Putting the people first: An interview with Howden Group, UK IT Awards finalist

clock • 4 min read
Putting the people first: An interview with Howden Group, UK IT Awards finalist
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Putting the people first: An interview with Howden Group, UK IT Awards finalist

Employees are Howden’s largest shareholder group, giving them a real voice in the running of the company

Many companies talk a good game when it comes to treatment of their staff, but being an outstanding place to work goes beyond putting out a few groups of beanbag chairs and offering twice-yearly mindfulness sessions. It's about involving staff in the beating heart of the brand, instilling a sense of ownership and loyalty that drives and motivates them.

Howden Group Holdings has hit on a winner with its own organisational structure, and its place on the shortlist for the Best Place to Work in IT category at the UK IT Industry Awards 2021 is a testament to the company's success so far. We talked to CIO Lyn Grobler to find out more.

Lyn Grobler

Computing: What is Howden Group all about?

Lyn Grobler: We are a global, employee-owned group, with more than 9,000+ people in over 45 territories, handling over $12 billion premium on behalf of clients.

Howden Group has always been a company with a difference - with employee ownership at its heart and clients at the front of its mind.

Founded in 1994 as a specialist broker with three people and a dog, we are now the largest independent insurance intermediary group globally.

The Group comprises Howden, the international challenger broker; DUAL, the largest international MGA; and HX, one of the insurance industry's leading digital, data and analytics businesses.

We are a group of international experts with a local touch and a digital backbone. With operations in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the USA and Latin America, Howden Group has grown as the group challenging the status quo for clients every day and in every market, we operate.

CTG: How are you different from your peers?

LG: We pride ourselves in delivering expertise with a different perspective to clients, broker partners and capacity providers worldwide. That perspective stems from the five things the business had when it started:

  • Equity ownership - the people doing the business own the business
  • Minority external investors with a long-term outlook to support our growth
  • Expertise - to serve our clients
  • Friendship and trust - to build culture
  • A commitment to building a business for the long term with independence enshrined in its fabric.

Today alongside our long term, aligned growth equity investors, employees make up the single largest shareholder group. Simply put, at the heart of our sustainable growth story and our ability to deliver to clients has been a relentless focus on talent. The ownership structure of the Group, combined with our focus on attracting entrepreneurial talent with expertise, means we put our people first, and they, in turn, can put their clients first; and so we prosper when our clients do.

We have chosen to build a different kind of business, and this is our different perspective.

CTG: Is there a particular company achievement from the last 12 months that you're most proud of?

LG: 2020 was a year unlike any other with the extraordinary challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of sustained investment in flexible, agile, secure and scalable infrastructure, and by always putting our people first, we have delivered business as usual in abnormal times for our clients and partners. Perhaps most importantly, the friendship and trust in this Group stand out most to me, particularly at this time, and it is this of which we are most proud.

CTG: What are you working on this year?

LG: Our strategic objective is to use data and technology to provide value to clients and ensure we are the disruptor, not the disrupted. To this end, our focus is on:

  • Applying digital technology for good. Using digital technology to deliver products that help address environmental and social issues to solve some of the big challenges of insurance.
  • Investing in sustainable and resilient technology solutions. We aim to contribute to a more circular economy, alongside building and implementing the technology foundations that will support our business demands today and in the future. Integral to our sustainable growth is a robust cybersecurity strategy.
  • Inspiring the next generation. This year we are launching our IT apprenticeship scheme - hiring 20 local, young people to inspire them into IT careers.

CTG: Why are events like the UK IT Industry Awards important to the IT industry?

LG: Events are so important in recognising the contribution and impact technology is having on society. It not only shines a light on brilliant people and organisations but also inspires the next generation into IT.

The UK IT Industry Awards will return to its traditional home in Battersea Evolution on the 10th November this year. Be sure to secure your ticket now - you won't want to miss this.

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