Claire went to the University of York and is now in the middle of Allianz Commercial in Birmingham. We caught up with Claire to find our more about why she chose to pursue a career with Allianz, her experiences with the leading insurance company and her tips for those wanting to follow in her footsteps.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Born and bred in London I grew up down south before going up north to the University of York. I’ve now ended up somewhere in the middle at Allianz Commercial Birmingham!
What inspired you to apply for this role/this company?
Like a lot of people, I fell into insurance! I did Maths & Linguistics at university and a few days’ work experience at Beazley in London in their box at Lloyds before my final year, but like a lot of people found myself then applying to many graduate schemes during my final year of university. Having spoken to people in the industry, people spoke very highly of Allianz the company and in particular the graduate scheme. Having come from such a multicultural background and as a lover of languages I knew I wanted to work for an international company that also had a strong UK presence. I also favoured Allianz above others given the support they provide for development with both the underwriting academy and ACII funding – both well known and respected in the market
What was the single most important thing you learnt in your first week of your role?
Meet as many people as you can, but more importantly remember their names. People progress incredibly fast in the business. In just my year here I have seen many underwriters progress to senior level and then to management roles so treat everyone with respect.
What is your role and how long have you been at Allianz?
I have been with Allianz since September 2018. I was in existing business for 2 months and have been in new business since then.
What would a 'normal' day look like for someone in your role?
I come to my desk, check my emails then begin working on my ‘quotes’. These are risks that are new business to Allianz that brokers have sent in and require a premium for. Because of the nature of new business, my days are pretty unpredictable and always different. Unlike existing business, I do not work 6 weeks ahead but instead have to take each day as it comes. My job is fast paced, involves a lot of broker communication and is enjoyable because I am entrusted with a lot of responsibility. Every day will also include some time dedicated to outside activities such as graduate committee and charity responsibilities.
What do you find most interesting with the sector/industry you're in?
Following the LV Migration, Allianz are now the largest motor trade insurer in the UK. It is enjoyable being around market leading underwriters who are the best in their field with the highest technical knowledge. With so much advancing in the likes of technology and data, it is interesting to see how the industry is changing to tackle new challenges and keep up with customers’ needs.
What was the application process like? What was the hardest part? What did you enjoy the most?
The graduate application process is similar to all others; a multi stage process that includes an online application, interview, assessment day etc. The hardest (and most enjoyable) part of the process for me was the assessment day/face to face interview. This is always a challenge especially for people like me who didn’t know much about the insurance industry at the time. But on the other hand these give potential graduates the chance to also assess the company and determine if Allianz is somewhere they would like to work. After my assessment day I was also invited to interview at the branch that I would be working in – this is a great final step and a great chance to see the branch that you would be joining.
What is the company culture like?
This differs from branch to branch. However, my experience is overall the company has a diverse, welcoming and inclusive culture. There is a huge emphasis on graduate development and this can be seen by the numerous graduates who have succeeded in their careers in such a short time. If you put yourself out there the company will do its best to accommodate and ensure your career develops.
How important is diversity and inclusion to you and what is Allianz doing in this space at the moment?
Hugely important. (Whilst I’m sure Allianz do a lot on this topic, I don’t always feel it’s being published enough so can’t comment)
Have you had the opportunity to get involved in any activities outside work?
There are lots of opportunities to get involved with activities outside of your day to day job. Most branches have societies that are in charge of sports/social, charity, wellbeing etc. and if these don’t exist already you are always welcome to start something new!
Anything that has surprised you since you started?
There is a strong culture of learning & development. I thought only graduates/new starters had to do professional studies but all my colleagues are going on development courses, have personal development plans and are progressing through underwriting authorities. Nothing stays static for long and the company always pushes for you to move to the next step!
Do you feel university prepared you for what is expected of you in your role?
Nothing can prepare you for job-life. But the transferable skills I obtained at university definitely have been invaluable during my time here. For example, things as simple as time management, taking ownership of my own work and team work. Underwriters must have these vital skills to be good at what they do; it is a very collaborative and deadline driven job so if you want to be successful in this role you have to be able to take responsibility for your own work and own up to mistakes that happen.
Finally, any tips for anyone who'd like to apply for a similar role at Allianz?
Know what is going on the commercial insurance market, there is so much change at the moment and knowing what makes Allianz stand out for you/customers will set you up well for your interview. Don’t be worried if you are unsure what exact role you want in the business, many graduates find their calling once they start so don’t feel you have to love the first thing that you do.
To find out more about Allianz and view their live opportunities, click here.