Q. You have a BSc in Physics. Why insurance as a career?
A. I’m drawn to complexity. There is plenty of that in the Lloyd’s market and the way Asta’s business model is set up to manage it. And when you get past the science, Physics is making sense out of things, exploring boundaries and seeing how far we can push them. This applies to any industry but like many people in insurance, I just happen to have landed here almost by mistake! It’s a fascinating industry though, and in the London and Lloyd’s markets – very sophisticated. Every day, I’m given the chance to do what I enjoy most – solving problems.
Q. What are the 3-5 things you’re focusing on right now?
A. There’s always lots going on in IT. As well as four new system implementations and further development of our intranet/extranet, we’re also on-boarding three new service companies and one new Lloyd’s syndicate. That’s no easy task but one we’re very good at delivering. Our role is increasingly strategic, so we’re also focused on responding to Brexit and the Future at Lloyd’s.
Q. What book are you reading at the moment?
A. City of Fortune – how Venice won and lost a naval empire by Roger Crowley. My father was a physicist with the Admiralty – the UK government department that was responsible for managing the Royal Navy – so any book with a naval theme interests me. Incredibly, history shows us that “modern” manufacturing principles were being used even in the Middle Ages, with eye witness accounts of 10 war galleys being built in the Venice arsenal in a single day.
Q. There’s a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence in the industry. How do you see that playing a role in what we do at Asta?
A.I think AI is misunderstood and to a degree overhyped. Most people think about smart computers replacing people when in fact it’s, certainly initially, about working with large, clean, structured data sets that provide the raw materials from which to build solutions that can assist, not replace people. Unfortunately there isn’t a huge amount of that type of data in the market right now, but I’m hopeful that the focus on technology and data in the Future at Lloyd’s will change that.
Q. Talking of the Future at Lloyd’s what impact do you think that will have on Asta and our clients?
A. I’m a massive advocate of John Neal’s vision of the future, and with Lloyd’s taking the lead on technology developments, I see a much more cohesive approach than the LM TOM programme. Done well, the Future at Lloyd’s should reduce the operating costs that are holding capital and new business back from the market. For IT, it’s very much business as usual as we are always in a constant stage of change. However, I expect to see benefits from improved data quality (the clean, unstructured data sets I mention above) and reduced manual tasks; so that I and my team can focus on more productive work and providing a first class service to our clients.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your role?
A. We work in a relatively primitive market when it comes to technology and that creates unrealistic expectations. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked about Blockchain and the adoption of other new technologies that we’re not ready for, or which simply won’t work given the current market culture and infrastructure. A core part of my role therefore is to manage those expectations by practising the art of what’s possible in the context of our own business model, the wider insurance market, macro factors such as the economy and now the Future at Lloyd’s.
Q. What was the soundtrack of your youth?
A. 1980s Synth-Pop, courtesy of my older brother and sister’s record collection. For those too young to remember vinyl records or the 1980s, that means the likes of New Order, Depeche Mode and The Human League. Look them up on Spotify, or go and see them live – most of them are still touring!