My Dyslexia: Thinking around problems

posted by on 16 Oct 2017

Annabel Smith, one of our Actuarial Analysts, joined AXA a month ago and loves putting her maths skills to the test every day.

When did you find out you had Dyslexia?

It wasn’t until I went to university to study Maths that I decided to get tested for Dyslexia. My Psychology teacher suggested it while I was doing my A Levels as I kept muddling words up. The diagnosis was confirmed, which meant that while I was at university I had extra time to read the exam papers, and it was really useful. My A levels were all humanities subjects, except for Maths, so I would have benefitted earlier had I known, but I just thought everyone had the same difficulties as me.

What appealed to you about becoming an Actuarial Analyst at AXA?

After university, I became a teacher for two years, but it wasn’t for me. In this time I also did an MA at King’s College, London. I enjoyed it but found the amount of essays quite tricky. Eventually, I decided that I should be utilising my maths skills and joined AXA as an Actuary, which I did a month ago. I really enjoyed the assessment centre, I was nervous but the whole ethos was great and the team came across really well, it made me want to join the company immediately!

How does your Dyslexia benefit your work?

My Dyslexia forces me to think around a problem. For example, when I was in school, I wouldn’t learn spellings, I would just memorise them, which worked for the purposes of the test, but didn’t actually teach me how to spell. My ability to think differently is really good when it comes to problem solving.

What’s your advice to other people with Dyslexia who are job hunting?

My advice when it comes to Dyslexia is to be open about it. When I was invited to the assessment centre, I mentioned it and everyone at AXA was really good about allowing me extra time to complete the tests, which I needed. When you’re searching for jobs, I would whole-heartedly recommend letting the company you’re applying to know you’re Dyslexic beforehand so they can take any sort of adjustments into account. It’s good to explore your opportunities – ultimately you need to find somewhere that works for you.

Interested to learn more about dyslexia at AXA? Charlie talks about how AXA’s flexible working has supported him to play to his strengths in the blog, Ideas, strategy and connected thinking – Charlie’s dyslexia story. And Sophia has some great tips for dealing with dyslexia in the workplace in her blog, Dyslexia won’t hold you back at AXA.

categories: Actuaries  AXA people  Dyslexia  Employee story 

Ideas, strategy and connected thinking – Charlie’s dyslexia story

posted by on 11 Oct 2017

At AXA, we believe diverse teams are more successful than ones where everyone is the same. Here, Charlie Beadle explains how he’s been supported with his dyslexia and the importance of looking at your strengths.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia by a psychologist when I was about six years old. My school spotted that whilst I was really good at some tasks, my reading age was low and I struggled to spell words like ‘and’ and ‘to’. Throughout my time at primary and secondary school I had lots of extra time and support, especially when it came to exams. I ended up getting an A in my English Literature GCSE and achieved ABB in my Media, Psychology and PE A levels – I never would have been able to achieve that without the extra support I had. I went on to Exeter University and got a 2.1 in Business Management and later went back to university to do a Masters in Organisational Analysis and HRM at Kings College in London.

Working life

I currently work for AXA as a Talent Sourcing Partner, which means I headhunt great talent for AXA. It suits me as it plays to my strengths of being able to verbally interact with people about AXA. In my previous role and organisation, my role was a lot broader and involved a lot more admin, which is not my strong point. At AXA, I’m able to work from home on some days, which helps me then get through my e-mails and admin in a quiet environment. Open plan offices with lots of phones ringing and people talking can be distracting for someone who is dyslexic. There are also lots of focus rooms in our London office, so I can sit in a quiet zone for tasks that require more concentration.  

The ideas man

My manager, Karen, is really supportive. She knows to give me extra time to write things down during our catch-up meetings, and even lets me record conversations so that I can play them back, to make sure I’ve got all the information I need. And while there are many perceived negatives associated with dyslexia, I always like to focus on the benefits or strengths that I get from it. I’m really good at lateral and connected thinking, for example. And if you’re looking for strategy or ideas, I’m your man! In my short time here, my manager has said that I’ve already come up with lots of useful ideas that she hadn’t previously thought of, so I’m looking forward to growing my role in time.  

