Hiscox people: Justin Gott

Justin Gott

Head of Art and Private Client Justin Gott reflects on why his motivation derives as much from world famous explorers as it does fellow colleagues

Time in insurance:
22 years – 17 of them at Hiscox. 

Insurance specialty:
High net worth insurance. 

Last book read:
The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Stephen Bown. Everyone knows him as the man who beat Scott to the South Pole, yet the expedition itself makes up a very small part of the book. Truly a fascinating read to discover the human being behind the legend. 

Favourite holiday destination:
Somewhere… anywhere in the mountains. If you push me for one place it’d have to be Chamonix. I’ve spent some wonderful times with friends and family, not to mention accomplished some of my greatest physical achievements.  

What motivates and inspires you?
I love building a business, molding it around a vision and bringing people along to achieve a common goal. 

Describe your management style:
Collaborative; supportive; empowering. I’m motivated by enabling others to achieve more than they thought themselves capable of. So I try and give people the space to do that.

Would you rather be liked or respected?
For me they’re not mutually exclusive – in fact the best leaders I’ve ever known have plenty of both. I’d say respect tends to have the broader influence when it comes to getting things done. Likeable people are good to be around, but if you’re trying to achieve things as a leader it’s very important to be respected. 

What does success look like to you?
I think success is delivering a clear strategy. It’s winning as a team. It’s giving people the opportunity to achieve their dreams. And I think when you achieve a goal together it feels that bit sweeter. 

Do you rely on instinct or information?
My best decisions tend to be more instinctive. But because I know instinct is my default I tend to back it up with some research or hard facts.  

Should decisions be taken together or by one person?
I think collaborative decisions can be good but what’s absolutely critical is that accountability lies with one person. The buck has to stop somewhere. When necessary, it’s important there’s someone there to make a decision, though generally you can achieve more when there’s a general consensus.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
I spend a lot of time in the mountains – climbing, skiing, cycling. A lot of the time you have to be completely in the moment, so perfect happiness for me comes in the afterglow of those moments. It’s reflecting with friends and family, laughter and music, great food and wine. To me that sounds like a pretty happy moment! 

What’s your greatest extravagance?
It’s either my bike collection (I have six) or my cameras. I love photography and have a couple of Leica cameras, which are wonderful things, if a little extravagant. 

What one thing would you change about yourself?
Outside of work I’d like to make more time for my family. That’s quite a sincere one actually. 

Greatest achievement?
I think for me it comes back to building a happy home that is thriving. As you get older you realise it isn’t a given. 

Who is your hero?
It would have to be Ernest Shackleton – an amazing explorer who never actually achieved any of his ultimate goals. But through incredible adversity he demonstrated a unique brand of leadership. To take people to places they never thought they could go – physically, emotionally, psychologically – and to come back alive and intact requires exceptional leadership skills.

What sets Hiscox apart from the competition?
It’s absolutely the people and the culture they embody.

What products or service opportunities are you most excited about this year?
We’ve just launched our classic car insurance and are about to launch a personal cyber insurance product. My intention is that this is the first step towards offering products and services outside of traditional insurance. Looking at my kids, who are constantly on social media, you see more and more that they’re vulnerable. Businesses like ours that have access to data, to advice and to services, can really help and become much more than just an insurance firm. 

What do you enjoy most about Hiscox?
From the moment you walk through the door, they’re all just fantastic people who are trying to make the business as good as it can be. Hiscox has given me the opportunity over the last 17 years to build my own business. I’ve never felt like I’m working for somebody – I’ve always felt that I’ve had the freedom and opportunity to work towards something that fits my vision, and that’s a pretty special place to be.