After five years with NFU Mutual, Suzanne Price was recently appointed into her new role as Head of Corporate Core Applications. We caught up with her to chat about the position, her journey up to this point, and what it's like working here.

Congratulations on the appointment Suzanne! Why don’t you start off by telling us how your career led you to NFU Mutual?
I joined NFU Mutual in 2018, but my career started back in the 1980s. I left school with all the basic exams under my belt and went straight into stockbroking. I then joined a major building society, which is where I started to get involved with treasury and capital markets and learning more about finance.

My next move was to an energy company, where I was part of a team that provided the IT platform for wholesale gas and electricity traders. I was living in Worcester with a young family at the time, commuting into Coventry every day, finishing my master's qualification, which became unsustainable. So, I moved to the IT team at another energy company closer to home. Ironically, that company was then taken over by an organisation based in Germany, and I was required to fly there and back one day a week! I’d worked my way up the ladder a fair way by this point, but it was a big challenge trying to balance my career and family life. So, when their UK IT services were outsourced to a third party, I decided to move back into finance, and joined a smaller company providing software to financial advisors and pension providers.

But it wasn’t long before I felt like I needed to move on – they had an extremely ruthless and profit-based culture which I didn’t feel comfortable with. That’s when I applied to join NFU Mutual. I didn’t know a lot about them at the time, but from my very first interview, I could tell they were different. They were all about putting people first.

Would you say it was that people-first attitude that first drew you to NFU Mutual?
When I had my interview at NFU Mutual, I already had a few offers on the table, so it was important to me that I really explored the company’s culture. I wanted to make sure I was joining an organisation I genuinely wanted to work for - and that would be a good fit for me. During the interview process it really came across that my experience was valued, that they'd invest in me as an individual and tap into my strengths and explore my potential. That was the main thing that won me over, that sense that I’d be able to fully put my experience to use, and that NFU Mutual would listen and support me in a range of opportunities.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been keen to apply my skills to different areas, to see what works and what might need tweaking. It was made very clear that there’d be plenty of opportunities to try innovative ideas at NFU Mutual and that the line managers would be supportive. Over my time here, I've enjoyed being able to shape and influence things, even outside my own area, while always being encouraged and listened to by the business. It’s a cultural thing that comes from the very top, and it makes me feel really valued and appreciated for what I can contribute.

As an example, when NFU Mutual decided to switch to a new third-party IT supplier, we were given the scope to plan it, and make the final decision on who to go with. So, we changed to a new supplier based in India. This was just as COVID was starting to hit the news, and as nobody was aware of what was about to happen, we decided to travel to India to meet them face-to-face. We were supported all the way in doing this and it turned out to be a great decision, because it really helped to reinforce that link between our teams. So, when we went into lockdown soon afterwards, we already had a working relationship in place.

Do you think that support from NFU Mutual has helped you to grow and develop in your career?
Undoubtedly, I’m always learning new things. Every day’s a school day! I have a curious mind. And working here, you can ask anyone about anything – whether it’s emerging technologies or how a particular system works. If you ask, there's always someone happy to share their knowledge. At other companies, people might feel threatened, or see it as you’re stepping on their toes – but we take the view that it’s all for the good of the organisation. It’s a very sharing and supportive environment here, and as someone who always wants to learn, it really suits my personality.

One of my biggest opportunities was when I talked to my line manager about wanting to learn more about insurance. My background was in financial services and mortgages, so insurance was a bit of a gap in my knowledge. I soon found myself seconded onto a project which was all about moving the NFU Mutual insurance systems online. That experience was really useful for me, learning more about areas like policies, claims and billing. And that's typical of how NFU Mutual works – there was a gap in my experience, so I was given the opportunity to work on a project where I could gain that experience. If you’re a driven individual like me, who recognises your weaknesses and wants to turn them into strengths, then NFU Mutual is all about giving you those opportunities.

It’s clear that you feel supported professionally. Does NFU Mutual also support you in your personal life?
I actually broke my ankle within the first four weeks of joining the company, which meant it wasn’t easy to get to the office. But they were exceptionally supportive. This was before working from home became the norm. They made sure I had a laptop and everything I needed, so I could continue to work in comfort. It was very reassuring, because I was still new and didn’t feel like a fully-fledged member of the team yet! But they really do understand you as an individual, and what you find important. So, whatever you put into your role, you get the same back.

Beyond that, one of my main interests outside work is running - I’ve completed 29 marathons over the last ten or so years and I’m about to run my 30th marathon in Prague, with my two sons. The flexibility and benefits from NFU Mutual have allowed me to travel and do marathons in places like Japan and America. And I’ve ended up finding a big fitness community here too. There are good facilities at the office and lots of people are into running or cycling. It’s great because we all help motivate each other!

Let’s talk a bit about your new role - what are you most looking forward to?
It’s a role with a lot of diversity and challenge, which is just how I like it. In my portfolio, I’m managing teams that deal with brand-new emerging technologies, as well as firmly established mature systems, and large-scale insurance applications. We’re going to be looking at a wide range of solutions. But I’m most looking forward to coming up with improvements to both our strategy and new ways of working - knowing I’ll be supported in those decisions.

NFU Mutual isn't a company that's driven by making profits for shareholders, and our mutuality gives us the scope to make more long-term improvements. When I’ve worked in other blue-chip organisations, there’s been a drive to get return on investment quickly. But here, you can be more strategic because that pressures are different. We can make larger-scale investments that will end up better for the company and customers in the long run.

That all sounds so exciting! So, what’s next for you and your career?
NFU Mutual is the place I want to retire from! It’s a lovely organisation to work for, so I don’t want to leave. And this latest role is likely the top of the ladder for me. I think it’s very rare to reach a point where you’re happy at an organisation. But it’s just such a great fit for me. I feel valued, listened to, and I can continue to improve and have an influence. If I felt that I wasn’t making a difference, I wouldn’t stay. But I know I’ll continue to have these opportunities because that’s the culture of NFU Mutual. It’s all down to choices, and this role and this organisation both give me the ability to do what I want to do.

Thinking of following in Suzanne’s footsteps? Take a look at our current opportunities.