Hello Greg, thank you for taking the time to talk about HIPO with us today. To get us started, could you tell us how long you’ve been working with Specialist Risk Group (SRG) and what you’re responsible for?
Thanks for having me. Absolutely! I have been working for SRG since April 2019, so that’s over three years now.
My title is Infrastructure Manager, which means that I am responsible for the infrastructure support team within the IT Department. The team is made up of seven individuals and we provide the business with day-to-day support on all applications used within the business. We ensure our colleagues throughout the business are comfortable using our technology and look for strategic alternatives wherever possible.
I am also heavily involved in integrating any new acquisitions into the SRG IT framework. So far I’ve been involved in the integrations of 14 legal entities throughout my career.
And why did you choose to join SRG?
When the company started to grow, I was approached by a member of staff that worked here, who I had previous experience working with at another company.
I knew that SRG was undergoing an ambitious and rapid growth phase through a robust M&A strategy. This appealed to me as it is fair to say that it is not too common for an IT professional to be exposed to such a high volume of integrations in such a condensed time. I knew this was the ideal environment to fast-track my learning and move forward with my career.
What roles did you have before joining SRG?
I have only had one other role prior to SRG. This was at another insurance company and I joined them as an IT apprentice in April 2012, I was 17 at the time and I worked there for around seven years.
During that time, I underwent a lot of IT-related Microsoft examinations. I was not managing anyone in this role, and my career goal was to become an IT Operations Support Executive. I was mainly helping my colleagues with any IT needs. It was not a strategic role and I could not foresee any opportunities at that company for this pathway. The experience I gained was great and it was good fun, but I wanted to take a step up in my career.
Can you explain what HIPO is, and how you came to join the programme?
The idea of the programme was to identify future leaders of the business and unlock their potential, ultimately furthering their careers, whether that is in a managerial sense or skill specific. It was all about getting you to think and act differently in specific professional situations.
It came to my attention literally just because our People and Culture team sent out an email. I sought the approval of my line manager and completed the application. Fortunately, I was accepted!
What was the process like and what were you looking to take away from the training?
The programme was affected by COVID in terms of delivery so what should have been 12 months was 18 months. We had one session a month, which was led by different members of the senior leadership team. These sessions were varied, so sometimes we would shadow members of staff, and other times we would meet with an external, assigned mentor. The kick-off session was held in The Shard, which was a great experience.
The programme gave us great exposure to ask questions directly to the Warren (Group CEO) and Lee (Deputy Group CEO) and other members of the senior leadership team. It involved other SRG colleagues from different areas of the business, we’d shadow a member of the finance team for example. This was helpful because it gave us a 360 view of how each department contributes to the company.
I wanted to join the HIPO programme in order to give myself some exposure to our senior leaders and to develop my ‘soft skills’ that were specifically related to the manager role I was stepping into. I recognised the fortunate timing of the two.
How has the HIPO programme impacted your personal development and your career within SRG?
It helped me to smoothly step into managing my team to the best of my ability. It also helped me to better pass on my own knowledge to members of my team, which in turn helps their career development.
I spoke at the annual ‘Hub’ event, where all our companies come together for business updates. I don’t think I would have had this opportunity without the HIPO programme.