Innovation in digital technology at AXA

posted by on 16 Nov 2017

Our International Customer-OnLine team was thrilled to be nominated for Digital Team of the Year earlier this year. Development Manager Vikki Bowman tells us all about the innovative work the team is currently producing and how Agile has transformed their offering.

Being a manager in IT, an important part of my role is to oversee communications within the engineering and delivery team, building motivation and ensuring there’s good engagement across the wider IT team. That really is the key to creating an environment where innovative ideas can be brought to life, and one of the reasons we’ve switched to an Agile way of working.

In the past, we followed a method that saw system changes implemented twice a year, so it could take up to six months for people outside of IT to see the improvements. But since 2014, following our move to Agile delivery, changes are now made fortnightly. And it’s making a big difference. The International Customer-OnLine team has been able to introduce lots of new and innovative features for customers recently, and that’s why they were finalists for Digital Team of the Year at Computing’s Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2017.

Customer First

Putting the Customer First is one of AXA’s core global values, and is something that’s at the heart of everything we do.

The switch to Agile has allowed us to launch new features and improvements for our customers in a short space of time, each designed to make things easier for them. We’ve redesigned our AXA PPP International customer portal to make it mobile responsive, so our customers can find the information they need, when they need it. There’s a new display and way of managing claims payment preferences, the navigation structure and homepage now focuses on user experience so it’s much more intuitive, and we can now highlight renewal information and documents for customers six weeks before their renewal date.

Thanks to our Agile way of working and ability to collaborate across teams, we’ve built a much more informative portal, ensuring that the customer is in control and has everything they need at their fingertips. Our ultimate aim is to be able to implement changes on-demand, based on our customers’ needs.

Developer of the Year finalist: Lee Motley

Developer Lee Motley

As well as receiving a nomination as part of the Digital Team of the Year at Computing Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2017, Lee Motley, Principal Developer in the team, was nominated as Developer of the Year. Lee returned to AXA PPP healthcare in 2005 as a graduate after completing a placement year with us in 2003.

“He’s a fantastic member of the team,” says Vikki. “The nomination was well deserved as he frequently mentors junior members of the team, drives through new technology and remains calm under pressure. He helps drive innovative work – he’s always thinking about the bigger picture.”

Lee said: “Being nominated as Developer of the Year is a great honour and really demonstrates the supportive environment we have here at AXA. Being given the opportunity to grow technically and be recognised for that work is a great motivating factor. The ability to work in an Agile environment which encourages innovation is something that not every developer gets to experience, so it’s fantastic to be working in such an organisation.”

Recently Lee has been looking into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how digital assistants such as Cortana and Alexa can make a difference. In April, he led a team from AXA PPP at a Global AXA Hackathon collaborating with peers from across the globe to deliver a prototype ChatBot.


The bigger (IT) picture

But being part of the IT crowd at AXA isn’t just about Agile principles and customer portals, we also organise and get involved in a whole host of activities and events designed to give everyone at AXA a voice and the chance to contribute to innovative ideas and projects. 

Over the past few years, we have been involved in arranging and participating in three AXA hackathons – multi-day events where people from across the business collaborate to solve problems and challenges designed to improve the way we do things. It’s great to see everyone working together, and for the ideas that come out of the event to be turned into reality.

As well as organising the AXA hackathons, we are very active in companywide events. In 2017, two teams from AXA PPP IT were top ten finalists at AXA UK and Ireland’s Collaboratory innovation programme. Over 400 ideas from across the UK and Ireland were submitted to the challenge asking for ideas to help change the future of AXA. We’re very proud that one of our two finalists reached and won the final stage. After three months of hard work, it all came down to a two-day hackathon and one final pitch in London. The winning team will work to deliver their idea in 2018, and get to visit the European Innovation Hub to help bring their vision to life. I can’t wait to see what they produce!

Thanks to Vikki for sharing her insight into life in IT at AXA PPP healthcare. Our IT department have a lot more innovation activities planned for the future, so if you’d like to be part of it, take a look at our current vacancies and apply today.

categories: AXA people  Innovation at AXA  IT 

Reverse Mentoring: an intrepid new direction

posted by on 27 Oct 2017

Mentoring Up is a reverse-mentorship initiative shaking up the way we learn at AXA. It’s a brave, radical new approach. Vania Arianoutsou, part of the Mentoring Up team and Learning Business Partner at AXA, is here to talk us through it.

There’s no disputing the facts: according to a 2016 Deloitte survey, 61% of millennials benefit from having a mentor, with over 80% being pleased with their work-mentor balance. While this is an undeniably positive result, it views the idea of mentorship under a pretty narrow scope – that is, a junior team member being aided in their development by a more senior player in the team.

At AXA we like to think differently. Broader. Wider. More far reaching. We’re always looking for ways to improve and – if we think something can be done better – we’re not afraid to turn the status quo on its head. That’s why we developed Mentoring Up, a unique mentorship initiative.

Mentoring Up

Meeting the training needs of our business: that’s the role of the Learning Development team at AXA. We work with HR business partners to make sure teams at AXA have the opportunities for development they need to grow professionally and advance our business. Since being introduced, Mentoring Up has become a key part of the team’s role.

But what is it? Well, in a way it’s the opposite of mentoring: it recognises there are knowledge gaps all around, realises everyone has something unique to share, and leverages skills and experience across the business to empower everyone to develop together. We’ve found that it really helps to encourage learning our senior leadership call out for it!

By doing away with traditional top-down mentorship, you open up the opportunity for all-inclusive growth. Mentees learn about topics they are unfamiliar with, while mentors have the chance to share their expertise and – in doing so – build confidence and presentation and coaching skills. It brings the whole business closer together, widening exposure and setting a foundation for relationships between senior management and more junior team members.

After first introducing reverse mentorship via a 2015 pilot scheme, we decided to relaunch the initiative for this year. From cyber security to social media, mental health to changing social climates, we asked senior managers to suggest areas they wanted to develop understanding in, before inviting everyone at AXA to apply to become a reverse mentor in one of the topics. We received over 50 applications in a couple of months and are set to go live in November – it’s really exciting!

Our Pledge

At AXA, we believe every individual should have a voice, and every person should be given the tools they need to develop. Mentorship shouldn’t be a one-way street – the traditional approach reinforces hierarchy and overlooks the fact that we all have something to learn, and something to share. That’s the driving force behind Mentoring Up: it’s a way to enable continuous learning, encourage participation from every employee, and forge closer relationships across the business.

One of AXA’s core values is courage, and we believe Mentoring Up embodies and empowers this value. The initiative was born because we were bold enough to be different – and, by creating it, we’ve opened up an avenue for people to speak up and make a difference. Our hope is that Mentoring Up will allow people from across the group to learn from one another, to appreciate the wealth of knowledge available to them and to continue our common development as a company.

We can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

categories: AXA people  Development at AXA  Life at AXA 

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