Here’s what a student found out as DAS CEO for a day
Authored by DAS UK
During our Diversity and Inclusion Week, the DAS Family Network introduced a new initiative inviting you to involve your family in your work life. ‘CEO for the Day’ gave an opportunity for the son or daughter of a DAS UK employee to spend a full day shadowing our CEO, Andrew Burke.
Our successful candidate was Luke Netherclift, son of ATE Underwriter Ashley Netherclift. Luke is a student at Warwick University, and spent the day with Andrew to experience a typical day as the CEO of DAS UK Group. We asked Luke to write a blog about his experience, which he has managed to squeeze in alongside a jam-packed university schedule!
DAS UK CEO for a day: An insight into the life of the Chief Everything Officer
On Monday the 25th March, I was lucky enough to work with DAS CEO Andrew Burke for the day. The day was designed to offer an experience into the day-to-day life of Andrew and how he successfully manages DAS. In this post I will be outlining a bit about myself before discussing what the day entailed and what I learned from it, offering any suggestions which I have. I hope you enjoy it!
I am currently in my first year at Warwick University studying Sustainable Development and Business. This course is based around developing a complex understanding and create solutions to global issues such as climate change, inequality and poverty. I want to make an impact in developing solutions through using the power of business and am currently setting up an enterprise, The People’s Backpack, which aims to tackle the Global Refugee Crisis.
I hope to set up more companies promoting sustainable development in the future. I would also like to play a part in helping established corporations change their unsustainable practices, which is one of the biggest barriers in sustainability, due to the power which these companies have.
Corporate social responsibility
I was very interested in finding out what DAS is doing in terms of developing their Corporate Social Responsibility. It was great to talk to Employee Engagement Manager Caitlin Kirwan about the work that DAS is doing around projects that support the local Bristol community and the amount of charity events which raise money and awareness for important causes such as charities tackling climate change.
Another inspiring initiative was that there were no disposable plastic cups being used within the building, which significantly reduces the amount of plastic waste being produced. It would be great to see these corporate social responsibility schemes developed into a country-wide campaign. Corporations have a large role to play in sustainable development and it would be great to see DAS being more vocal in pioneering for best business practice.
I enjoyed discussing with Andrew the business case for tackling issues such as climate change, as it will reduce the number of claims which DAS, ERGO and Munich RE have to pay out. This highlighted a large incentive within the insurance industry for promoting a sustainable future, as well as being able to make a positive change in society.
The inner workings of a large company
I also applied for the CEO for a Day experience because I was interested in gaining an insight into how a large company operates. In particular, I have an interest in how the management of employees can ensure that workers are motivated, find meaning and are proud of the work which they do for their company.
I think this is highly important for a company to succeed and it was interesting talking to Kate Banks (Group Director of HR & Legal Services) and Caitlin about how employee engagement is promoted through the employee wellbeing programme and recognition awards.
Andrew developed my understanding of how to get the best out of his workers through conveying the importance of emotional intelligence. He highlighted that it was crucial to gain a deep understanding of employees so that you can support them if they need help and motivate them to work hard.
Life in the office
One preconception which I had of DAS was that there would be separation from Andrew and the rest of the team. However, the reality was quite the opposite! The integration of Andrew’s office with the rest of the team and the glass wall created an open and friendly environment.
This was complemented by the welcoming nature of Andrew and all of the staff, which I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to. Despite knowing a very limited amount about the insurance or legal industry, every member of staff explained the different areas clearly which allowed me to gain an overview of the business.
As well as this, it was great to be allowed the freedom to ask questions and offer my suggestions in meetings. Andrew conveyed that it was critical to value every member of their team, and I noticed he would often ask for everyone’s opinion before giving his own and making a decision.
The open nature of the layout and staff highlighted the importance that authenticity and integrity is key to successfully managing a business. I learnt how important it is to deal with difficult conversations and not put them to one side which can ultimately leads to things getting worse. This is something which I have found myself guilty of sometimes and so I hope to implement this advice in my own life.
Confidentiality and customer data
Maintaining the confidentiality and protecting their customers was an area which I had not considered to be of great importance for DAS. However, the meetings with Paul, Will, Jenny and Tony all conveyed that it is important for DAS to continue their protocol of taking the necessary steps to safeguard this information. This highlighted the amount of data which these companies have, which DAS can use to develop their business; however, it is essential to maintain the safety of this personal information.
One key takeaway from spending the day with Andrew was the number and complexity of the decisions which he regularly had to make. These decisions were often very difficult with their being no clear right or wrong decision. Making a bad choice may have costly financial and reputational consequences for DAS UK, it’s employees and other stakeholders.
To me, this highlighted the difficulty of being in an executive position as it requires you to be strong and choose the pathway which you see as the best way to lead the company.
What I learned
Overall this experience was one which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it taught me some key lessons which I hope to use in my career and offer to other people. Thank you to everyone who explained the finance, marketing, auditing, ATE, law, engagement, sustainability and Data sides of DAS.
Whether we’re a CEO or not, we can all strive to be more honest, accountable and mindful individuals and this will make us better leaders in our own lives and for those around us. I couldn’t recommend this experience more and it is something which I would love to see DAS do again to support more young people at the beginning of their career path.
Thank you to everyone who made it such a special and rewarding day and all the best to everyone at DAS for the future!
DAS Group UK has been a pioneer of the legal expenses insurance market since the concept was first introduced to the UK in 1975. DAS provides protection against unforeseen legal costs to millions of families and motorists, and hundreds of thousands of businesses every year, offering both before-the-event and after-the-event insurance products and a range of telephone advice and assistance services, including the flagship legal advice service.
DAS is an authorised and regulated insurance company, based in Bristol, with offices in London, Manchester and Bedwas, South Wales, as well as subsidiaries in Arundel, Dublin and Toronto. DAS employs some 600 staff and has become one of the UK's leading specialist insurers.
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