Team GB – Meet the folks
GB Management Team
James began his insurance career as an underwriter with Chubb in New York in 1983. In 1987, he emigrated to the UK with CT Bowring (Marsh) before returning to underwriting with Brockbank at Lloyd’s where he served as Director of Underwriting. In 2003, James began his involvement with MGAs, serving first as CEO of DUAL and then going on to establish and run Thistle, the JLT-owned underwriting agency. In 2011 he became an investor in and director of GB Underwriting. James has oversight responsibility for GB’s underwriting capital partnerships and for the Agency’s operational and compliance activities. In addition, he works with Russell on key broker relationships and GB’s distribution strategy. For several years, James served on the board of the Managing General Agents Association (MGAA) and chaired the Association’s Legal, Regulatory & Compliance Committee. James has a passion for people and for identifying ways to develop them to their full potential. He also has a terrific sense of humour, which is a view uniquely held by him. James has a BA (History) from Colgate University in New York and an AMP designation from INSEAD in Fontainebleau.
Director of Underwriting
Russell kicked-off his insurance career in 1999 as a claims handler with Capita. He then got a taste for underwriting when he worked for an MGA before he went on to co-found GB Underwriting in 2003. Russell has responsibility for all of GB’s underwriting activities, product development and distribution and with James, manages broker relationships. Over the years he has demonstrated a particular ability to intuitively know and understand the specific needs and requirements of both his brokers and their clients. He takes time to listen to the issues and as a result, people trust his judgement. Russell’s authority isn’t limited to his line size. He also exercises it as a Parish Councillor in his local village. Russell has a BA (Business) from the University of Northampton.
GB Liability Team
Senior Liability Underwriter
Shortly after National Employers Mutual opened in 1914, a young Paul walked through their doors, straight after completing his ‘O’ levels. Actually, maybe he started with them in 1984. Either way, there’s probably no type of liability risk that Paul hasn’t seen since then. He likes anything but a ‘bog standard’ risk and is recognised throughout the world (or in Essex at least) as the go-to-guy whenever there’s a technical underwriting question. Paul’s brokers even call him for advice about risks that aren’t actually placed with GB. Sadly, his risk assessment expertise does not extend to football (he’s a Hammers fan). Paul joined GB in 2017 and we are all a lot smarter because of it. We even learned that he once won a frame of snooker off Ronnie O’Sullivan. Who cares if Ronnie was only 11 at the time!
Senior Liability Underwriter
Niall started his insurance career as a broker in 2002. Three years later he moved into underwriting when he joined GB. Niall underwrites Liability and Contract Works and is very involved with GB’s online excess of loss facility. He is a determined character and approaches every risk with a “can do” attitude. Niall likes nothing better than seeing his brokers successfully win new business. He’s prepared to be patient (a trait he has nurtured as an Arsenal fan) and reckons the risk assessment work he’s done as a volunteer on several charity building projects makes him a better underwriter. As an avid snowboarder he’ s apparently not entirely risk-averse! Niall has a degree in Corporate Management from Anglia Ruskin University and is currently doing CII studies.
For a decade, Michael worked as an insurance broker before joining GB Underwriting in 2010. While much of his underwriting activity has a liability bias, he is also involved with commercial packages and has many years’ experience in Property Owners insurances. Brokers find Michael good-humoured and very approachable (must be his Italian roots). Having spent considerable time seeing risks from the broker’s perspective, Michael is able to bring discernible empathy to the job and he is recognised by his brokers as a ‘solution-provider’. He likes to relax with a snooker cue in one hand and a rare, collectible whiskey in the other while Liverpool FC are on the telly. Michael completed a two year Advanced Engineering course before embarking on his insurance career in 2000.
After completing his work experience at GB, Ben returned in 2014 and now provides clerical and administrative support across both the underwriting and accounts teams. One has to be careful not to be fooled by Ben’s quiet demeanour; it belies his desire to expand his career as well as his cheekiness and quick wit. As a West Ham season ticket holder, he must have a sense of humour. And when he’s not dressing up as Captain America or watching his football team get demolished, Ben does some demolition work of his own with a licensed asbestos removal firm. Ben left school with two A*s in A-level Business Studies and plans to pursue his CII exams.
Kelly worked as an insurance broker for over 15 years before joining GB in 2017. That means she probably has as good an insight as anyone into what our brokers want and need to do the best job for their clients. And while there may be similarities between brokers, Kelly knows that no two are the exactly the same. Maybe it’s intuition. Or maybe it’s because she’s mum to twin boys. As a life-long Bradford City football supporter, Kelly also has a nose for commercial opportunities. (Did you notice that City scarves just happen to be the same colours as Harry Potter’s house scarf at Hogwarts?) She also carries a torch for Robbie Williams. When asked about it, Kelly says, ‘You Know Me’; I have ‘No Regrets’. That’s cool. We still think ‘She’s the One.’
GB Property Team
Head of Property
Dan is a nerd. Not only did he win awards in physics and chemistry at school, he genuinely chose to go into insurance as a career. That was back in 1995. Since then, he’s gained vast experience, successfully underwriting virtually every class of insurance known to man. But this success has come at a cost. His giant science brain works so hard it actually heats up and has created a hair desert. Dan is keen on motorsport, and it’s reflected in the job he does for his brokers. Like a TAG Heuer F1 sports watch, he doesn’t crack under pressure. Dan joined us in 2017 and brought with him (among other things) the fourth set of twins to team GB. He also brought several dogs, cats and chickens and a reputation for terrible puns. Dan, ‘Don’t stop retrievin’ ; Hold on to that feline.’
