Fiona O'Gorman is the Head of Operations, at Allianz. We recently caught up with her to chat about her career path to date and what she is aiming for in the future.
How did you get started in the insurance industry?
I joined straight from college. Having graduated from DCU in 2000 I was accepted by Allianz to part-take in their graduate development programme and never looked back! Allianz offered variety, opportunities at home and abroad and great support for professional development along the journey. I hadn’t expected to stay as long as I have but to be honest the company is constantly evolving, so it feels and looks very different today to what it was in 2000.
What do you like most about your job?
I would have to say what I like most is first and foremost the people with whom I’m lucky enough to work. It’s a very supportive environment and importantly it is fun. In terms of the work, I would never have thought back in 2000 that I would say this, but it is never boring! Whilst there are certain aspects of our industry which at times can frustrate & challenge, there is a lot of scope for innovation and with the onset of new technologies that will only expand. I enjoy balancing the must do with what it is we want to do.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
I would have to say the most challenging part is delivering real change in an established & successful business. When a company is successful, as ours has been over the years, it can be a challenge to both understand and to communicate why we need to evolve to a new way of working and thinking about our customers. Taking an outside-in perspective is crucial to our future success and despite the fact that we are experts in our end product & service we are not yet experts in understanding and meeting changing customer perspectives. We are working really hard to change that and it’s exciting to think about where that will lead us into the future. I’m really glad to have the opportunity to play my part in that change.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would encourage my younger self to be more curious in general and to ask more questions. It is crucial to have faith in your own intuition, abilities and capabilities. And on a more practical note, a piece of advice I came across recently - when preparing a piece of work, writing an internal email or writing a report - assume you’re writing it for the level above your own manager - it focuses the mind!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the insurance industry?
Bring your own perspective to bear; the industry has to change to meet the emerging needs of the next generation, who knows these needs better than you? Respectfully challenge the status quo, be innovative in your thinking and seek out opportunities to offer your point of view.
A degree of patience is required too. There is such value in learning about an organisation or industry from the ground up. Have faith that you will progress and make sure you gain insight from each role you perform along the journey – be it customer facing or back office. An organisation is the sum of the parts and success for any organisation requires its leaders to understand how functions can best collaborate to bring about great results.
What’s been your most rewarding professional experience?
It’s always very rewarding to feel you‘ve enabled a colleague to develop & grow. At Allianz we place huge importance on frequent and meaningful coaching conversations. That really does make a big difference to individual and overall team performance and to morale in general. By taking some quality time out you can create the space for a colleague to really think about their own working style and their circle of influence. Great insight can result and the most rewarding times I recall are when I’ve enabled a colleague to come up with their own answers to the challenges they face.
What are your future career goals?
I want to be a true agent of change and to look back at some solid achievements as a result. I see my future with Allianz, it’s been an exciting journey so far and I expect it will continue to be that way for some time yet!
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