Gina Keighley started with us 18 months ago as Motor and Personal Department Manager. We spoke to her in July 2022 about the changes she’d introduced to her teams in her first year. So, we decided to catch up again, to get an update on how the changes were going and what else has been happening across her 10 teams.

Hi Gina. The last time we spoke, you told us about how you’d changed the culture in your teams. How have you built on that?
I think the first 18 months was really a transition period. We worked with the Resource Planning team to correctly plan the size and structure of our team.

The business gave us a lot of support in building the department. They agreed that we could introduce new roles, such as the Senior Underwriters, Technical Trainer and additional Team Leaders for the new teams we developed. The support provided really enabled us to build the right structure and bring the right people into the teams.

Now we’ve got the right people, training, development, career pathways and reward and recognition processes in place, I’m really excited about the new challenge we’ve set ourselves this year, which we’re calling Green ’23. We’re aiming, as a department, to achieve all our target service levels for the whole of 2023. It’s a big challenge, but the last 18 months have been all about understanding how we needed to structure the team and now with our new, more joined-up approach to underwriting, we’re in a better place to achieve our goals.

This new joined-up approach means we’ve got the tools in place so we can meet the challenge of Green ’23. And then we’ll be ready for the new system that’s coming in at the end of the year, to support our growth.

Sounds exciting! One of the other areas you talked about was giving everyone in the team a clear progression route. How’s that going?
We’re on the next stage of our career pathways now, so it’s not just about people within the department, but looking at progression across the whole business. And because we’ve got people who want to move into our area, we’re introducing a career guide on how to become an Underwriter, which includes making sure we keep pathways alive, fresh and relevant.

We’re also working with the Learning & Organisational Development team to make sure we take advantage of industry qualifications and we’re looking at what other organisations are doing, so we can give our people the best opportunities. In addition, the two new Senior Underwriters in the department, not only complete more complex referrals, but share their knowledge and support other Underwriter’s development through mentoring and coaching.

The NFU Mutual Underwriting team based in Glasgow recently joined our department too. They were a team of 13 and now they’re part of our 130-strong team. From our point of view the larger team is a great step forward. All our Underwriting teams are aligning, and we can share resources and be far more flexible. Now everyone is settled into the new larger team, there’s more time for people to plan their development in a team that offers more career opportunities than before.

As a business we wanted to reward the hard work people did while we restructured the team. To show their appreciation the business introduced an incentive scheme, with a top prize of a trip to Paris. The incentive scheme showed the teams that we recognised and really appreciated the hard work that people did during the recent changes to the department.

Tell us about the awards your York team won recently.
We used to have separate teams in Bristol and York. Now we’re a national team. In Bristol, we always took part in the South-West Contact Centre Awards, so in 2022 we encouraged the York part of our team to enter the Call North-West Contact Centre Awards. This was the first time they’d done anything like this, so we were really pleased when eight of the team were named as finalists. We were absolutely delighted when two were named as Highly Commended and one as the Hero of the Year!

The winner was Danny, one of our Underwriters who led and delivered a Chatbot project that reduced the number of phone calls and LiveChats we received, enabling the team to concentrate on the more complex cases. On top of that, Danny delivered training for our LiveChat function, supported colleagues at all levels to get them using the service and deputised for his manager on several occasions. He’s had a lot of great feedback from customers about the level of service he gives them, too. So, he really is a hero!

I’m convinced that the changes we’ve made to the way we work has played a part in getting these nominations. And now we’re in a stronger place to hopefully get more this year.

With a two-year-old at home, how do you balance valuable family time with your work?
I’ve got a fantastic team, with 10 Team Leaders who do a great job. They say one of the signs of great leadership is how things run when you’re not there. And when I’m away from the office, the results are the same. I’ve been lucky to build a great team around me who know they’re empowered and have the autonomy to make decisions. That means I can step away from work and know it’s in safe hands. It’s great to be able to truly switch off and enjoy spending valuable time with my family.

You obviously enjoy your job – what is it that gets you up in the morning?
The initial motivation is definitely my family and providing for them. What makes it enjoyable are the teams and the success we’ve created. And right now, it’s the excitement of the challenge of trying to achieve Green ’23, which is something that’s never been done before. Because, genuinely, when you work in a contact volume area like ours, to go for 100% green and believe you can achieve it is the best place you can be. It’s like taking your team to the World Cup for the very first time – and it’s that challenge that excites me.

The last time we met, you mentioned you were looking at ways to develop your senior team. How’s that going – and what’s next for you?
One of my team is on the Internal Management Development Programme and is already taking more accountability. That’s great for me because it means I have the time to be more strategic.

I’ve also got a peer manager now, who manages the operational support for our area. Before I was a bit of a lone ranger, so having an amazing senior peer who I genuinely respect is fantastic. We have a lot in common and we can bounce ideas off each other and give each other support and advice, so that’s really helped me in my role.

What’s next for me? Well, this year delivering on Green ’23 and the new system is the focus. After that? My eyes are wide open for the next opportunity and challenge. I don’t know what that’ll be yet. I’m passionate about our people and ensuring we’re a forward-thinking company, so I’d love to move into a role in the future that allows this to be my key focus on a wider scale.

Interested in joining Gina and her team? Take a look at our current opportunities.