Lauren has progressed quickly from the Aon graduate scheme and is now lead broker on several accounts
How did you get your job?
During the third year of my BSc (Hons) Mathematics at the University of York, I saw the Aon graduate trainee scheme on milkround.com and applied before Christmas. I knew that I'd been offered the job by Easter and started the September following graduation.
The process for the graduate scheme now is different though, and a lot of our graduates come in via the summer internship scheme that happens after an undergraduate's penultimate year.
Try to get some work experience at a broking house or insurance company, even better if it's a Lloyd's syndicate
Is your degree relevant to your job?
It is useful in terms of thinking analytically and being comfortable with numbers; however, the necessary skills for my job I gained from extracurricular activities at university - strong communication, relationship building, thinking on your feet, teamwork/leadership, etc.
What are your main work activities?
I work in the energy division at Aon, broking insurance for downstream energy clients, i.e. oil refineries, pipelines and petrochemical plants.
I typically start work between 8.30am and 9am and spend the morning reviewing emails, discussing issues that need to be addressed on certain accounts and lining up my meetings for the day. The hours of 11.30am to 4.30pm are generally spent out of the office walking around the Square Mile visiting underwriters in their offices or in the Lloyd's of London building on Lime Street.
A few times a week there are business lunches with underwriters or clients, and then I'll go straight to meetings afterwards, so I'm often not back at my desk until 4pm to 5pm. The rest of the afternoon is spent relating my progress back to colleagues and answering underwriters' questions via email.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
I started on the Aon graduate scheme, which was an 18-month programme rotating between departments and job roles. I then settled in the energy broking team and have been there for two-and-a-half years. At first my role was to support the other team members in negotiating renewals and doing the general servicing of accounts, while building my relationships with underwriters.
Now I am the lead broker on several accounts, I spend much more time meeting clients and am generally autonomous in how I structure my day and how I approach my work - I still have plenty of support from within the team, though. Next year I will have the opportunity to work in several Aon offices in South America for a few weeks.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy the freedom and the sociability in this job. Leaving the office and meeting people really breaks up the day, and I love having the chance to tackle a problem and find solutions myself. There are also lots of fun networking events and travel opportunities.
We always say that insurance is the financial sector's best kept secret. The hours are nowhere near as challenging as banking, but the pay is still good, and although it has the stereotypical reputation for being boring, it is interesting, exciting, sociable and I actually find it quite fun.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Each account has a renewal date, which is your deadline for getting the insurance in place. A lot of accounts tend to renew at similar times of year, so there are periods where you are incredibly busy, and it can be extremely serious if you haven't got the insurance in place by the renewal date and then the client suffers a big loss.
Also, there are can be some tricky personalities in the market and learning how to work with them in order to get the deal that you want can be tough.
Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?
Try to get some work experience at a broking house or insurance company (even better if it's a Lloyd's syndicate, as sitting in Lloyd's would give you a real flavour for the industry). Try and start looking during your second year at university or earlier, as there are often summer internships going on. Just be bright, sociable and conscientious and you'll be fine.