If you’re dyslexic and currently looking for a job, my top tip would be, don’t hide it. In my first job, I didn’t want anyone to know, but actually, not only will people be able to help you, you’ll be able to utilise your skills much better.

 

Interested to learn more about dyslexia at AXA? Sophia shares her experience of disclosing her dyslexia when applying for our graduate programme and offers some top tips for dealing with dyslexia in the workplace in her blog, Dyslexia won’t hold you back at AXA.

categories: AXA people  Dyslexia  Employee story  Life at AXA 

A day in the life of an Account Manager in the Bristol Broker Hub

posted by on 28 Sep 2017

We caught up with Natasha to hear all about what it’s really like to work in the Bristol Broker Hub.

“The Broker Hub went live in March 2016. It was created to support and work with intermediaries who may not have considered selling Private Medical Insurance to their clients. My role as an Account Manager involves helping them develop and grow their SME Private Medical Insurance portfolio.

I start a typical day by following up on opportunities: when an intermediary has requested a proposal for their client I need to call them to ensure that they have everything they need to recommend AXA PPP healthcare. This involves gathering market feedback to see how we compare to our competitors and then working with our pricing team to improve our terms to make them as competitive as the risk allows us to, increasing our chances of winning the business.

As well as supporting intermediaries who already work with us, I also have to implement brand new relationships. This involves calling up intermediaries who have never worked with AXA PPP healthcare before. They may not understand anything about Private Medical Insurance, so I call them to introduce myself as their Internal Account Manager. I then complete a ‘fact find’ to find out about them and their business, so I can get an idea of: how I can support the intermediary going forward, how PMI would fit with their client base, and ultimately how I can encourage them to include Private Medical Insurance in their current portfolio.

It’s really satisfying to help intermediaries develop their portfolios to include PMI and assist them to make their first sale, which typically goes on to make further sales. I have also had the chance to visit some of my clients with my External Account Manager, which I’ve really enjoyed.
I work with a fantastic team; we support one another by sharing ideas and best practice – we’re always bouncing ideas of one another. It’s really important that we remain focused on nurturing new relationships and finding new opportunities to promote AXA-PPP Healthcare. We also get a bonus based on the amount of successful calls we have with new brokers and also the premium we sell. To be successful in this role, you need to be friendly, great at building rapport, have pro-active portfolio management skills and you certainly can’t be afraid of the phone!”

Interested in joining Natasha’s team? Please click here to find out more about our current opportunities in Bristol.

categories: AXA people  AXA PPP healthcare  bristol  Bristol Broker Hub 

From couch potato to Tough Mudder – Mark’s Fitbit story

posted by on 26 Sep 2017

Here at AXA, we’re committed to inspiring our employees to lead active lifestyles, helping them make improvements and encouraging exercise wherever we can. We caught up with Mark Austen, to hear all about how his Fitbit, provided by AXA, has transformed his life.

Finding my Fitbit feet

“I joined AXA six years ago and I’m currently an Account Manager, looking after large corporation clients who have Private Medical Insurance with AXA. A huge part of my role is talking to clients about products and health and wellbeing services that AXA provides. One of the incentives we offer AXA Private Medical clients is providing their employees with fitness trackers – like Fitbits – at a discounted rate. To help Account Managers understand and upsell the initiative, we were issued with Fitbits last year.

Being the Sales team, it’s in our nature to be competitive, so it didn’t take too long for someone to discover the Fitbit app. This was a game-changer; we could now see each other’s steps, and there were challenges that the whole team could take part in, in order to top the app’s leader board. What started as trying to hit 10,000 steps to beat my colleagues turned into a daily routine. I was finding on a typical day at work I’d be lucky to do 4,000 or 5,000 steps, so the only way to get over 10,000 steps was to go out and walk for an hour in the evening when I got back from work, which I found I loved.

