Name: Alastair Bodily
Role: Digital Transformation Lead
Time at Howden: 1 year 8 months
What do you do?
My job is to drive digital transformation at Howden. I have an almost consultative role: I work with two divisions specifically – Private Clients and Sport – to understand their business and suggest ways in which technology could help improve operational efficiency and generate new leads.
Whilst the name of my role is Digital, I actually get to focus on every single part of the business to identify problems and find solutions. We take a really holistic approach – looking at everything from the construction of the insurance product, to how new business is won, to how the legal side of things is managed.
How did you end up in your role?
I started at Howden as a Marketing Assistant, specifically looking after the Care division. We were given a lot of freedom to decide what forms of marketing we thought the business would most benefit from, and I moved towards the more digital side.
Working with Felix (who is Head of Digital Transformation), I built a new website for the Care division. That was where our holistic approach came from: the site was generating new leads, but we could see that lead conversion would be more successful if the business was bought into the new digital strategy. So we started looking more and more into every part of the business, to make sure the new leads would convert to new clients. From there I had quite a natural progression into my current role.
Career highlights at Howden
When I wanted to build the new Care website, digital marketing wasn’t something that had really been done in the marketing team. It took a while to get the new site up and running, but by the end of the year it had brought in £40,000 of business. I was given the freedom and support to try something new, and the return on investment was 300%. The fact that we did it ourselves, and it was such a success, was really exciting.
What keeps you at Howden?
Howden is a big company, and it keeps growing every year. But it has still managed to maintain its flexibility. There’s a lot of freedom here. You can choose the area you want to work in and find your own direction. There’s fluidity in the business to pursue what interests you, and it’s not too fixed or linear in terms of opportunities and progression.
What has been the biggest challenge in your role?
The hardest part is winning over the hearts and minds of people in the business. Insurance is a very traditional industry, and some people have been doing things the same way for 20, 30, 40 years. We are trying to convince them to change the way they’ve been working for their whole careers.
It was a learning curve for us, presenting to people to get their buy-in. We have to try to look at problems in a different way and bring people along on the journey with us. There have been changes and people are embracing tech a bit more now, but some are still reluctant.