This month Adeola Ajayi, Advocacy Manager at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), shares who inspired her the most, how she came to work in Insurance and why it’s important to keep a sense of perspective and not change who you are in order to fit in.
“I did a communications degree so you could say my job roles have followed a predictable path, though my time in the industry has been anything but”
Your current role/short bio:
I am advocacy manager at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade body representing UK insurers. I joined the insurance profession in communications in 2008 and have worked on issues ranging from the volcanic ash crisis and flooding, to insurers moving to gender-neutral pricing and the London riots. I have been a public relations representative at three firms, a speechwriter to the ABI’s director general and I’m having fun in my current role as advocacy manager, looking at how we can make the industry more welcoming to a diverse range of people.
I did a communications degree so you could say my job roles have followed a predictable path, though my time in the industry has been anything but, and I’ve been pretty good at gravitating towards the bits of work I’m really interested in. For the bits that are not as exciting (you take the rough with the smooth), I have a book on my desk titled ‘sh*t happens, get over it’ which tends to inspire me through most challenging days… What advice would you give your younger self? I could have benefited from buying the book on my desk earlier in my life. It’s a lesson in not sweating the small stuff, focusing on what you can actually influence and realising that life is sometimes a set of disappointments you make the most out of.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Treat it like a broadcast interview”. I used to represent the ABI in TV/radio interviews on various issues – I knew what I had to do beforehand to perform and deliver in a live environment and I sometimes need to remind myself to apply that same principle to other situations.
When did you last ride a bike?
I do spin if a stationary bike counts? The classes are extremely challenging, but effective. I once hurled an expletive to my instructor during a tough workout – he responded, “I’ve been called worse, get back to work”.
If you were a superhero what powers would you want to have?
Who doesn’t want to see into the future? And how lucrative would that be in this industry of risk and probability?
What is the most difficult interview question you have ever had to answer?
When people ask me to tell them about myself, I freeze.
Are you competitive?
I think a lot of people in financial services are, and I think it’s healthy. Just compete at the right things.
I certainly didn’t think I would still be in insurance now, on that first day nine years ago, when I walked into the Hiscox Insurance press team. Financial services had never really been a draw back then and I had experience in creative industries, so I felt a bit of an anomaly. When you’re young, you feel you have to adapt to fit in – especially in an industry which has quite a traditional heritage – but then you realise that people hire you for who you are and you give yourself a license to be yourself. This and being open minded about new opportunities as well as having very supportive sponsors around me has seen me through to today.
About the Insurance Supper Club
The Insurance Supper Club is a private members’ group of senior leaders from around the globe. It provides a forum to meet, network and debate business issues while seeking to inspire the next generations of leaders in the industry and the community as a whole. It is recognised that companies currently have an imbalance between genders at the senior executive level. It is also recognised that having a more even gender balance has a positive effect on the performance and value of a business, yet change has been slow. Many reasons are used to justify this lack of progress: career breaks, reduced opportunities, poor networking and also inaccessible female role models. The Insurance Supper Club offers a platform which promotes active participation of its members.
Find out more at: www.theinsurancesupperclub.com
About the Chartered Insurance Institute
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is a professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and financial planning professions. Their 125,000 and more members commit to high professional standards and success in CII qualifications is universally recognised as evidence of knowledge and understanding.
Find out more at: www.cii.co.uk