GreenKite’s Ask Me Anything – Q&A with Luke Appleton

We are delighted to introduce you to Luke Appleton, a seasoned Operations and Transformation Consultant at GreenKite. Luke brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, with an extensive career journey that has led to his current role. With a passion for the insurance industry and a deep understanding of the consultancy dynamics, Luke has become an invaluable asset to the team. Over the course of his career, Luke has navigated the complex landscape of the insurance sector, refining his talents in business analysis and project management. His insights have not only cultivated his personal development but have also left an imprint on the projects and teams he's been part of at GreenKite. In this session, we will explore Luke's insights into the role of Operations and Transformation Consultant and gain valuable perspectives on the insurance industry's future. We also seek his guidance for aspiring professionals looking to follow in his footsteps. So, without further ado, let's get started with this Q&A!

Can you describe the path that led to your role as an Operations and Transformation Consultant at GreenKite? Were there pivotal experiences or decisions that influenced your career path?

I started my journey at Aviva as a test analyst. This role demanded a deep understanding of system functionality and the creation of business scenarios to rigorously test these systems. My fascination with this process naturally led me to transition from testing to code development. My role demanded both a thorough understanding of the systems and a great attention to detail. Without these elements, my coding efforts would have struggled. After several years at Aviva, I moved on to AXA, initially in a coding role, but I swiftly transitioned into a managerial position, overseeing teams and change planning. This hybrid role involved managing stakeholders, facilitating prioritisation for the change department, collaborating with developers and outsourcing providers to devise and document solutions, and orchestrating change through its lifecycle. This multifaceted role captivated me as it allowed me to engage in a diverse range of activities and deliver substantial value to the business.

What do you find most rewarding about your Operations and Transformation Consultant role at GreenKite?

I enjoy the variety of tasks that I tackle, even when I’m pushed beyond my comfort zone. This continuous stretching of my capabilities has allowed me to broaden my knowledge in areas I hadn’t previously explored in past roles. GreenKite boasts a well-rounded team with a wealth of expertise. So, even when I face challenging assignments, I know that the extensive support of the GreenKite team is always there.

Could you describe a typical day in your role? What are your primary responsibilities and tasks?

This depends on the project I am working on and in what capacity. Some days are full of meetings, and driving changes forward as a Project Manager, for others I am taking action and progressing tasks myself, it all comes down to the needs of the client and project. When project managing, I always feel it’s important to understand the change in depth, rather than just setting deadlines and chasing task owners.

How do you manage and prioritise multiple projects in a fast-paced insurance industry?

I am often assigned to more than one project at any given time, which means my resource is split by a number of days allocated per week, this tends to work out as an average rather than a solid split, so I can manage my time effectively if one project needs more resource than the other, I also get involved in change internal to GreenKite, which is equally important to ensure that we are able to effectively manage client projects. It’s always a balancing act!

What is the most challenging aspect of running a project and how do you overcome it?

One of the most common and challenging aspects of working on projects is managing senior stakeholders who are removed from the work and can potentially have unrealistic expectations of how fast a change can be achieved. Therefore, stakeholder management is crucial, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page is vital.

How do you stay updated on evolving insurance regulations and industry trends, and how does this knowledge impact your work?

In our environment of constant integration, we work diligently to stay up-to-date with the latest data standards and products, preventing us from falling behind other insurers. One of my current projects encompasses various components, including data entry, the Policy Administration System (PAS), rating engine, data lake, and reporting. However, our data exchange predominantly relies on email-based spreadsheet communication and mapping through data standards.

I attend regular webinars and market briefings to ensure my comprehensive understanding of the evolving insurance regulations that are critical to ensuring that data systems and communication methods remain compliant.

Collaboration is key in project management. Could you describe your experience in working with cross-functional teams, both within and outside the organisation, to achieve project goals?

Collaborating with outsourced providers is a common occurrence in our projects. Effective management of several internal and external teams to GreenKite is paramount. I believe that working outside the organisation doesn’t hinder a project’s success if the project team is well-aligned, has a clear understanding of deliverables, and is fully committed to achieving the project’s objectives. This ensures all teams work together in alignment.

In the insurance industry, balancing innovation with compliance and risk management is crucial. How do you approach this balance in your projects?

My role typically involves implementing technology decisions that have already been made. Our primary focus is on delivering the best possible implementation of that technology to the business. Managing risk is a constant aspect of our project work, and we closely monitor and, if necessary, escalate any risk-related issues to a project sponsor.

What advice would you offer to younger individuals considering a career as a Business Analyst or Project Manager in today’s ever-evolving professional landscape, particularly within the insurance industry?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, regardless of your role in a project or a team you need to have a solid understanding of what you are working on, it’s easy to rely on subject matter experts as a Project Manager and just fall back on keeping track of tasks and plans but I feel it’s key to have a solid understanding of what it is you are delivering in order that you can feed into conversations where necessary.

What are you seeing as one of the primary challenges the insurance industry is facing in your role?

Bordereaux management – it’s scary but I really can’t see that much progress has been made in this area, everyone seems to have an issue. Firms are still managing bordereaux in the same way they did 10 years ago. There is a growing recognition that changes need to be made as the data is key to risk management.

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