Director of content
Post and Insurance Age content director Jonathan Swift has written and commented about the insurance industry since 1998. He has appeared on television speaking about topics as diverse as the insurance implications of Michael Jackson's death to the consequences of consolidation on motor premiums; and is a past winner of the British Insurance Brokers' Association journalist of the year and Association of British Insurers general insurance trade journalist prizes.
Jonathan has chaired/ hosted over 100 insurance events from roundtables involving a small specially invited audience, to addressing over 2000 people at the British Insurance Awards at the Royal Albert Hall. He is listed as a top 50 insurtech influencer by Insurtech News and presently coordinates the All Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services.
Andrew Rear, Chief Executive, Digital Partners, Munich Re
"I'm just trying to live in the future, in an industry that lives in the past"
First computer: ZX Spectrum
First mobile phone: Nokia 1610 - the one before the classic Nokia
First job: Barman, waiter and part-time film extra
Digital hero: Clive Sinclair
Best thing about your current job: The pace and vision of our start-up partners
Last time you wore a tie: When I go to our head office in Munich (mostly to ask for money...)
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Fixed-line telephony
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Regretting it
Senior business architect
Andy Ford, senior business architect, QBE
Bill Gates once said: "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." As an industry if only we applied those rules our customers' experience would be so much better, both service and price-wise.
First computer: Sinclair ZX81
First mobile phone: A Nokia brick
First job: Engineering Insurance Underwriting Clerk (would be called Underwriting Assistant these days I guess)
Digital hero: Where would we be without Sir Tim
Best thing about your current job: Varied, interesting, shaping
Last time you wore a tie: At my daughter's wedding a couple of weeks ago
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?: A shiny piece of tech at the heart of which is one of those old counting machines with big buttons and a lever. Harsh, but... ?
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?: Routine stuff
Marketing channels Director
Bea Montoya, marketing channels director, Simply Business
Don't be scared of failing. Learn from failures, iterate and try again (with a smile on your face).
First computer: It was a Spectrum, with rubber keys and uploads that happened via tapes ... for the record I was very, very young the first time I used it!
First mobile phone: I can't even remember the brand but I remember it was bulky and heavy (and at the time I was very proud.)
First job: I started in marketing as a teenager ... helping a brand in Spain get some local attention (i.e giving out leaflets outside my local newsagent. It was actually pretty fun!)
Digital hero: Lyssa Adkins - Agile all the way!
I'd also like to mention Amancio Ortega, the man behind Zara. In the 70's he created a company that disrupted a giant, established industry, putting customer feedback at the heart of the organisation. The use of data, testing, Agile processes and in-store technology has allowed him to create one of the world's best-loved retailers. A hero to say the least.
Best thing about your current job: Our customers. Small businesses are so passionate about what they do and they're always happy to get involved and help us shape our products, services and ethos.
Last time you wore a tie: It must be at least five years ago (fancy dress party ... I was Hermione Granger!)
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A BlackBerry (remember those???). - Functional, reliable but if it doesn't start moving with the times and its customer needs, it'll be pushed aside by others who do.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Working for Yotam Ottolenghi (or at least aspiring to do so!)
Chief Technology Officer
Charlie Blackburn, chief technology officer, Azur
First computer: Lent a Compaq III aka the ‘lunchbox', in 1987 so I could work at the weekend
First mobile phone: Motorola Flip phone
First job: John Brown Engineering
Digital hero: Marc Benioff
Best thing about your current job: Learning new stuff
Last time you wore a tie: For lunch at the City of London club (they had to lend me one)
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?: A sextant, brilliant in its time but there are better tools today
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?: Anything useful
It is no surprise that the youth of today are disenchanted with the insurance industry. Corporates riddled with complexity, selling yesterday's products with yesterday's tools for those living yesterday's lifestyles. It is long overdue for a radical re-think so that it can deliver products and services that they feel part of and want to buy.
First computer: A Kaypro II. My childhood is full of fond memories scouring the backstreets of Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong for hardware and software and trying to learn as much about technology as I could. The more I learnt, the more I began to realise that the tech wasn't actually the interesting bit.... it was really understanding people, their motivations and their pain-points - then thinking about the ways technology could be creatively applied to solve real problems.
First mobile phone: Nokia 3310 - I loved Snake. (My 10 year old daughter recently coded a version of it on her Kano - It turns out I'm still pretty good!)
First job: Many years ago I left the confines of academia (where I was looking at the applications of virtual reality to low cost internet conferencing) to start a job as a front-end engineer for a top technical consultancy.
Digital hero: Ada Lovelace. She saw further into the future than any of her male counterparts. Able to see the beautiful human potential in all those 1s and 0s...
Best thing about your current job: We are currently in the early stages of shaping our proposition. There are so many different avenues to explore and so many opportunities to add tangible customer-focused value. Every day is different and we are constantly learning and meeting great people. Each day makes us more excited about the potential impact we can have to benefit the industry.
Last time you wore a tie: I met someone in the lobby of Lloyd's just before Christmas to find out more about their plans for an innovation hub.
