The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Graham Gibson
What have been some of the key learnings for you since the UK fully re-opened over the summer?
It’s very clear we are not going back to how it was, but many businesses have adapted their models to a post-lockdown environment, operating in an agile and hybrid fashion. This agility is great from an entrepreneur’s perspective, but that also changes the type or level of cover they need – especially with more employees working part-time from home. The way we’re working and doing business has changed massively and we have a great opportunity to keep the best parts, like enjoying a good work/life balance and supporting local businesses.
As we move forward from the pandemic and look to the future, what business opportunity most excites you?
The transition to a net-zero economy is bringing a lot of business opportunities. We’re underwriting renewable energy installations like wind or solar farms and we’re providing specific products for electric vehicles, for instance. We’re also investing significant time and energy in a number of decarbonisation solutions across our supply chain and working with our strategic partners to make this happen.
Given the important part that technology has played in all sectors during the pandemic, how do you envisage technology developing in your organisation going forward?
During lockdown, we accelerated the roll out of our Claims Hub, a digital platform that allows fleet managers, brokers and customers more generally to log and track their claims online. We’ve been enhancing it constantly, adding a live chat function and then current position trackers, automated updates etc. Our ambition is to allow a customer to deal with their claim entirely online and we are very close! The pandemic has been difficult in so many ways but it has definitely improved innovation and speed.
With sustainability and ESG being more prevalent on the Board agenda, what is your business doing to meet net zero carbon emission targets by 2050, if not earlier?
As a business that is focused on risk and protection, we’re anticipating the risks of a changing climate and what that might mean, protecting vulnerable people and targeting investments to drive a low-carbon future. That means we’ll have stopped underwriting or investing in coal projects by 2040 or sooner. Also, our operations have been carbon neutral since 2012 and we’re committed to sourcing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2023. We have a very long list of actions either in play or being formulated and there are frankly too many to mention here.
At Allianz Claims, we have several initiatives to prioritise repairs over replacement. For property claims, we work with specialists that can fix surface damage on just about anything and we have significantly reduced landfill. And for motor claims, we’ve launched a platform with our salvage provider to help body shops procure green parts and reduce cost for our customers. We’re also launching a sustainable procurement charter to encourage and support our suppliers to take action.
I know just about every organisation has an ESG agenda but what really brings it home to me is how I get questioned about ESG from my 17 and 12 year-olds. This stuff really matters to them.
How has your business changed in its approach to employee wellbeing during the pandemic and what will it continue to do more of in the future?
We were already doing a tremendous amount in this space but perhaps lockdown has shed a light on the importance of social interactions and outdoor exercise, and showed their impact on mental wellbeing. We’ve been encouraging informal catch-ups between colleagues, but also urged teams to set aside meeting-free time, to get a rest from screens, 121 walks and much more. Some of us have enjoyed taking part in physical challenges like the Allianz World Run or charity initiatives. Alongside our wellbeing champions, mental health first aiders and GP access, which were already in place pre-pandemic, we have also given all our employees free access to the headspace app. We will continue with this and many other initiatives going forward.
Who or what has inspired you recently? (They don’t need to be famous)
My 12 year-old daughter, who of her own volition had her long blond locks cut off for the www.littleprincesses.org.uk. She said she would always have long hair, so it came as quite a shock when she turned up with a short bob (she didn’t tell me she was having this done). I completely welled up when she told me why and how she wanted to support children with cancer… very proud dad moment.
Hopefully you managed to have break over the summer, either abroad or a ‘stay cation’ – what was the highlight?
We had planned to go to Italy for my wife’s 50th in 2020 and again in 2021, but neither happened. A staycation in Cornwall with half the UK was what followed and frankly being in a different location for the first time in 18 months was great. My wife’s 50th birthday enters the 3rd year as apparently until we have been to Italy “it doesn’t count”.
Which book have you read recently and why would you recommend it?
I have a complete fascination about people and what makes them tick, so I tend to stick with biographies and “business books”. Just starting a book called Fake Law by the Secret Barrister. It basically contrasts “sound bite journalism/politics” against the true legal position… interesting.
What are you most looking forward to doing in 2022?
I have always enjoyed rugby and played, coached and refereed for many years, so I am really looking forward to going to a live game, in person.
Any words of wisdom?
Good leaders learn from the past and understand the present, but great ones change the future.