Annie Wakeman – Head of Marketing

SRG, The Hub event, comm by Eleanor Bridger

We recently caught up with our Head of Marketing, Annie Wakeman. Marketing forms part of our platform, which you can find out more about here.

In this spotlight, Annie shares how she we nt from a Marketing Assistant to a Marketing Manager in the space of a year, why she chose to pursue a career in marketing and what she is looking forward to for the Group in 2024.

When did you join Specialist Risk Group (SRG) and what was your position at the time?

I joined what was just Miles Smith in July 2016 as a Marketing Assistant whilst on my placement year as part of a Business Studies degree. At the time, Miles Smith was a combination of UK wholesale and UK retail broking, and the marketing was quite events focussed. Although I had experience working for a software company, this was my first exposure to the world of insurance and working and living in London.

How has your role developed over the last seven years?

When I joined, I was learning the ropes of insurance and business, and I was putting a lot of what I had learnt during my degree into practice in a corporate environment. It was interesting to see how you can go from reading a textbook and taking exams, to learning what is actually helpful for a business from a commercial perspective.

I have always been drawn towards the strategic planning side of marketing, opposed to the creative side of it. I am more interested in learning about the business, the products offered and working out the best way to communicate and distribute them.

After completing my placement year, I went back to Bournemouth University for my final year but I continued working part time for Miles Smith so I would come up to London a couple of times a month. It was challenging juggling both, but it meant after I finished my degree, I was able to come back to work full time.

It seems funny looking back at it, but I went straight into a Marketing Manager role at Miles Smith. I was given greater responsibility and learnt line management, which was a huge step up. I didn’t know much at the time, but I had no fear, I was just so focused on working hard, getting the job done and doing the right thing for my manager and the company.

In 2018, a private equity company, Pollen Street Capital, acquired a majority stake in Miles Smith, and things moved pretty rapidly from then. I quickly became very focused on putting processes in place, many that are still in place today, so that marketing could support the business through a rapid stage of growth.

In January 2020, SRG was launched to our insurer partners at The Gherkin and each year things have developed more. Since then, lots of colleagues have joined, there has been more difficult decisions to make and more brands to manage and integrate within SRG. I get to speak with so many specialist business leaders and colleagues and I enjoy finding out more about them and how we can help them to hit their business objectives through marketing.

In 2020 through to 2021, I was part of the first HiPo cohort which I really enjoyed because it got me stepping outside of my role. Day to day, everything I see is through a marketing lens and therefore, being part of HiPo and spending time with people in different areas of the business was a great opportunity to reflect and build my network in the Group.

In the last couple of years, my team has grown, and I now have greater line management responsibilities. Management was always one of those things I knew I wanted, but you can’t appreciate how hard it is until you do it. It’s been a huge learning curve for me.

The past seven years have been really positive because my career and role has expanded so significantly and I have not had to move business to do that, which is a real privilege in my opinion.


“The past seven years have been really positive because my career and role has expanded so significantly and I have not had to move business to do that, which is a real privilege in my opinion.”

How did you prepare for transitioning from a Marketing Assistant to a Head of Marketing role?

Nothing could prepare me for it at the time! Now at SRG there is so much support around the types of training that managers receive – before they go into a role or when they start a role. SRG has a career level framework which helps guide and prepare us for growing in seniority and the types of behaviour that are expected of us as that happens. Although it was tough to go straight into a managerial role, I don’t regret it and it was the making of me.

What do you enjoy the most about your role?

I really enjoy the variety, the different types of marketing we do and working with different types of businesses. The culture at SRG allows us to push boundaries and we work hard to do things differently. Finally, I enjoy that I get to be creative, but in a commercially driven way.

What spiked your passion for pursuing a career in marketing?

Marketing can get tarnished with lots of different brushes, but the commercial side is what I am passionate about and I see the value of what marketing can do, especially in a digital world. The insurance industry, particularly broking, is behind the curve in terms of marketing and so it gets me out of the bed in the morning knowing that there is so much more we can do, value we can drive for the business and income we can generate.

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

My team is operating really well, and I am excited to see what they can achieve next year. I am also looking forward to developing further specialism within SRG. We are at a really exciting stage and some of the teams that have joined us this year are very niche, so it will be great to see how they integrate and contribute to the Group. It sounds cliché but I love learning so I can’t wait to meet new people and develop my knowledge.

I am also part of SRG’s Nextco which operates as a shadow board, and it has given me another valuable opportunity to form a network across the Group. We work on projects together and its really opened my eyes and changed my perspective on how different people approach different situations. It has been interesting working with them, and I look forward to what we can achieve for the Group in 2024.

On a personal note, in April 2024 I am running the London Marathon to fundraise for Versus Arthritis, a charity close to mine and my family’s hearts. I hope my fundraising helps to improve the quality of life of thousands of people living with arthritis.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone gave you at the beginning of your career?

It’s a marathon not a sprint!

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

My sisters because they are both so individual in their approach to things and they always make me want to reflect and challenge myself to be better. I try to learn from them and their perspectives and approaches, which are different to mine.

Secondly my mum and dad because of the family and life they have created for me and my sisters, and they have done that as a partnership. I have been so lucky to grow up in such a happy, loving family.

What do you do to grow professionally?

I read all the time, and I enjoy researching. I spend a lot of time looking at business to consumer (B2C) marketing trends. I like to think about how B2C trends can be applied to a business to business (B2B) audience; not following them, but how we can take inspiration from them.

I also speak to people constantly, in and out of the insurance industry. I like learning from other people: how they approach certain situations and why they do what they do.

What 3 words would you use to describe working at SRG?

I wouldn’t be on brand without saying ‘Difficult. Done Well.’ but I would say fun, entrepreneurial, and supportive.


Interested in finding out more about life at SRG? Click here.