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Find out how Andrew went from the Merchant Navy to becoming a Trainee Underwriter with AXA in this edition of Career Switch.
What's your job role at AXA, and how long have you been here?
I joined AXA in July 2023 as a Trainee Fleet Underwriter. I’ve only been here for a short time, but I’ve enjoyed getting involved and learning the role as I go.
What do you do in your role?
I assess and evaluate the risks associated with a fleet of vehicles. I work closely with the rest of my team and our brokers to make sure these risks are assessed appropriately and mitigated as much as possible. No two days are the same and that’s what makes my daily role in branch so interesting.
Tell us your career background up to the point of your career switch.
When I left school, I started an apprenticeship role as a Deck Cadet working on oil tankers. While it was a good opportunity to travel and obtain qualifications, it was also quite an isolating career path. Because of this, I came home and started studying for an Accounting & Finance degree at the University of Glasgow. While at uni, I had a part-time job with motor finance company. I joined them as a Credit Risk Analyst where my role mostly involved assessing the eligibility of people applying for personal car finance.
What was the process for switching your career?
While working in motor finance, several colleagues mentioned that they had worked or wanted to work in the insurance industry. I hadn’t ever considered working in insurance because it wasn’t something that was really advertised to graduates. I’d enjoyed my time in motor finance, so I did some research into the insurance industry and discovered that my experience would transfer well into an Underwriting role.
I started to look for graduate roles in the industry, but they were very few and far between. Most insurance companies were looking for individuals who already had underwriting experience. Luckily a trainee role appeared with AXA just as I was coming to the end of my university degree.
What challenges did you face during your career switch?
One challenge was the initial struggle of finding a relevant graduate opportunity within the industry. I was really lucky that the role at AXA appeared at the right time. Also coming into the world of insurance with no prior experience in the industry was definitely a challenge.
Did you feel supported by your colleagues and managers?
Even though it was challenging, I’ve felt very supported from my very first day. The initial two weeks of training that I received was a brilliant introduction into the world of insurance. Since then, I’ve had continuous support and guidance from all my colleagues.
What is the value of a company offering career flexibility?
Lots of my colleagues have changed roles or departments within AXA. Having this flexibility to transfer internally lets you develop your career and progress in a way that’s tailored to your needs, and AXA get to hold onto experienced colleagues. It’s a win-win. It goes to show that AXA cares about an individual’s goals. As I progress in my career, I know AXA will be there to assist with my development when it matters most.
Now that you're in your role, what most excites you about the future?
I’m excited to obtain my first Underwriting license and continue my professional development through CII qualifications. It’s great to be involved in a company that places so much focus on our development as individuals.
I’ve also entered the company at an exciting time in its own development with lots of progress being made on the Blueprint program. It'll be interesting to see the impact that this program has on my role as an Underwriter and the additional resources and capabilities it will give us.
What advice would you give to others who are thinking about switching roles?
A career switch can be daunting, but it’s an exciting opportunity to develop your professional skillset. And with the huge number of roles available across the insurance industry, I’d highly recommend that everyone considers it as a career path!