I applied for AXA’s Business Leaders Graduate Programme because I didn’t want to be a number, I wanted to make a difference. I was attracted to the firm because I saw I could impact the business, even as a graduate. Following the application process, I was delighted to be accepted for the two-year programme, which consists of three eight-month rotations, and found myself in Ipswich working as Project Manager for AXA.
Day to day I’m involved in lots of planning, managing stakeholders and liaising with various teams across the business. I work with a wide range of people including developers, analysts and testers. My Project Manager role is really varied and flexible and I have a lot of control over the way I can work. I’m in charge of my time and I do a lot of travelling, so I’ll go to London for a meeting or spend a week working on a project in Bolton. I worked specifically on the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) recently-introduced policy on Protected No Claims Discount (PNCD), looking at policy wordings and feasibility reviews, which was an interesting insight into how small changes can mean a big difference to us and the way we work.
An opportunity to give back
I’ve also been working on a lot of integration projects, which I’ve really enjoyed. And, because I saw a knowledge gap in the team, I actually took it on myself to approach senior management and ask if I could design and deliver a learning session. My managers gave me the go ahead so I’ll shortly be presenting a training session on the change and delivery function and the importance of commercial awareness, to my team. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to give back to the team that are teaching me all about AXA and the way the business works, as well as my role within it and the opportunities available to me. I really appreciate that I’ve been able to do something off my own back – to make that difference that attracted me to AXA in the first place.
Advice at every level
To work in insurance, you need to be resilient, prudent, good with numbers and have excellent communication skills! I really enjoy working in different locations with different teams, understanding the people and the business functions and getting to understand all the processes and procedures involved in working for a global company. Building connections with people is important to me and I like the networking opportunities, too. It’s very open here and I love the fact I can pick up the phone or email a senior director and then go and see them for advice or ask them specific questions. I’ve had a lot of support from my immediate team, as well as the graduate team, and my mentor, who’s helped me look at what I want and hope to achieve on the graduate programme and how to do that.
I’ve been doing various training alongside my day to day work. There are four modules included on the Business Leaders Graduate Programme, the first of which is based on emotional intelligence and leadership. I’ve also been able to take part in a project management qualification, which has made me feel like a real part of the team, so I’m now a fully qualified Project Management Practitioner.
Leave the preconceptions behind
My advice to anyone thinking about working in the insurance industry would be to approach it with an open mind, leave the preconceptions behind. Yes, there are a lot of roles in compliance or planning in the industry, but there are lots of other opportunities too, like marketing, strategy and IT, there’s a lot going on here!
While I’ve been enjoying my time in project management, I’ll be moving on to the Customer Journey Team in Cobham next and looking forward to seeing how this rotation compares to my first. We’ve recently been discussing our next rotations within our graduate cohort and just found out that one of us is off to Paris for a secondment there, which is brilliant news. Because AXA is a global organisation, we really could be going anywhere on our rotations. I love travelling so I’d be really interested to work in Singapore or perhaps the Americas, it would give a fantastic insight into the way AXA functions around the world.
Looking to the future, I’d like to move into management as soon as possible, hopefully within marketing or somewhere I can use my creative abilities, and I know I’ll have the support to do this from AXA.