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? "A faster horse." ;-)
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Teaching mixed-martial arts full time. (At the moment I only get to teach on evenings and weekends)
Dylan Bourguignon, so-sure ceo Investor turned entrepreneur, Dylan was in strategy consulting and private equity before he left his job to rethink insurance for the consumers' benefit.
Frustrated by the insurance sector's focus on profits rather than consumer needs, Dylan launched so-sure to disrupt the stagnant insurance industry and provide customers with better and up to 80% cheaper insurance.
Dylan has an MBA from Harvard, and co-founded Growth 365 for Grant Thornton.
Freddy Macnamara, founder, Cuvva
In the words of Nike "Just do it"
First computer: I think it was an IBM Thinkpad (circa 1998)
First mobile phone: The classic Nokia 3310.
First job: Oh is was very, very menial but on the plus side it gave me time to think.
Digital hero: Can I take the digital part out? I'd say Elon Musk either way. From PayPal and Tesla to SpaceX; what's not to admire?
Best thing about your current job: We are doing something that has not ever really been done before. So, it's an exciting time for us, while simultaneously terrifying as there isn't really a handbook we can refer to.
Last time you wore a tie: A few weeks ago.
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?
It's a tricky question. I did hear it described as a "Flying Shuttle" Loom; in the sense that it is perfectly designed for its initial purpose but market demand and expectations have changed. We need to embrace the benefits of digital and refine the tools we are working with in order to keep up.
Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution?
Permissionless innovation has no leader. It's not so much about having one person who will drive things forward, as it is about making a collective decision; that, with digital, we are able to change things for the better.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?
I really don't know. One of the great things about our business, and the speed of change in the digital industry as a whole, is we don't get an awful lot of time to think about what could have been.
Head of marketing & e-commerce
AXA Business Insurance
First computer: Advent PC
First mobile phone: Nokia something
Digital hero: Maybe obvious, but Steve Jobs. Why? When he returned to Apple they ran ads that talked all about the product (a metal box with components that processed things). He scrapped that and made it all about aspiration, lifestyle and how the product makes people feel. He then tapped into the consumer zeitgeist and developed the most desirable products.
Best thing about your current job: The pace and the level of empowerment and creativity to get things done.
Last time you wore a tie: Last Thursday at our CEO's Leadership Day
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A pre-digital camera. The world is changing all around, but we are kinda drifting along oblivious. Although, some insurers will develop digital cameras just in time.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Rock Star/Author. Or hobo.
The biggest challenge for insurance sector? Failing to understand how consumers are changing and how they buy and consume products & services. They rule, we don't. Most FS companies don't get that yet.
Chief Information Officer
Jacob Abboud, chief information officer, Allianz Insurance
Digital is not IT, it is a cultural & business mind-set placing the customer at the heart of everything we do
First computer: BBC Micro
First mobile phone: Nokia - the real brick!
First job: Research Officer at Bath University
Digital hero: Elon Musk. He made game-changing contributions to the application of digital & other technologies
Best thing about your current job: Enabling and adding value to the business. Championing digital-by-default and data transformation at Allianz both locally and also globally working with my Group colleagues.
Last time you wore a tie: I tend to wear a tie to formal meetings which sadly tend to be fairly frequent
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Can I compare to transport? - It is like my commute to work; I have to walk to the station, get on a train, hop on a tube before I conclude my ‘seamless' and ‘one stop' optimised journey ! It is getting better though driven by digitalisation and customer-centricity...
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? An entrepreneur - I've had involvement with start-ups...
Director broker eTrade
Jamie Swindle, director broker eTrade, NIG
Exciting times lay ahead for our industry as we put our customer at the heart of digital innovation. I can't wait to be a part of it!
First computer: Does a sega master system count?
First mobile phone: Ericsson A1018s - I think I still have it in a box somewhere.
First job: I worked in a newsagents whilst at school but my first Insurance role was as a trainee in a small Personal Lines brokerage when I left school.
Digital hero: I respect anyone who brings a fresh perspective and new ideas to an industry that will benefit the customer.
Best thing about your current job: My team
Last time you wore a tie: I've never worn a tie.
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? That faithful piece of technology that can be found in every home that you couldn't do without.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? I'd still be in the Insurance industry! It is an industry with so many opportunities for people to make their mark and implement some great ideas.
Head of digital strategy
Jon Mansley, head of digital strategy, LV
Is that red light supposed to be flashing?
First mobile phone: BT handset called the roamer or something like that
First job: proper job was for NWS - now part of Halifax group in Marketing
Digital hero: Sir Tim Berners Lee met him in Dublin once just awesome
Best thing about your current job: I get to work in Digital and push the boundaries of what we can achieve in Insurance
Last time you wore a tie: Last year September when i Interviewed for this job
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A winchester disk
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Marine Biologist
Juan de Castro
Chief operating officer
Juan de Castro, chief operating officer, Hiscox UK
Chief Operating Officer
Talbot Underwriting Ltd
Michael Gould, chief operating officer, Talbot Underwriting Ltd
Be Comfortably Uncomfortable
First computer: Toshiba laptop
First mobile phone: Nokia
First job: Start-up of import/export company
Digital hero: Steve Jobs
Best thing about your current job: Variety and transformation
Last time you wore a tie: Yesterday!