Helen knows a thing or two about insurance. She began her career with RSA back in 1984. While she’s underwritten a diverse range of insurance products, Helen spent 10 years underwriting commercial property business before joining GB in 2019. Her brokers find it very helpful if they pay attention to detail, because they soon find out that Helen does! She is also pleasantly impatient. What we mean is, Helen doesn’t sit around. She likes to get on with the job. And that spills over into her home life. When there’s DIY to be getting on with, Helen takes charge. Just ask her husband. She also likes horses. But we’ve already told you Helen doesn’t mess about. Think of a female version of Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider. Which isn’t to say Helen doesn’t appreciate a joke. It’s just that you’d better get to the punchline pretty quick!
Matt signed with Team GB in 2016. He began his insurance career as a broker in 2009, after leaving college with A-levels in economics and IT. He then spent several years underwriting a variety of products that mirrored his fascination with cars and boats. (We don’t think he’s ever underwritten aviation risk despite holding a private pilot’s licence). Notwithstanding his love of fast cars and power boats, Matt is incredibly laid-back. We’ve never seen him crack under pressure – even late on a Friday afternoon with a seemingly impossible risk. His easy style with brokers may also have something to do with him being half Australian. But as any sports fan will attest, beneath the ‘G’day, mate’ veneer lies a fiercely competitive spirit…
Underwriting and Accounts Assistant
Megan describes herself as ‘easy-going’ and ‘happy to go with the flow’. We don’t believe her. She managed a McDonald’s restaurant before coming to GB. Ever been at Mickey D’s after 11pm on a Friday night? Megan is clearly up for a challenge and she tells us she’s more than ready to get stuck-in-to whatever we throw at her. Megan works her socks off in GB’s accounts department and if you owe us money, you’re likely to hear from her. When she’s not managing our cash flow, Megan keeps fit by doing aerial hoop classes (yes, we also had to Google that) and by walking her Bichon Frise (which, as far as we can make out, is French for ‘frozen hot dog’).
GB Accounts and Administration Team
Office and Accounts Manager
Pippa entered the world of financial services in 1998, when she worked for an insurance company during her summer holidays. She joined GB in 2005 and serves as office manager and has oversight responsibility for the accounts function of the business. Pip also provides senior support for GB’s compliance, HR, audit and control activities. While she is very approachable, it’s sometimes hard to get her attention. That’s because when she’s in the office, Pip’s got her head down and is intensely focussed on the work in front of her. She also has very precise standards and her organisational skills are a great benefit not only to GB and our business partners, but to real ale too. (Pip and her husband home brew some very fine IPA.) Pippa left education after completing her A Levels and obtaining an NVQ Level 3 in business administration.
Operational Support Manager
Wendy has a need for speed. She does everything pronto. Keen to work, she left school like a shot and became a junior broker at the age of 15 (she wanted to be a copper, but they said she had to be 18; she told ‘em she couldn’t wait). Keeping up the relentless pace, Wendy bolted from broking after barely 13 years in the job. Her avant-garde credentials intact, Wendy became an underwriter with the progressively named ‘Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company’. She nailed her Cert CII and left HSB lickety-split, a mere 16 years after joining them. At GB, Wendy gets an adrenaline hit from answering brokers’ calls before the phone even rings! She slows her heart rate down by jumping out of planes and reaching a terminal velocity of 125 miles per hour before deploying a ‘chute (for risk management reasons). She also likes to walk her dog, but ‘walk’ is probably the wrong word.
Senior Underwriting Assistant and Claims Manager
Claire’s first ever job was with Cornhill Insurance in 1983 in the commercial lines department. She continued in various underwriting roles until 1991, when she took on the job of being a mother. She returned to insurance in 2006 and joined GB Underwriting in 2011 to provide both underwriting support and to serve as GB’s key point of contact for all claims. Claire has a reputation for getting the job done. She doesn’t like loose ends and her attention to detail wins praise from her brokers. Claire loves being a mother – to staff, to Suzi (her pet Westie) and (in her dreams) to Olly Murs. She also loves languages and speaks French, German and Spanish. Claire left school after O-levels and went on to successfully complete her Diploma in Insurance (Dip CII).
Senior Accounts Assistant
Abi’s first and only job in the insurance sector is with GB Underwriting. She joined GB in 2010 and has responsibility for the day-to-day running of the accounts department. In addition, Abi produces KPI reports and regulatory returns and works with the directors on the creation of the annual budget and management accounts. Abi possesses an infectious laugh and is proud of the fact that her desk could be mistaken for a tuck shop. She’s also known to frequent the Rivoli Ballroom in London where her ability to count is put to good use on her Jive and Swing steps. After completing A Levels at Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Abi went on to earn her Association of Chartered Certified Accounts (ACCA) qualification.
Lucy joined the GB family in January 2015 to create and roll out our GB Beekeepers campaign. With twelve years’ experience at the University of Essex – where she was responsible for its flagship publications and recruitment campaigns – Lucy is looking forward to developing her skills in the financial services industry (a world away from student life!). Her creativity and eye for detail also make Lucy at home in the kitchen; a confident baker of cakes and treats, she won first prize in the Great Bentley Village Show for her fruited scones. When she’s not trying to keep tabs on our 80,000 honey bees, Lucy is a busy mum to her twin boys, Alexander and Henry.