Boxing crocodiles and team culture in Darwin

GB boss enjoys Territorian vibe

Boxing crocodiles and team culture in Darwin

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

Australia has some classic examples of culture but it would be hard to beat Humpty Doo.

“It's pretty famous for a boxing crocodile statue at the old post office,” said Kye Brown (pictured above). “The tourists always go past that.”

Brown is Gallagher Bassett’s (GB) Darwin-based branch manager for the Northern Territory. She grew up and lives in this small town of about 5,000 people near the local capital.

According to Wikipedia, the origins of the Humpty Doo name are uncertain. “The place was known as "Umdidu", an English-language corruption of an Aboriginal term which meant a popular resting place,” said one theory in the entry.

Insurance Business was asking Brown about the importance of work culture when the cultural features of her local origins came up.

Hot topic: Work and team culture

“Culture” is a hot topic in the industry.

Many insurance industry leaders interviewed by IB see work culture as an essential part of every facet of their businesses, from winning contracts to retaining staff and making investments in other companies.

Brown said the team culture in GB’s Darwin office is particularly strong. She said this could be one difference between working with an insurance business in a remote area versus a busier metropolis.

“There are the external challenges of our industry in the NT so because of those it’s important to us that we have a strong and fun team culture,” she said.

Brown said her staff work “really hard” and at times things can get challenging.

“Despite that, we enjoy our time together in the office socially and take the time to get to know each other,” she said. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from our interstate colleagues who visit the Darwin office that they love the vibe and how everyone genuinely gets along and has fun together.”

Brown said she really appreciates this feedback and attributes it to being “a Territorian.”

A Territorian vibe

“The vibe we have up here is a bit more laid back then the big cities,” she said. “We like being here and part of that is enjoying each other’s company.”

The team spirit and healthy work culture don’t necessarily happen automatically.

“We pre-plan some event things, we have a local social club who gathers ideas and books things in for us – like a harbour cruise coming up next month,” said Brown.

However, day to day in the office, she said, is largely “natural and unplanned.”

“We have morning and afternoon teas – a lot of people love baking and spoil us – and even play games,” she said. “Pictionary is a big favourite for the team, it always generates a lot of banter and laughter – not everyone is an artist!’”

Brown and her staff also watch out for each other in other ways.

“We encourage people to get out of the office for fresh air to, do a ‘blockey’ [a walk around the block] if they have had a challenging call or something,” she said.

Personal brands: Are they important?

One extension of Brown’s approach to team culture is the way she views the importance of a personal brand.

“You can't underestimate the value of your brand,” she said. “For me, it's led to so many different opportunities, like literally being offered positions and new experiences that I never thought I would have stepped into.”

She credits these positive experiences to her special efforts to make face-to-face contacts across the industry and establish a network. Brown says this is particularly important for women in the industry and helps them to speak out, challenge their own thinking and provides a space where they can share their career and personal journeys.

“It’s about reaching out and sharing those learning experiences so we don’t have to start from scratch,” Brown said.

Culture across the industry

IB has discussed the importance of team and work culture with a number of industry figures.

“I felt that it was going to be a very easy transition because of our very similar cultures, focused on people and on results but having a good work life balance,” John Whiteside, former director of Professional Insurance Solutions, said in February. He was explaining his decision to sell the business to Gallagher.

In January, when BMS Group (BMS) acquired Gold Coast headquartered Austbrokers Coast to Coast (C2C), BMS CEO Andrew Godden said the acquisition was “straightforward” because both firms shared common priorities and cultures.

What’s the culture vibe like in your office? Please give some examples below

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