What did I learn from meetings with Sir Clive Woodward (England Rugby coach from 2003), Charles Philipps (Amlin CEO) & Stuart Davies (Sompo Canopius CEO) this week?

What did I learn from meetings with Sir Clive Woodward (England Rugby coach from 2003), Charles Philipps (Amlin CEO) and Stuart Davies (Sompo Canopius’s CEO) this week?

This week I met with these three leaders for coffee  – all who are at the top of their industry and I learnt an awful lot from them. All inspirational in their own way but the one thing they all had in common was that they are obsessive and have never stopped learning. The advice they all gave me for running my  a business was different but all came back to the same thing which was, “GREAT TEAMS ARE MADE OF GREAT INDIVIDUALS!”

Clive talked religiously about how the team was so focused on being the best in every single area it could be, they left no stone unturned in their pursuit of winning the World Cup and being the best team in the world. He felt that talent alone is not enough and you need to be obsessed with the detail. He said that the average royal marine officer is 21 and has never seen conflict but they are the best in the world at what they do down to continued practice and roleplay of every scenario they can possibly face. He liked the fact that I was confident enough as a 31-year-old Director to reach out and ask these Industry leaders for their advice and was happy to be out of my comfort zone in these meetings.

Charles having grown Amlin from £250m revenue to £3bn, now said that the Insurance world is so stuck in the past and needs to catch up with the rest of the world. He said this change needs to come from the bottom up and from other areas, they have just hired a data expert from Virgin who has brought a new dynamic to the business altogether. Charles said he has only ever wanted the top 1% of people to work at Amlin and continues to hire in this fashion, second class just doesn’t work for him.

Stuart has a straightforward way of thinking that he applies at Sompo Canopius – he wants the best people working in his business.  He explained how he wants people who are continuously going to push themselves and learn each and every day, even – or especially – when there’s a lot of change going on.

All three of them are so passionate about what they do. They don’t do it for the money – clearly they do it because they love the rush and excitement they gain from it every day. The other thing they all had in common was they were so willing to give me their time and advice about what we should be doing with our business here at HFG. Clive and Charles both left me with the thought of never stop learning, be a sponge (they both are) and learn from everyone around you.

“Champions are transparent and always think people can help them.” Clive Woodward

Never stop learning.

-WG –


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