Collaborating with Right Management to develop and nurture future leaders

Collaborating with Right Management to develop and nurture future leaders
Tokio Marine Kiln is a leading international insurer providing specialist and corporate insurance products within the Lloyd’s and Company markets. We spoke with Andrew Sharples, Head of HR Operations and Talent at Tokio Marine Kiln regarding the impact of digitisation on their industry and how they are preparing for future talent challenges through their Career Development and emerging Leaders programmes.

Please could you provide us with an overview of your role, remit, and key responsibilities at Tokio Marine Kiln (TMK)?
I provide strategic direction and leadership for the HR Operations function, encompassing all HR process activities, and recruitment, reward and benefits, talent and development. My role is to develop, deliver and lead the organisation in achieving its people strategy and goals. My responsibilities also include managing the organisation’s succession, leadership and culture, and all aspects of talent, performance management, learning and development.

What is your personal definition of leadership?
Leadership is not a hierarchical achievement, or a badge we earn when we become ‘the boss’. It is something every employee at every level has an opportunity to demonstrate; the outward display of responsibility, ownership and understanding. It is important employees are encouraged to look beyond the job description and understand they each have a leadership role in the organisation.

This doesn’t mean we are or should be leaders all the time but we should make sure we are leading when it counts.

New technologies are not only demanding increasingly specialist skills but are impacting the traditional structures of many industries. Please could you talk us through the effect that digitisation is having on the insurance industry and the anticipated future effects?
There are two types of digital change taking place in our industry. The first is artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, allowing insurance companies to identify appropriate levels of cover and premiums. Most of the advances have been in the quotation and new business stages, but we are seeing increasing movement in claims digitisation and the development of technologies that are capable of fully automating the insurance lifecycle.

AI has worked effectively in the mass insurance market, where decision making can be predicted based on certain information categories. However in the London market, and this brings me to my second change, relationships play a pivotal role and decisions can be based equally on fact, instinct and emotion. Here, the focus will be on ensuring the skills and knowledge of the underwriters and those managing claims are accessible anytime and anywhere.

Shifting a highly traditional industry to one that can work just as effectively globally across different time zones, yet offers the same level of relationship and expertise, is a mammoth task. It will take not only the creation of new technologies and platforms, but the collaboration of organisations and regulators to understand the complexity of the changes and their impact.

The future role of the underwriter will be just as important as it has been for the last 300 years. However, traditional processes, locations and accessibility all require review and may have a dramatic impact on how the London market will operate in the future.

How critical is it for organisations to be reviewing and implementing changes to their current talent strategy in preparation for digitisation’s likely future impact and in order to remain competitive?
Strategic talent management has always been about ensuring the organisation has the competitive capabilities required now and in the future. This could be driven by economic, political or digital change; and can be gradual or immediate. A good talent strategy ensures you have the best people in the most important roles but also a pipeline of talent ready for the future. If your strategy is aligned to your business plan, takes into account market conditions, has an eye on the future of work and keeps abreast of workforce expectations, then changes in talent requirements should be predicted and managed effectively.

Digitisation has been hailed as next on the list of challenges; in truth, the rate of change is manageable and new talent is emerging in line with technological advances. The key is to be as current as possible and stay just a little ahead of the wave. Technology may be advancing quickly but each market can only move at its own pace. This allows organisations to recognise and to some degree understand new advances before they become fully integrated into the workplace.

Other significant changes, such as Brexit, had little warning; yet we still need to have the right talent in place and strategies for coping. This is why talent and succession models should no longer be based solely on existing roles and structures. At TMK, we create shadow succession plans in a bid to predict the long and short-term movement of staff based on skill and defined and potential future requirements.

How is TMK addressing these expected changes in relation to talent?
Using our talent management processes, we identify individuals throughout the organisation who have the potential to take on future technical and leadership roles. We have designed several programmes to develop and support employees at all stages of their working lives, all with the same theme and ultimate goal: to allow the employee to have an individual learning experience that identifies and targets their personal requirements.

Our Emerging Leaders and Career Development programmes are focused on delivering these goals for people at different stages of their careers and Right Management has been instrumental in the design and delivery of these. Our Emerging Leaders programme takes each employee through an exploration of leadership and its evolution. We explore leadership styles in the social and political context and see how elements of these styles make up the leadership techniques used today. The aim is to provide employees with a range of leadership experiences and the knowledge of how and when to use them. We also want people to develop a leadership style unique to their own skills and personalities, so we show them how other leaders have used these techniques in very different ways but to great effect.

Employees that are identified for senior succession are put onto our Career Development programme. It takes them through a journey of self-discovery to enable both them and us to understand how their career will progress over the next few years. This offers an opportunity to review the succession they have been identified for together and decide how relevant that might be. Our leadership programmes are designed to recognise the most appropriate development for the employee. Personalising development ensures we can create individual and diverse leaders. One size does not fit all and it’s not the kind of leadership team we would want. We want adaptable, individually distinctive employees that are developed for their strengths. We look for creative and open minded development approaches to nurture those same skills in our leaders.

How did Right Management work with you to deliver the Emerging Leaders programme? What were the key highlights of the programme?
Right Management helped us turn an idea into something tangible. Their expertise in leadership and organisational psychology has helped put solid deliverables into the programmes to ensure we meet the ultimate goal of developing personal leadership and responsibility.

Right Management has the skills and expertise required to support organisations with numerous talent and learning objectives. Their knowledge and understanding of learning and organisational requirements is current and highly adaptable and they are able to use a variety of concepts and ideas to create training and organisational programmes that ensure effective delivery of the methodologies.

They are highly professional people with the knowledge and gravitas to enter at any level of the business and have been invaluable colleagues to me. With our Emerging Leaders and Career Development programmes, I had very specific goals and far from easily achievable ideals; but with patience and support, we collaborated to develop what TMK needed.

How has your partnership with Right Management evolved over the years?
I have been working with Right Management for almost ten years, initially to deliver training programmes around career development. They developed highly effective programmes that were delivered extremely well. I soon realised that Right Management could do much more for me than just delivery. The individuals I worked with grew into trusted partners rather than suppliers and they had a solid understanding of my needs and my organisation.

As our relationship grew, I started asking for more and more. We developed leadership events, training programmes and performance management tools, psychometric testing and coaching services.

I kept these relationships going as my career advanced, continuing to work with Right Management through numerous roles. To have the support of a team that can help me turn my ideas into something real is invaluable.

This article first appeared in the eighth edition of The Human Age Newspaper.