We are pleased to present the first in a series of interviews that take a look at the lives and careers of our members.
ALFIES spent a day in the City with our fellow member James Gordon, an expert in the insurance industry who has been recently appointed as a Managing Director of the Cyber and Technology Division at BMS Group.
We asked James some questions about misconceptions regarding corporate jobs and the importance of networking for individuals who aspire to a career in the insurance industry.
Do you want to know what determines a successful career in the cyber insurance and why ALFIES would never hold its launch party on Monday, keep reading.
James, tell us a little bit about your career development in the context of London being one of the most influential insurance markets in the world. Does that mean more challenges occur or do more opportunities arise for an individual to succeed within this career choice?
It’s a mixture of both: London, being one of the world centres of insurance, brings huge opportunity but with that comes challenges. Lloyds’ strength lies in addressing highly specialist and emerging risk classes, as well as distressed, hard to place coverages. So you do see everything in London but not always the simple, ‘vanilla’ accounts.
“London, being one of the world centres of insurance, brings huge opportunity but with that comes challenges.”
Working in the City of London is special: it means big money and legendary parties – are these misconceptions that people have about corporate jobs or incentives that make more and more people apply to companies like BMS?
There are obviously people earning big money and partying hard in the city but the reality is that most will be working incredibly hard, only grabbing bar-time here and there. Competition for any opening is fierce and as you climb higher, most people simply become too busy to spend hours in the pub. The incentives certainly exist but they are obviously hard earned (and not thrown around as if often portrayed).
“In the insurance industry competition for any opening is fiercely competitive.”
Interesting. As we said, you have quite a remarkable career in insurance. What would you dedicate your success to mostly?
Hard work and luck. I got into the cyber liability when it was still in its infancy in London and have been lucky to watch it grow and be a part of that.
“In cyber insurance you cannot really operate without networking.”
How important is networking and maintaining thoughtful connections with people in your industry and cross-industries to you and your career growth?
It’s really important, especially in the insurance industry that is so deeply tied to the world of law. Cyber, in particular, requires the use of so many different vendors and service providers, that you can’t really operate without networking.
So, with this professional network you have built around yourself – are there any boundaries? Is it strictly professional and you only reach out to them because of their expertise, or would you class them as friends too?
I think that depends on the person. Many professional relationships span so many years that you do class some of them as friends too.
“The insurance industry is deeply tied with the world of law, which makes professional networking really important.”
You have recently joined ALFIES, an online professional network for people in the four business-critical professions: accountancy, law, finance, and insurance. What are your expectations from the platform?
To be a great platform for those four professions to interact; to engage with the members in a low-key way that assists rather than irritates!
Read more: The next chapter in professional networking
“Most people in the City work incredibly hard.”
We are having a launch party later this year. The format is not finalised yet and we would love to hear what an ideal networking event should look like from your perspective?
As long as the food and drink are good and the venue has enough space, these things usually flow pretty well. And don’t do it on a Monday!
James is immaculately presented, ambitious and respected in his sector: three key aspects that have been central to his career success. Luck coupled with hard work have also played a part in determining his ability to get ahead in the insurance industry. Importantly his efficient relationship building across the key city professions, particularly with lawyers, has been vital. Let’s not forget the power of networking, albeit the need to find a balance between work and play. Clearly, James has established himself as one of the city’s influencers and we can see why.
ALFIES is a complimentary exclusive membership only network for individuals in the accountancy, law, finance and insurance professions.
Over a thousand of people from four business critical sectors are already able to benefit from:
- Focused industry updates from leading periodicals in a dedicated newsfeed;
- Access to upcoming events with industry thought leaders and influencers;
- Superb offers provided by our lifestyle and hospitality partners; and
- A bespoke private marketplace to buy and sell to fellow colleagues in your marketplace.
Request your free membership at alfies.com and start building your professional circle.