In the latest installment of our ABI Career’s blog series, Senior Policy Adviser, Motor & Liability Ben Howarth talks about his own experience of working at the ABI and the skills he’s developed since joining the team…
How did you find out about your current role and what was the interview process like?
I had been in my previous role for over three years and I was ready for a more demanding job, but open minded about what that would be, so I was keeping an eye out for interesting looking roles. I had already been familiar with the ABI from my time working in political monitoring and had attended the ABI’s party conference fringe meetings, but had no knowledge of insurance before I applied. The interview process was relatively demanding and required a lot of preparation and background reading in advance. But that confirmed that it was the right role for me, as I was sure I could do the day-to-day work, but I would also need to learn new skills to do well in the role.
What is your favourite part of your role?
Automated driving is definitely the most interesting policy issue I work on, especially as I have been closely involved in working out how a brand new insurance system will work in practice. It’s definitely the part of my work that other people are most interested in. I was even able to go to South Korea to talk about it in December, which – with no disrespect intended to Milton Keynes – is by a distance the most exotic place I have ever travelled to for work.
What have you learnt during your time at the ABI?
I’ve learned a huge amount about how the motor insurance market works in practice, having had no background in insurance or financial services beforehand. I’ve had the chance to significantly expand my experience in putting forward a strong argument on often complex and technical issues. In addition, I’ve also done lots of public speaking and media interviews, neither of which I had had the opportunity to do before I joined the ABI.
What is it actually like to work at the ABI?
I don’t think anyone at the ABI would describe their job as easy. We work directly with very senior people within the insurance industry, so we need to know what we are talking about. The advantage of that is you are expected to take responsibility for your work and make decisions, which means you learn quickly. I think it offers a good balance between detailed work on technical policy issues and then turning that into language a normal person can understand. Motor insurance is something every single person with a car needs (and most have strong views about), so there is never a shortage of new questions to get my head around. More importantly, it’s a friendly place to work and there are plenty of laughs during the day.
What is your best piece of advice for anyone joining the ABI?
My advice would be to ask as many questions as you can (though that would be good advice in any new job). It helps you build good relationships with both members and colleagues. You won’t become an insurance expert overnight, but you will be able to find someone who is and use their expertise to get the answers you need.