The Warren Tickle Memorial Award for Young Professional Broker of the Year has been handed out to 27 young and inspiring brokers since its inception back in 1990. So, ahead of the revelation of this year’s winner, Insurance Adviser…

by Michelle Lam

The Warren Tickle Memorial Award for Young Professional Broker of the Year has been handed out to 27 young and inspiring brokers since its inception back in 1990. So, ahead of the revelation of this year’s winner, Insurance Adviser decided to speak to a few of our past winners to find out how the award changed their careers.


Insurance Adviser: Where are you now in your career?

RW: A lot has changed from the time I won the award. When I won, I was a divisional manager. Since winning I’ve had two promotions – which have enhanced my career. I’m currently the general manager and principal for Austbrokers ABS Pty Ltd. I was appointed to that role three years ago. I’m responsible for the General Insurance operation of Austbrokers ABS, that incorporates corporates, commercial, SMEs, ARs and a workers comp team. We’re a larger scale mid-market brokerage and I have approximately 53 staff under my management.

IA: What has been the impact of winning the award on your career?

RW: I still feel very humbled that I won the award. The finalists from the other States were outstanding candidates, so I was very grateful that I was the recipient. The award changed me – it instilled confidence in me and highlighted that I do have potential. Now when I get a large promotion, I feel that I can do the job. Prior to the award, there would have been a bit of self-doubt. Even with the award, my thinking was ‘I’ll apply but I
won’t win’. And winning the award, I thought if I can achieve this, I can achieve anything.

I guess it gave me permission to celebrate my achievements. It has given me a real sense of pride in our profession, our business, my colleagues and myself which has been great. The award sits proudly in my office to this day.
One of the other things that the award gave me was recognition from the people I work with. This came out in the application process which was fantastic.

I received a written statement from my employer, clients and insurers, and their words were very encouraging and appreciated. Having the right employer has played a huge part in my career. My employer is my mentor and friend. He encouraged me to apply for the award, and gave me a fantastic written statement. When it comes to promotion, development and growth in the business, I’ve always had someone that has confidence in me. He pushed me and never showed any doubt that I couldn’t. He’s been instrumental in my growth.

It gave me permission to celebrate my achievements… the award sits proudly in my office to this day.

IA: Reflecting on your goals when you won, which ones have you achieved and did winning the award help you get there faster?

RW: Yes, I believe the award supported my career progression. I’m a very goal-orientated person. At the time, I had a five-year plan of becoming general manager of Austbrokers ABS. I was into year one when I won the award. So I knew where I wanted to get to and what I needed to do to get there. The award gave me a lot of exposure. I got to meet many senior people in the profession who offered their support.

I also felt the award gave the industry as a whole confidence that I could run a business. This was especially since at that time I would have been in my mid-30s. Without the award, some might have questioned my goals. It
has given me credibility in the market. I’m in the process of working through my next five-year plan, which is for continual improvement and promotion. I have not stopped. I’ve not got to a senior role and go ‘that is the end of the road for me’. I will continue to strive and raise the bar.

IA: What have been your career highlights?

RW: There have been a number of things. The award itself was huge. The trip to London was one of the best things I’ve ever done; and the support from the insurance profession. It was such a privilege to be there. Another highlight has been the rise in my career. It’s been phenomenal and supported by some great people. I’ve also made good friends along the way.

For me, one of the best parts of in running a business in the insurance profession is the community work that we do – we support charities financially and personally. Having a corporate professional footprint that supports
not-for-profits is a wonderful thing.

IA: What would be your advice for young professionals now about progressing their career?

RW: My advice is simple – if you get nominated for the award, go for it. To me the process of the award was great. I got these fantastic references from my employer and client statements that show me what they think of me
and that was enough. It was such a great thing that they did for me.

Further, there is only one person responsible for your career and that is you. No one else can do it for you. Pick the right company, a supportive one. Young people are brighter, have more potential and more opportunities than ever so they need to use it. Don’t wait to be picked; go out there and give it a go.

IA: What does NIBA mean to you?

