There’s no denying that John Lyon has his pick of future employees for his new business Ando Insurance, pegged to start trading by the end of the year.
When Insurance Business reported the launch of the business back in June, there were numerous comments posted by former employees of Lyon all expressing their desire to work for him again.
We asked the popular leader how much of that did he think was down to the ‘brand of Lyon’.
“It’s possibly as much of a reflection of the lack of exciting developments in the insurance industry as it is on what we’re doing, but it’s a very humbling position to be in to know that there are a whole bunch of people that have approached us to say that they’d love to be part of what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’re very fortunate that we have already got an extraordinary positive employment brand despite not having traded yet.”
However, he admitted this can in part be explained by the vibe he helped to create while heading up Lumley for six years until stepping down last year after the company merged with IAG.
“That’s part of what drove people in the Lumley world, they could see the journey we were on and the success we were beginning to generate and the positivity that was going on.”
Lyon said the key characteristics that describe his leadership style entail being real, being himself, treating everybody as an equal and then matching that up with the intellectual capability to be successful.
That then created a vibrant and engaging culture of positivity, which drew more people in.
“If I narrow down the keys to my success in business, it’s been the ability to draw good people around me and I’ve been phenomenally lucky to have worked with some really talented people that have made me look good,” he said. “To be able to draw good people in builds momentum because those good people draw even better people and so it goes.”
Timing was also a key factor in deciding to start Ando, with Lyon ready for something different after spending the majority of his working life ‘feeding the corporate machine’.
“For 37 years I was perfectly happy in that environment but in different phases of your life you move into a different risk appetite and you’re prepared to push the boat out a little bit more and try something that’s a bit different.”
Lyon was also conscious of fast-moving market changes that could have made it more difficult to get the right people on board had he waited much longer.
“In a year’s time people would have either moved on from the old Lumley team or would have settled into jobs and careers.
“The last six months has been a time when there was still volatility and that’s been a good opportunity to get some great people onto the team.
“And as new relationships are formed in the market with changing CEOs, with Steadfast and Austbrokers moving into the market, it was really an important time to get in and do it now.”
A growing trend which has worked in Ando’s favour too is one of greater employee expectations, something which Lyon highlighted at last month’s Risk Rendezvous 2015.
“People are looking for meaning from where they work, they want to feel like they’re part of a business that’s got a purpose, that has some sense of social responsibility, that has some buzz to it.
“They want to feel energised, engaged and come home feeling as though they’ve achieved something during the day, and that’s one of the things we see as a smaller player is to have a very engaged workforce where people feel they’re part of something new and challenging, so that’s quite a nice opportunity there.
“If we can take the best people in the market, which we believe we’re doing, and give them an environment where they’re liberated to do what they know they need to do for the benefit of the customers then that’s a powerful force that frankly established corporates can’t match.
"At Ando we're looking for people who are agile thinkers, have great discipline to focus on what's important, are energy givers and are entrepreneurial. We think this will ensure an optimistic, fresh approach in the industry."
So who are the people on board at Ando so far? As well as fellow major shareholder Dean Edwards, joining Lyon are all Lumley alumni bar one:
* Mike Gardner - CIO;
* Brett Cowley - CFO & GM Broker Relationships;
* Timothy Riding - National Underwriting Manager, schemes and facilities;
* Dion Herdson – GM Transport and Logistics;
* Glenn Doidge - GM Commercial Markets;
* Tanya Clews - GM Claims and Partnerships.
Lyon is confident that while the beginnings may be small, the potential is huge.
He said: “We don’t think of ourselves as a small business, we think of ourselves as an evolving business and we’re investing in a serious infrastructure with top quality technology and a leadership team of weight, expertise and experience.
“So that probably gives some indication of the ambition we have.”