Patrick's role is all about getting the maximum performance in a given market, which in the end is more about the right people management skills than dry numbers.
I wanted a career in business, but didn’t want to be tied to London and was looking for a clearly structured training route with the prospect of qualifications. I hadn’t considered insurance until I was impressed by what I heard from Norwich Union at a graduate recruitment fair. I did look around at other employers, but ended up going for the attractions of a major player in the market with lots of opportunities to focus my career direction during the graduate scheme.
I enjoyed my time in all of the business areas I covered including product development, compliance and sales. To my slight surprise, however, it was sales and business development which really appealed to me. I had imagined myself working on corporate strategy or something else very long term, but the challenge of meeting targets by understanding markets, customers and competitors was very rewarding. I had enjoyed sales roles in student jobs, and I am quite competitive when it comes to sports, so it does fit my personality. I think sales has a bit of an image problem for some graduates, but the opportunities are really there for the right people.
Once I completed my training, I took charge of a team of sales staff working in motor insurance, handling key accounts myself while taking responsibility for team sales and performance targets. Our sales budget was over £5 million, and I got a real buzz from exceeding the targets.
After a year, I moved on to promoting a new line of motor insurance products. This was a key movement from direct selling to business development, where I concentrated on developing relationships with brokers, who would be selling the products to consumers. I also trained our own sales staff on the new lines and provided input into writing marketing materials. I enjoyed this new rounded role, while still being sales-driven.
Early this year, I took a change of direction by going to work for an expanding chain of brokers. In many ways, brokers are central to the whole insurance business, as they choose the right products from insurers to offer their clients, based on their knowledge of the market, and talk to consumers every day. I am actually on the other side of the table when insurance companies pitch their products to me, deciding if we will add them to our portfolio. I then supervise the performance of these products across the North East region. It is still all about getting the maximum performance in a given market, which in the end is more about the right people management skills than dry numbers.
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