RW: NIBA’s role is critical. In terms of my professional life and personally, being involved with NIBA has been good for me. I think NIBA is sometimes underestimated. The work that it does for my business – I’m not the
one lobbying with Treasury or the government. Without NIBA who is going to do it? I’m grateful for what our association does for my business.


Insurance Adviser: Where are you now in your career?

CJ: I recently joined EBM as an Executive Account Director after spending most of my career at JLT (Jardine Lloyd Thompson). It’s a fresh start for me; an opportunity to utilise the skill set that I’ve developed over 17 years in a different environment. What I’m hoping to do is to be able to add value to EBM and complement the existing skills and framework within the company. It’s very much a partnership for me.

In my new role, there is a considerable component of business development, which I enjoy, especially when it comes to meeting new clients and learning about their specific risk exposures and attitude to these risks.
A key attribute of brokers is to learn and understand what the client is about, what are their drivers, the drivers in their industry, what they do, and make sure we effect a program that is both cost
effective and meets the requirements in terms of coverage.

For me, the skill I’ve developed is learning how to get a true understanding of what a client is about, what makes them tick, and what is most important to them. It doesn’t have to be about price – that’s important, but it’s also making sure that the client has the right coverage. Also, I like to see that my client takes some ownership of their insurance program, is fully aware and sees it as a partnership that we have with them, where we offer value to them and they see value in us.

IA: How did winning the award affect your career? Do you think it had a lasting impact on your career?

CJ: I was a little bit overwhelmed when I was nominated and then to go on and finally win it. To be honest, I was surprised I got nominated but thankful to the person who nominated me. Around the same time, I was seconded
JLT UK at the London headquarters. I didn’t have a doubt I could do the job, but when I won the award, it made me think, ‘I can make this a real success’.

IA: What do you think were the factors that won you the award and that would have helped you through your career?

CJ: At the time, I didn’t realise this, but now when I look back, one of the things that helped me would have been my ability to listen to the client and understand their situation, rather than presenting the problem to the insurer and expecting a result. I always try and understand what the issue is, and get a good grasp of it to try and find a solution. This is a point that came through from my references for the award.

Another important factor was that I had a great mentor and manager in Bill Barratt, who had a big impact on my career. He was the one who instigated my secondment to JLT London, to its energy division, which covered oil and gas, power, and construction. Bill had been an insurance manager at Woodside for many years, which enabled him to provide insight to what a client’s requirements are. Furthermore, his combination of commercial and
technical acumen provided a good benchmark for me personally. He was a pioneer of ‘client first’ attitude.

I am a long-suffering fan of the Fremantle Dockers – over 15 years. I’ve recently been accepted as a Harbour Master.

IA: Looking at you career now, what have been the highlights?

CJ: Winning the Warren Tickle award was one. Within the industry, people remember it and still talk to me about it. And the little wins – it’s always nice when you get a good result for a client. My secondment to London was a definite highlight. My wife and I were there for just under three years. That experience has had a lasting impact on us, in terms of what we experienced personally and professionally.

And as an extension of that, without that experience in London and success I had there, I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today. The award – and the confidence boost that it gave me – has made an indelible mark on my career.

IA: What would be your advice for young professionals now re-progressing their career?

CJ: Make sure that you put yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. The biggest example of that for me was living in UK. I was working in insurance and living in London, away from everything I knew, my family and friends… but it allowed me to understand a lot more about insurance from a global perspective. Understanding that helped me to service my clients better – because I could take something from what I know
of the UK, Europe or the US – wherever – and it gives me a broader understanding of what others do and the different approaches that can be applied.

So my biggest single advice is: insurance can take you anywhere in the world, try somewhere else. Broaden your experience and understanding of insurance and of the world. On top of that, I would add that it’s
important to continue learning. I’ve made that a priority throughout my career. I don’t think anyone can stop learning. Even though my emphasis is about understanding clients, it’s also important to understand what we do
and the industry we work in.

Insurance broking has been a great career. It is not what I chose. Like others, I fell into it. My father is in insurance and he offered me a role filing while I was at uni. I was studying for a bachelor of business,
with an emphasis on information systems and information technology in business. I was aiming for a business analyst role. As it turned out, I ended up staying in insurance. And it’s been the right choice for me.

IA: What does NIBA mean to you?