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Mainframe... but recognition that it needs to evolve
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Helping companies transform
Global innovation, research & demonstration lab manager
Paul Heybourne, global innovation, research & demonstration lab manager, Aviva
First computer: The fantastic Spectrum 48k with those annoying rubber keys - it's the device that introduced me to the world of coding.
First mobile phone: The Nokia 101, back in the very early 90's - I remember it used to really weigh down my jeans pocket!
First job: Handling insurance claims - I loved this direct contact with customers at a time when we deliver the proof point of our product. The experience has stuck with me and helps me keep the customer at the centre of everything I do.
Digital hero: I have long been a fan of Steve Jobs, way before it was cool to like Steve Jobs. His complete obsession with simplicity and user experience, (our industry can learn a lot from that) and of course those Keynotes - his delivery is superb.
Best thing about your current job: Creating the conditions for the best ideas to be taken from someone's head to being tested with customers.
Last time you wore a tie: At a friend's wedding, It was the same day I got my Apple Watch, which I hadn't realised you had to put on silent and it rang just at the moment when the registrar asked if ‘anyone knows of any lawful impediment...'
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? The cloud - you know it's their protecting your stuff...you just can't see it. Or the original Blackberry - does some great stuff just not operating to the best of its potential.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Connecting people and connecting technology solutions with business problems - it's in my DNA.
Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution and why? Me - Surely I wouldn't qualify for being an Insurance Activist if I said anyone else would I??!
Co-Founder & CEO
Phoebe Hugh, Co-Founder & CEO, Brolly
Hope is not a strategy.
First computer: A Power Macintosh from the mid-1990s, on which I spent many hours playing Descent, the best space combat game.
First mobile phone: Nokia 3210
First job: The paper round from the age of 10. I'd get up at 6am everyday before school and earned £13 a week, which didn't go up for 4 years. I wasn't given pocket money, so had to earn for myself!
Digital hero: Peter Thiel. I admire his philosophy of creating value in the world.
Best thing about your current job: The constant challenge and learning, knowing that when we succeed we'll have built an entirely new way for customers to understand and engage with insurance.
Last time you wore a tie: Well, I used to wear a bow tie when I was a Texas Hold'em Croupier!
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A large data centre.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Coaching entrepreneurs and/or running another business.
Head of digital product management
Direct Line Group
Rob Savage, head of digital product management, Direct Line Group
Be the change you wish to see in the world
First computer: Amstrad CPC 464 - the ‘music' that played as the tape loaded is forever imprinted on my brain.
First mobile phone: Nokia 5110 - it was the family mobile and was given to someone whenever they left the house
First job: Paper round. First full time job was a Sales Coordinator for a software VAR.
Best thing about your current job: The people I work with and the culture we share.
Last time you wore a tie: Sad to say it was to a friend's funeral.
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? To use a motoring metaphor, today it is probably an air bag - tomorrow it is fully autonomous accident prevention.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Most likely living an unfulfilled desire to race in motorsport.
Founder & CEO
Bought By Many
Steven Mendel, founder and CEO, Bought By Many
"Together we can make this happen"
First computer: A Commodore 64 (now you know my age!!)
First mobile phone: I don't recall but it was in 1996 and it was on Orange, shortly after their launch.
First job: As a summer job, an actuarial student in a firm that is now part of Marsh Mac
Digital hero: John Straw, one of our early investors and a real search guru.
Best thing about your current job: Being able to bring together a great team of individuals with complementary skills.
Last time you wore a tie: I religiously (!) wear a tie once a year only for a specific religious festival
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? One of those old transporter phones that my father used to have bolted into his car - it pretended to be portable, but you had to be Geoff Capes to be able to carry it.
Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution? Each and every one of us - to shift this clunky industry into the digital age is going to require some serious collective effort.
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? An architect.
Chief digital officer
Arthur J Gallagher
Vivek joined Arthur J. Gallagher in 2013. He has more than a decade's experience of developing online trading strategy and distribution for a range of UK-based general insurance companies, especially for SME products, and has worked extensively with brokers and technology organisations. At Gallagher, Vivek has a company-wide brief to develop digital business opportunities, leveraging the group's strengths in both broking and underwriting operations.
Prior to joining Gallagher, Vivek served as head of UK distribution at Brit Insurance, with a remit that encompassed the insurer's entire e-business portfolio, and moved to head up e-business development in Canada for QBE following its acquisition of Brit's UK business.
Before arriving at Brit in 2010 he spent seven years working for NIG, within the Direct Line Group, first as head of ecommerce, then head of business development for its commercial and broker business.
CEO and co-founder
First computer: Acer 1100
First job: Life Guard
Digital hero: Elon Musk
Best thing about your current job: The team of talented, driven individuals and leading business that will change the way financial services will be delivered to support the new way we work - to be flexible, adaptable and create a fair society where gig workers have access to the same level of support as a traditional employee.
Last time you wore a tie: Hmmmm....
If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Pay-as-you-go phone
If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Hanging out with my wife!