Pushing myself

Being the sort of person I am, I started looking at my 6km walk route as a personal challenge. Through walking I got a bit fitter and one evening I decided to try and run some of my route. I started running quite slowly to see how far I could go and whilst I was knackered after a few hundred metres, I found that if I walked a bit more then ran a bit more I could get round my route a little bit quicker each time. Over the next six months I got from the point of barely being able to run to being able to run the 6km route without stopping at all.

Two months on I was feeling good about myself and was starting to see improvements in how I looked and felt. A friend who had been trying to persuade me for ages to join the gym, finally wore me down and I agreed to give it a try. It helped that AXA had just started offering a 50% discount on PureGym membership – something we provide to clients as well as AXA employees. Spurred on by my friend, I started to see real improvements over the next 8-10 months – I was stronger, fitter and felt better than I had in 20 years.

Seeing the results

The results are certainly visible – I’ve gone from a size large to small! I recently looked at an old photo and didn’t recognise myself, so I put it on Facebook to show my friends the change over the last 18 months. I captioned it “if this fat 45 year old bloke can do it, anyone can” and got a hugely positive response with loads of people messaging me and wanting to know how I did it. One of the biggest surprises was not the physical change in my body, but the way this journey has helped my mental health – I have more energy, I’m less stressed, I’m more confident and more able to deal with life’s ups and downs.

Since starting this challenge I’ve got fit and feel great. I even took part in a couple of Tough Mudders with some colleagues, where we dragged ourselves through dirt for 10km. If you’d told me I’d be doing that two years ago I wouldn’t have believed you. The changes I’ve made have been hard and taken a lot of focus and perseverance but they can all be traced back to a day in February 2016 when AXA gave me a Fitbit and I couldn’t be more grateful!”

categories: AXA people  Sales 

The assessment centre explained

posted by on 21 Sep 2017

You’ve successfully applied for a Customer Service or Claims role at AXA and are now through to the next stage: the assessment centre. Resourcing Partner, Jen Manuel. tells us exactly what you should expect.

What is an assessment centre?

An assessment centre is a different way of interviewing. It involves a mixture of activities and exercises as well as some competency based questions. It’s around half a day, so a bit longer than a traditional interview.

What will I do at an assessment centre?

There is usually a group activity or a one to one activity. The one to one could involve you taking a phone call from a customer – this is actually a member of the assessment centre team – and you’ll need to respond to their queries and requests. It’s all about testing how you respond to a customer. You’ll be able to prepare for this beforehand. If you’re involved in a group activity, you’ll need to solve a problem as a group. However, we’re not necessarily looking for you to solve the problem, more at how you work together as a team. We’re looking at how individuals come across, whether they let others speak, listen to ideas and are engaged with the activity.

Top tip: If you’re shy or have nothing to contribute, you can still show that you’re engaged, by asking simple questions, like: “That’s a good idea, tell me more.” It shows that you’re willing to take part.

What can you expect on the day?

Make sure you’re prepared – each assessment centre is slightly different. You should get an email outlining your day at the assessment centre, so read through it and make sure you know what’s going to happen.

Top tip: We want to make sure you feel comfortable about what’s expected of you, so if you haven’t got the email or you have any questions, get in touch!

How to prepare for your assessment centre

Do you know where you’re going? Is there parking available? Do you know your route and how long it will take? Have you made any notes you’d like to bring with you? Do you have your documents in order? You’ll need to bring your proof of eligibility to work in the UK, like your passport, and proof of address.

Top tip: If something was to happen that delayed your journey, make sure you have the contact details of the assessment centre or who you’re meeting, so that you can let them know if you’ll be late.

Nervous? Don’t be.

If you’re feeling a little anxious, it’s good to be prepared, that way you’ll know what’s expected of you and what you need to do to be successful. Don’t forget that no-one wants you to fail – the assessment centre is your chance to get across the best version of yourself. Finally, be mindful of the bigger picture. Your assessment centre is not a competition, the people you meet could well be your new team mates.

categories: Careers advice