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Graduate Alumni Jon Semple, now Admiral’s Group Operational Risk Manager

Meet Jon Semple, Admiral’s Group Operational Risk Manager and former Welsh Financial Services Graduate:

What did you study at University?

I studied Maths at Swansea University.

What made you choose Admiral as a rotation?

I first chose Admiral just to see what it was like! I went into the graduate scheme wanting to try as many different businesses and departments as possible, to understand what I did and didn’t like working in. It’s something I would recommend to anyone joining the graduate scheme.

What made you choose the WFS graduate scheme?

I had little professional work experience when I left university, and the WFS graduate scheme offered me the opportunity to work within different businesses and different departments. The broad scope of the scheme was the reason why I chose it.

How did your degree help you on the programme at Admiral?

At present within companies, everything is data-driven, so my degree gave me a very solid foundation.

However, my degree wasn’t vocational. As I travelled around the business, I discovered that many employees had vocational degrees, which helped them into specific job roles. This meant that they had a very clear career path from early on, something that I didn’t have.

Although I didn’t have a set career path- the graduate scheme allowed me to try different roles, within a nurturing environment, and to see where my strengths lay.

Can you talk us through your journey on the WFS graduate scheme?

I had the opportunity to experience three different job roles, in three separate companies. Before starting on the scheme, I was asked what type of roles I was interested in, and underwriting was what I wanted to do.

I started in underwriting in Atradius for 6-months, which was brilliant. I loved seeing how the company was run and meeting new people.

From Atradius, I moved to Admiral, where again I was in the underwriting department for 6-months. During the remainder of the scheme, I stayed in Admiral and moved around some of the different departments. My next placement was in Customer Contact Strategy, which was a mixture of digital and marketing.

Finally, I transferred into Risk, where I still am today!

Can you talk me through your career at Admiral since leaving the graduate scheme?

I spent eighteen months out of the two years of the graduate scheme at Admiral. I finished my six months within Risk in 2014 and I went straight to work in Risk in France. I stayed in France for four months and then travelled over to work in Spain. The opportunities to work in both France and Spain were amazing and allowed me to mature and understand the scope of my role. If you get given the opportunity to travel, I’d recommend it to anyone!

Risk as a department was growing very quickly at the time, with new regulations, and was becoming a hot topic. I was very lucky to get into a relatively small department and be able to watch it transform into what it’s like today.

Risk is a brilliant department because it allows you to see the whole business, and it gives me a good understanding of the whole company.

I also got given the opportunity to work on a project in Italy for eight months called ‘The Growing-Up Governance Project’. This was a brilliant project as I got to work closely with Milena Mondini, who is now the CEO of Admiral.

In early 2018, I moved onto the Brexit project. Collaborating with European and UK teams. I was able to use my work on Governance, to help set up the new EU insurance company – AECS… Which is by far the biggest achievement of my time at Admiral, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to work on such an exciting project.

Were there any challenges you faced when you spent your time working abroad?

The aspect that surprised me the most when I worked abroad, was that the culture was very similar in all the offices. There is an ‘’Admiral culture’’ across the whole group. Every person I had the opportunity to work with was helpful and gave me opportunities to develop.

The language barrier was the biggest challenge, although the people I met helped me overcome the problems. The language barrier also helped me develop as a person as I had to be very clear about my job role and objectives, as I had to communicate it to others speaking in their second language.

These difficulties associated with working in different countries are tiny compare to the incredible opportunities and experiences I had working abroad. I would recommend the opportunity to anyone. If an opportunity is there, just grab it! That’s the one thing I’ve found about Admiral – just ask someone if you can try something, the worst that can be said is no. I’ve asked myself and I’ve been given fantastic opportunities as a result.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working within the Group Risk Team, our role is to ensure Admiral’s enterprise risk management framework is embedded and the business is effectively managing risk.. Some key things that sit within my key job remit are, monitoring Admiral Group’s risk appetite, monitoring Admiral’s risk profile and reporting on risks to relevant committees and Boards. There’s a lot to love about working in risk, but my favourite part of the job is working with all the different subsidiaries around the world.

Is there anything you’d like to say to someone interested in a career within Risk?

It’s a great way to see the whole business. There are not many departments or job roles that allow you to have that oversight of a company. Further to this, it also encourages you to see the business from a different point of view.

What makes Admiral stand out to you from other companies?

It’s the culture. I haven’t worked in many different companies, but we have people coming to Admiral from all over, and they cannot believe how amazing the culture is… I have benefitted from the culture in many ways. I know I have been extremely lucky to have been allowed to travel and given challenging opportunities to develop throughout my time at Admiral… I can’t speak more highly of Admiral, and what it has given me.

When we talk about the WFS graduate scheme, Admiral is the only FTSE 100 company with its headquarters in Wales! You can move around the whole group and business, an opportunity that you wouldn’t necessarily get in another company.
Further to this, the company is continuing to grow! There’s lots of expansion and diversification happening, it’s an exciting time to be on board!

What piece of advice would you give to anyone currently on the programme?

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You must ask for opportunities. I didn’t end up going abroad because someone chose me as I was fantastic at my job, I got the opportunity because I asked.

Asking for opportunities also helps management understand your goals, this allows them to support you achieving these goals.

Another recommendation is to try out different departments, so you can experience different roles and see what you enjoy or thrive at. If you have a clear image of what you want to do in the future, try and work in departments or companies that facilitate that job role. The more experience you have under your belt the better.

If you are unsure of where you see yourself (like me, as I took three separate placements to discover I loved Risk), the graduate scheme is the ideal opportunity to try different departments. Once you become permanent and full-time it is very difficult to apply and move around, due to interviews and the high level of other candidates going for roles.

What would you say to anybody interested in a career at Admiral?

Do it, and you won’t regret it! The supportive and fun nature of the company is something that makes us unique. I’d recommend everyone try to use at least one of their 6-month WFS graduate scheme placements working at Admiral.