CJ: I’ve been a member of NIBA for as long as I can remember. I was on the WA YP Committee many years ago until I moved to the UK. I joined the WA Divisional Committee over two years ago. One of the things I’ve tried to do as much as I possibly can is to highlight NIBA as promoting the role and value of insurance broking and insurance, and especially the professionalism of the industry. We, as an industry, particularly insurance broking, don’t always get seen as professionals. For me, NIBA is about being able to get in front of the relevant parties – be it government, regulators, or the community – and promote what we do as a profession.

NIBA is important to all brokers as its objective is to represent and promote high standards of professionalism and competence; as well as to boost the profile of the insurance industry and its significant role in the community.


Insurance Adviser: Where are you now in your career?

JR: I’m an account manager with JLT (Jardine Lloyd Thompson) in Cairns. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years. It’s funny how insurance broking went from being a temporary job to a 20-year career. I’m North Queensland born and bred and grew up in a sugarcane area. I went to JCU in Townsville and completed a Bachelor of Commerce. I was going to be an accountant. It was the mid-90s and I was job hunting, applying to accounting firms, state and federal jobs, banks… and one of the job ads I saw was for a trainee insurance broker. I had no idea what that was but it sounded like something that would not be dissimilar to accounting and dealing with numbers. I applied, went for the interview and got the job!

IA: What has been the highlight of your career?

JR: It was receiving the Warren Tickle Memorial Award for Young Professional Broker of the Year in 2000 at the NIBA Convention in Cairns. I think I was too young then to appreciate the magnitude of it. Even now it seems a bit surreal to me. But it was definitely a highlight. Another highlight was being the Branch Manager in Mareeba for over eight years. I took a lot of pride in that; I had a great team around me. We were a tight unit
and everyone worked well together.

IA: What are your goals now?

JR: I can’t say I have a five-year plan. In fact, JLT is only my third employer in my career. I’m planning on staying here a long time. I’ve been here for 14 months, so for me, it will be about consolidating my role.
My focus now is to look after my clients. Most of my time in the industry has been dealing with SME, mums and dads, farms, and managing a small branch. In contrast, JLT is more corporate, dealing with larger accounts. This means I’m learning a lot of new things, and it’s exciting. I’m doing work that I haven’t been involved in in the past, so I’m staying fresh. I love my job, and working here in Cairns.

While its shown me a new way of working and operating, as I’m dealing with larger accounts, I also realise they are like all my previous clients – it’s based on relationships and service. Beyond that, I would like to gain
my QPIB at some stage.

I was named after Clint Eastwood – Clint is my middle name. And I love his movies, especially the spaghetti Westerns like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

IA: How did winning the award impact on your career?

JR: I would say it has helped me indirectly in my career. Before I won the award, insurance was more of a ‘stopping point’. I would say I didn’t understand or know where I wanted to be in my career. Winning the award was an important time for me, because from that point on I considered that insurance could be a career for me. The award was also a confidence boost. The fact that there is only one winner in the whole country a year, means only a handful of people are ever going to win throughout the years. When people know that you’ve won the award, you can tell that they open their eyes a bit more. There’s a prestige to it; it gives you credibility. Any winner of the award no matter where and what job they go to will be looked at extremely favourably, I feel, it will help you get to where you want to go.

IA: What would your advice be for young professionals now about progressing their career?

JR: Be patient. Insurance is a career – a very good career in fact. This industry provides wonderful opportunities. The skills I’ve learnt helped me develop as a person. So don’t give it away too early; stick it out a bit
longer, do your trade. Consider it a career and treat it like a career and you’ll do very well with it. As soon as I did that it had helped me significantly. We have a wonderful industry. I feel we need to recognise that a bit better than we do now and the award is part of that.

IA: What does NIBA mean to you?

JR: NIBA helps us be a better profession. We need NIBA to push the industry forward in terms of education and professionalism. NIBA is also essential to the industry, helping us stay current and modern. NIBA’s role is also vital in speaking to government. Governments tend to be reactionary, so we need NIBA there because it understands the industry and can speak to government on our behalf. Without NIBA, we would end up with bad legislation
and bad results for the insurance industry and clients.