What exactly does an Operations Graduate do?

Gregory Hadfield

There must have been something about Hiscox that I couldn’t resist. After having got to the final stage of selection for the graduate programme in 2018 I was forced to pull out for ill health reasons. But, a year later, I found myself applying again and was selected as an Operations Graduate.

Operations? What’s that all about? Very simply it’s about making the business faster, leaner and better. So, it wasn’t a surprise to find myself put to work almost immediately to do just that.

Dropping by for a web chat
The first project I found myself leading was a chance to revamp the web chat function customers use when buying their insurance direct on our website. How well was it performing? Were customers finding it effective? What could be improved? In many ways this was a daunting start. Relatively fresh from finishing my Business Studies and German degree, I didn’t know anything about insurance. But it turns out, that didn’t matter. What Hiscox was looking for was a fresh pair of eyes to take a fresh look.

I was trusted to use my own initiative – no one was setting up meetings for me – but I had access through my line manager and senior sponsor (every grad gets a senior sponsor) to talk to all parts of the business from IT, to underwriting and marketing. As a result, I made a series of recommendations to improve the web chat service, and these were subsequently implemented. There can’t be many jobs where as a newbie graduate you have the chance to make a genuine impression on the business from the off.

Thank you for calling Hiscox
Next up was a project to look at Hiscox’s automated voice system and work out how it could be improved for the benefit of our customers. Again, I worked with all parts of the Hiscox business to find out where we could do better and this time, combining my analyst role with one of project management, I also led the implementation phase for my recommendations and we had some good results. I also found myself – no pressure! – presenting the project and its results to the UK’s senior leaders…access to Hiscox’s most senior people is not a problem for anyone in this business.

I then moved on to work within the chief operating officer’s team looking at how Hiscox UK is organised and how we could better service our brokers. Again, it turned out the business valued the fresh perspective I could bring, and it was a valuable experience providing me with a broad overview of how the business works while trusted to be working with senior people in the team.

Outside Ops
The Operations Graduate scheme works on a rotation basis over the two years, and one of those rotations is outside of your chosen field so I moved to underwriting standards and governance, to give me a taste of the underwriting world. Again, I was entrusted to meet all Hiscox’s heads of underwriting for different products to understand who their ideal customers are, what risks they want to underwrite and the ones they were less keen on.

My job was to pull together a consistent view of Hiscox’s underwriting appetite so that could be applied across the business, which I then presented back to the chief underwriting officer. This rotation in particular, has given me a strong understanding of the products we sell and who we sell them to, while it also confirmed how fundamental operations is to the future success of Hiscox.

Energy and buzz
Something big is happening in insurance; digitisation is taking off, bringing big changes and operations finds itself at the heart of that transformation. There is a real energy and buzz here, and in operations you can make a real difference very quickly. That decision to reapply for the second time to the graduate programme gets better all the time.

Find out more about our graduate programme.