As the new Head of Art and Private Client Distribution, Cheralyn Perry brings both a solid track record in insurance, and an unquenchable thirst to try new things at every opportunity.
Cheralyn Perry makes no bones about her choice of career: “I understand the vocational calling – those who feel compelled to work in medicine or teaching, perhaps. But for the rest of us mortals, we need to get a job,” she says.
So, having completed work experience and offered a permanent role in Commercial Union, she soon applied for a role in a conceptually new insurance organisation called ‘The Insurance Service’. Once there, Perry found herself getting in at the beginning of what was the start of the direct approach to home / motor insurance.
“I was fortunate to be part of this operation at the beginning, there were about 30 of us at the time, and it gave me both the opportunity to learn about the end to end journey of insurance and the entire business concept from marketing to accounting. It was a great experience. It was a chance to branch out and try new things. That’s why insurance is a great career – if you’ve got a good idea, you might get the chance to try it out.”
Evolving and innovating
With Direct Line launching at the same time, it was a heady time, and set the tone for a career marked by a desire to keep evolving and innovating at every turn.
“I’ve always gravitated to breaking new ground,” she says. “I’ve tried to bring fresh new thinking to the industry, and that’s where the sweet spot is.” Having been there at the launch of The Insurance Service, Perry moved on to launch MORE TH>N with Lucky the dog, and later launching many propositions in RSA including Tesco Pet Insurance, John Lewis Partnership and Nationwide BS.
“When I reflect, all these highlights are linked to the delivery of unique successful propositions – where I’d define successful as having been developed to meet the needs of customers, underpinned by fair commercial outcomes and outperforming the ambitions of the partnership.”
“It’s definitely in my DNA to try new things. I think it’s about becoming the ‘better I’ – renewing myself and avoiding the treadmill,” Perry explains. “People talk a lot about being deliberately curious or brave, and I think, ‘What else gets you up in the morning?’ Surely that’s what we all want, to do something new and interesting and be a better person every day – whether that’s smarter or fitter or more interested.”
Having left RSA and joining Hiscox: “It feels like I’m working on a different project, and its surprisingly familiar and increasingly exciting. It’s a different team with a different ambition but it essentially boils down to the same thing: take something really good and make it even better: build strong relationships, attract more customers, and make a fair return.”
The role at Hiscox requires the same skills, motivation, outcomes, and Perry says she’s been delighted to immerse herself in the Hiscox Culture and how it underpins the way people do things. “So that’s about being passionate, doing the right thing, daring to take risks and working together to build something better,” she says.
“We all talk about sharing the same values, but it’s not until you really get stuck in that you see how amazing Hiscox is: a flat structure, with people really empowered and a genuine open door policy. So people are empowered to make brave decisions, but equally they have consultative powers of senior leaders – and that’s really refreshing.”
Under the bonnet
As to the specific role, while the title is distribution - and this will be Perry’s primary focus - for now she’s been working internally to put in place the building blocks for continuing to deliver the Art and Private Client Strategy. Among many things this includes shaping and delivering the new operation, which will provide consistent service to broking partners and customers, “Allowing us to focus more on exploiting our underwriting expertise and continuing to expand the rollout of LeakBot – a water detection tool.”
Hiscox were the first UK insurer to partner with LeakBot to offer buildings insurance customers a free leak detector service, to help prevent the damage and disruption that escape of water can do. So that, as well as ensuring the company meets all the new pricing regulations due for implementation later this year, is keeping the new Head of APC busy.
All of which adds up to an ambition: to reaffirm Hiscox as the market leading proposition for Art and Private Clients. “And that’s not a case of what I want to do, but what we want to do as a team. And we want to have a bit of fun along the way as we take a results-driven approach to each challenge.”
Although Perry sees Hiscox as a genuine pioneer – and leader – in the private client insurance space, she sees her big challenge as establishing some renewed self-belief inside the company. “Maybe it is just our humble nature, or the times we have just lived through, but I would like us to recognise our proud history, our specialism, and be proud of our status in the market.”
Adapt, change... and have fun
But it’s not all work for Perry: outside of work she’s become a recent convert to running, something she wishes she’d started sooner. “I’d much prefer to be outdoors than being inside – and having been introduced to it after being dissatisfied with the gym, once I’ve got the trainers on and I’m outdoors then I’m in my happiest place.”
And if she’s not running, Perry’s with her horses “Doing whatever equine work needs doing” she smiles.
Ultimately, Perry believes that no matter what life might throw at her, the ability to adapt, change and have fun in the process must be central to a fulfilling career. “I always think we should make sure everything you do, you enjoy; and make sure others enjoy the journey too.”