paris ;)

In your opinion, is Admiral different to the other companies?

Yes, definitely – on so many levels!  The entrepreneurial culture and a real openness to innovation and independent thought are refreshing. The people are a great combination of being supportive and collaborative, but at the same time not afraid to challenge each other. There is a very flat structure with access to all levels of management, making it easy to approach anyone in the company - they’re always willing to help out or explain things to you. And the people are also just simply lovely – I consider many of my colleagues as friends, and really look forward to each day working with them.

What are the main influencing factors you believe to have contributed to Admiral’s success?

There are probably many things, but three in particular come to mind. Firstly, we have excellent leaders who are highly capable, yet humble and truly care about creating a successful organisation where employees are able to flourish. Secondly, the innovative and entrepreneurial mindset contributes to sharing and challenging ideas, and allows people to own their projects without unnecessary bureaucracy. Thirdly, the culture is very strong – we work with great people who share the same values, are open and honest, fun to work with, and ultimately really care about our clients.

What role does the culture of Admiral play in creating a rewarding workplace?

One of Henry’s famous sayings is that ‘People who like what they do, do it better’ – this is so true for Admiral, where I believe people really enjoy their work and want to give their best, which strongly contributes to a successful business. The culture is open and honest, there is no hierarchy, people are encouraged to use their talent, and we have a lot of fun in the process. All of these things make it a complete pleasure to come to work each day, and remain motivated to do our best for the business and our clients. It is such a privilege that when I say ‘I love my job’, I can truly mean it!