James Brady, Deputy Head of Specialty for Hiscox UK & Ireland, respects Elon Musk’s work ethic and believes the opportunities in cyber insurance are endless
What kind of insurance do you specialise in?
I’m responsible for our media and cyber insurance, which are two separate offerings. We’ve been selling media insurance since 1995 and cover a broad range of clients, from one man band graphic designers and PR consultants to major film studios, global advertising agencies and national newspapers and broadcasters. Cyber meanwhile is a relatively new and evolving area of insurance in the UK market but it’s something that we are looking to expand into massively.
Where in the UK do you come from?
I sound Scottish as I grew up there but I’m very much Northern Irish at heart. I was born in Belfast.
What was the last book you read?
A biography of Elon Musk. Being so futuristic in his views and decision-making make him a really interesting guy. It was fascinating to read about someone who was so passionate about making his companies a success. Tesla is a great example – a lot of people wrote that company off early on but he stuck with it. It had its flaws and setbacks, but you’ve got to learn from them if you want to be cutting edge.
Where do you like to go on holiday?
Sydney – it’s a very outdoorsy city with lots of people exercising in the morning. It’s got a lovely café culture and is just a great environment to be in. The weather’s a bit better than here as well...
What motivates and inspires you?
I’m a pretty competitive person so winning motivates me a lot.
How would you describe your management style?
I hope that my management style is motivating and empowering – we’ve got some really good people.
Would you rather be respected or liked?
At work, it’s definitely more important to be respected by your peers.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person?
An element of discussion and collaboration with those who deserve to have a say is always needed, but whoever is ultimately responsible ought to make the final decision.
How would you describe success?
It’s helping Hiscox to maintain its market-leading position in the media sector as well as developing a new and innovative cyber product that protects our clients against this new exposure and helps maximise the opportunities for Hiscox.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A golf coach once said to me that if you don’t believe you can win you never will. You’ve got to go out there and believe in yourself and your own ability. If you do that you’ve got a chance.
And your idea of perfect happiness?
Being on holiday with close friends and family somewhere hot with good food and wine… and maybe playing a round of golf or two on a championship golf course.
Describe your greatest extravagance…
It’s about to be a coffee machine as we’re just in the process of doing up our kitchen.
What one thing would you change about yourself?
I’ve always been a numbers-orientated guy, so my style of writing could definitely be improved. Sometimes I read an email and think, ‘That’s inspiring, succinct and well written.’
Tell us about your greatest achievement.
I won underwriter of the year at Hiscox in 2017. Given the calibre of the people you’re up against, winning was a great achievement. You have to be nominated by your manager and you’re rewarded for your individual delivery of sales and underwriting capability.
Who are your heroes?
Tiger Woods. Obviously, he has had knocks in recent years but I grew up during the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was winning all the time. What he did was unbelievable. He set the standard and massively raised the bar in a game that I love. I really hope he wins at least one more major.
What sets Hiscox apart from the competition?
The values and culture within the organisation – we do what we say we will and when we say we’ll do it by – as well as the fantastic people who work here. These things combined make Hiscox a brilliant place to work.
Which Hiscox products or service opportunities are you most excited about this year?
Cyber is probably the biggest single opportunity that’s presented itself to the insurance industry in 100-plus years. It’s an ever-evolving challenge for us to deliver products and services that really answer our customers’ needs. If we can do that, the opportunities are endless.
Over the next 12-18 months we’ll be reviewing our product offering for media clients to ensure that it remains market leading. We’ll also be launching a personal media offering aimed at high-profile individuals. This will protect them against things like the pitfalls of social media, after-dinner speeches, speaking at conferences, or TV and radio appearances. There’s a new market out there for that as well.
What do you enjoy most about working at Hiscox?
The ownership and autonomy that you get every day in your role to make it successful, as well as the accessibility and approachability of our senior executives. I find it amazing that they find time to help with a problem, give advice or input into a difficult decision – it’s very refreshing.