Why did you get into insurance?
Insurance wasn’t something that I ever set out to do as a job; my career prior to this had been in direct and loyalty marketing roles on both the agency and client side of the marketing game. When the opportunity came to work for Cigna, what attracted me was the culture of the company and the business model, which is direct to consumer. I like to think that, by not having an insurance background, it has helped me to have a fresh perspective on the insurance game. Now that I’m into the insurance industry, what has struck me is the talent and commitment of the people, and the real impact that we have on our customers’ lives.
What’s one thing that insurers could do to improve the public’s perception of the insurance industry?
Trust is an issue we have to continue to battle with as an industry. The BBQ conversation around insurance is often one of suspicion – especially around key moments of truth, like claims. To help this the industry needs to continue to focus on transparency and openness, and to embrace initiatives like the recent Fair Insurance Code adopted by ICNZ. We need to ensure that our products meet customer needs and that they understand what they are covered for. It’s in everyone’s interests – both ours and the customers – to not have issues at the time of claim.
How would you change the industry?
I’m not sure it’s in my power to change the industry! But certainly the industry will continue to evolve, especially in terms of distribution. My personal view is that we need to keep offering customers choice in the way they access insurance products and services. There will therefore always be a place for brokers and advisors, and also a place for direct insurance models – especially with digital playing a greater role in the insurance buying process. The industry, and the associated regulatory environment, needs to ensure that it can cater for these different distribution models to give customers both choice and the right level of consumer protection.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Most recently it was from my doctor who said “don’t kick doors” after I broke my foot doing just that! More broadly, I have always been influenced by the advice that, every day, in whatever situation we face, we have the power to “choose our attitude”. I remind myself of that on a regular basis.
If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
Increase pay for teachers. Outside of nurses, I can’t think of a more worthy, important, influential and deserving occupation yet their pay scales don’t in any way reflect that.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The highlight has probably been the variety of organisations I’ve worked with through my career and the different opportunities that they presented me with. If I had to pick one, my time starting my own business, a direct marketing consultancy, was probably the time period in my career that stands out the most. It was in equal measures the most empowering, most fun, most challenging and most scary period of my career.
What’s your favoured style of coffee?
Union, league, soccer or other?
If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Tony Blair – he was elected British PM when I lived in London so I saw Blair at his political best.
Steven Fry - because I just love his eloquent brand of English humour.
Steve Jobs – because he seems to have been such a fascinating contradiction of brilliance, charisma and narcissism (and I might get a free phone out it).
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
…doing something else! If money was no object, then living on a vineyard in the South of France writing a book (which no one would read but which would give me great pleasure).