Five minutes with...Richard Park, head of marketing and communications at AA Insurance

by Nerine Zoio 07 Jul 2017

Five minutes with...Richard Park, head of marketing and communications at AA Insurance

Why did you get into insurance?

When I left university with a business management degree it was tough to find a job. I think unemployment was around nine or 10%. I fell into insurance with a job at Southern Cross Healthcare. I was hired into a sales role by a fantastic sales manager, Eve Williamson. Once there, I realised that working at organisations like that – where people really care about their customers – was what I wanted to do.

How would you change the industry?

It’s really about focusing on what New Zealanders want and need from their insurer. I am a firm believer that if you look after your staff and your customers, a positive company result will follow.

What’s the most important thing insurers can do to improve their relationship with their customers?

Communicate well and do what you say you’re going to do.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

What I’ve learned along the way is the importance of surrounding yourself with good people, creating a “success” culture, and giving people the tools and freedom to do their job as best they can.

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?

As I think this country is struggling with its infrastructure I’d invest even more in building the infrastructure we need to grow and prosper – things like rail and roads as well as removing the obstacles to building houses throughout the country. 

What has been the highlight of your career?

You know, it’s really all the great people I’ve met along the way. I’ve stayed friends with many of my workmates. Like any job, if you enjoy the people you are working with, life is a lot more fun.

What’s your favoured style of coffee?

Black espresso – a long black or Americano.

Union, league, soccer or other?

I mainly played soccer and cricket at high school and enjoyed every minute of it. However, as a Kiwi I loved playing, and now watching, rugby.

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?

Carl Sagan – an inspirational man; what an amazing mind!
Martin Crowe – simply because he was a childhood hero.
My third I wouldn’t invite to dinner but I’d like to have a conversation with – Donald Trump. Just so I could ask, “What the *#^! are you doing man…?”

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…

In the accountancy profession, probably. My grandfather and father were in that profession, and I grew up with it. Either that, or I’d be mowing lawns.

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