Nick Wills didn’t have insurance as a career path in mind when he finished secondary school in his hometown in Kent, England. But at age 17, he started working as a reinsurance claims technician for a broking house at Lloyd’s of London.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he says. “I had a friend I grew up with who was working in insurance in London, and I sort of fell into it, to be honest.”
The variety of work hooked Wills and still appeals to him nearly 30 years later in his role as senior vice president, head of property for Argo Insurance Bermuda.
“One of the things I liked about it – and still like now – is the range of people you meet in the industry from different backgrounds. I still find that fascinating today,” he says. “Insurance has taken me from London, when I first began, to Sydney, Australia, where I worked for a few years, and now, Bermuda.”
Along the way he’s discovered exciting elements of the insurance industry that he suspects go unnoticed by many outside the profession. In particular, he enjoys observing clients’ processes in person, including visits to the South Carolina plant where Boeing 787s are built, a coal mine in Pennsylvania, and a Ford Motor Company truck plant in Kentucky.
“Outside what we do day to day, the ability to see firsthand what our clients do is phenomenal,” he says. “You have an idea in your head of how they build Ford F-150 trucks, but when you walk about the plant and see it, it’s mind-blowing.”
Insurance as a career has an undeserved reputation for being dull, he says.
“When you are putting on a hard hat and steel cap boots to go into a coal mine, it’s anything but boring.”
Being challenged – and inspired – by his team
Wills takes his leadership role seriously. He considers managing his team to be one of his biggest challenges because it requires balancing the interests and goals of various team members with company expectations. Wills has strategies for striking and maintaining that balance.
“One of the big things is awareness that it’s important to me that everyone knows where we are going, although we may not know how we are going to get there at this point in time,” he says.
Wills strives to help his team members grow personally and professionally.
“I love my team. They are brilliant,” he says. “Some of them I have worked with for 10 years; some of them I have worked with for two years. When we are all together and do what we do, we are very good at it, and I’m very proud of it as a result.”
The importance of being confident
Wills admits he spends more time than he should at the office, but he is clear when it comes to what he expects out of his professional life.
“If I get up in the morning, and I know what I have ahead of me that day and I am not overly enthusiastic about what that is, then it’s time to do something else,” he says.
His advice for those just starting out in insurance as a career mirrors the kind of big-picture planning he encourages among his team members. Setting personal goals is key.
“Confidence is one thing people should have in the industry – overconfidence not so much,” he says. “Know where you want to be, and have the confidence and the drive to get there. Not everybody wants to have a career that leads them to be the CEO or the head of something. There are people who are happy to have a day-to-day role and be the best at that.”
Even though Wills revels in work, he enjoys adventures outside the office – although one of his favorite activities isn’t available in Bermuda.
“I am licensed to sky dive,” he says. “There is something invigorating about throwing yourself outside a perfectly good aircraft. The smile it puts on your face is incredible.”
Wills learned to skydive years ago while visiting New Zealand. He loved his first tandem skydive so much he extended his stay so that he could obtain his own license.
Although it’s been a while since he’s jumped out of a plane, he seeks out interesting experiences whenever he has the chance to travel.
“I just enjoy going different places and seeing different things,” he says. “The world is a big place; I have a curious mind. Fortunately, travel is part of my job role.”
On a recent trip to Australia’s Northern Territory, Wills visited Uluru, the world’s largest monolith, which measures 1,142 feet tall, 2.2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, with a circumference of 5.8 miles.
“It’s in the middle of the Red Centre, a big desert,” he says. “There’s nothing there apart from this huge rock. It’s quite inspiring when you go somewhere like that.”
Learn more about Argo Insurance.