Derrick Potton, Sales Director of Hiscox UK and Ireland, shares his insights on career focus, conquering fear and what sets Hiscox apart from the competition.
My background is in financial lines underwriting.
Time in insurance:
I’m coming up to 10 years at Hiscox and 20 years altogether in the industry.
I started at Royal Sun Alliance as a graduate trainee, before moving to Chubb where I ran a dedicated financial lines team in Reading. Then I moved to branch management at Hiscox in Colchester followed by the London branch. From there, I became Head of Commercial and I’ve been Sales Director, my current role, since last July.
Favourite holiday destination:
I’m really into my scuba diving, so one of the most spectacular places I’ve been to from a diving point of view is Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica – it’s very famous for schooling hammerheads!
Last book read:
I recently read ‘To Sell is Human’ by Daniel Pink, which I would highly recommend. It’s about how life is all negotiation and how we use sales techniques without really thinking about it.
Describe your management style:
I would say it is very supportive and collaborative. I am clear on expectations but also hold people to account, so there is a bit of an edge to me. I try and focus on enabling people to be the best they can be, so there is a lot of coaching and mentoring in my style too.
What motivates and inspires you?
I think it’s to be the best I can and for the business to be the best it can be. I’m quite competitive – I love hitting budgets, setting stretching targets and hitting them and then setting even more stretching targets.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person?
I will naturally try and look for a consensus. If, say, two of my regions have a dispute I will always suggest they try and find a solution between them. But if they can’t, I will make a casting decision. I’m not afraid to make unpopular decisions but I think a consensus is always a good first port of call.
What does success look like?
Success for me is having a happy, motivated, driven team of people who are hungry. I also put quite a lot of focus into the welfare and wellbeing of employees – I don’t want people burnt out and working all hours under the sun.
Is it more helpful to be liked or respected?
I think they are both important but I think the respect element takes precedence for me when you need decisive leadership.
Best advice ever given to you?
It’s the advice I was given quite early on in my insurance career: ‘get a trade under your belt’. Be known for something and really develop that before you start looking to move into more senior leadership management positions.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I do spend a lot of money on holidays and travel, especially diving.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Outside of work, I learnt to sky dive, which was challenging and now I’ve done over 600 skydives. I tried when I was 16 and had another go when I was 21 but failed to really conquer my nerves. I went back a third time and finally got over my fear of jumping out of a plane.
What do you think sets Hiscox apart from the competition?
We have a very clear, consistent strategy and we pride ourselves on our claims service and accessibility to underwriters. I think we’ve got a great regional network and a great brand – people want to do business with us.
What Hiscox products and services are you most excited about this year?
We have just relaunched some of our media and creative sector policies, so I think it will be exciting to see what comes from them. Our cyber and data products are also really starting to gain momentum.