An Interview with Andrew Horton
Did you always want to become CEO, when did you realise you were on track to become CEO, and did you take any pivotal steps to get there?
I did not put much thought in to becoming a CEO until the opportunity arose. Having trained as an accountant I aspired to be a CFO which I was at a division of ING before I became CFO of Beazley in 2003. When Andrew Beazley announced he was going to stand down as CEO I then put a lot of thought in to whether I could do the job or not, asking advice from friends and business colleagues. So I did not take any pivotal steps other than I have always been keen to take on new challenges and learn new skills.
What do you believe to be the biggest challenge faced by young professionals in the market today?
I think the pace of change. The world of work has changed enormously in my 30 years working and the pace of change keeps speeding up. Embracing change is key to having a successful company and career - everyone says they are happy with change but many are not.
What advice for building a successful career would you give to young professionals?
Be proactive in managing your career, looking for new opportunities at the right time. Build a good internal network within the company you are in and also spend time networking externally. What are deemed basic skills such as communication and relationship building are key to a successful career. Also taking risks - for example getting involved in things outside your comfort zone, is important.
Do you have a morning or evening routine that prepares you for the day at work?
No routine in the morning other than I have to have breakfast as soon as I get up as I'm hungry. Then usually on to the train and read the paper - sport and business on the way in, the rest of the paper plus work reading for the following day on the way back. A glass or two of wine always goes down well in the evening - not sure it counts as preparation for the following day or recovery from the current one!
Who has influenced you the most in your career?
Generally the people I have worked for. I have had a succession of excellent bosses all of who have taught me a lot. Andrew Beazley has to stand out as he took me on as CFO having no insurance knowledge and not only taught me something about insurance but also how culture within a company is paramount to its success. I hope I have maintained everything he and his founding partner Nick Furlonge set up.
How do you encourage creative thinking and innovative behaviour at Beazley?
Talking about it a lot and making sure people feel that we have a safe environment for coming up with new ideas. No idea is a bad one but we will not be able to take them all forwards. Also I try to ensure that there is not an atmosphere of fear of failure as not all ideas will work and if people are scared of failure then they will rarely innovate..
In your opinion, what is the biggest change the London market will face in the next 5 years?
I think we have got to address the cost of placing business. It is incumbent upon everyone in the insurance placing chain to look at why so much of the cost of insurance for the buyer is going in expense. New technology and new ways of working can reduce this by making us all more productive and efficient- we need to embrace this fact rather than worry about it - and then the future of the insurance industry will be as exciting as it has always been.
Our next Senior Leader Insight Interview will be out in December so keep an eye out for the announcement of who it will be with!