The launch to this year’s IT Pack events kicked off in style at Harlequins’ rugby ground

An Insurance Times award is a major career boost, two past winners revealed at the launch of this year’s IT Pack competition.

The event in association with Aviva celebrates the UK’s talented and entrepreneurial young brokers and crowns the best as overall winner.

In an exclusive interview, Ravenhall Risk Solutions managing director Neil Grimshaw and last year’s winner – Jardine Lloyd Thompson business development executive Leon Walker – talked to Insurance Times editor-in-chief Ellen Bennett about how winning an award had transformed their careers.

Grimshaw explained how winning the accolade of Insurance Times Young Achiever of the Year four years ago gave him a much-needed advantage in business.

“I set up my own brokerage in 2006 and in 2007 I applied for the Young Achiever award and was lucky enough to be highly commended,” he recalled.

“The reason I got involved was that I was pushed down that channel by a number of insurers – they advised that it would be good exposure for a fledgling business. And they were correct.”

Walker said winning the award had opened doors and given him access to some of the most important figures in the industry.

“My profile is higher than it has ever been – and I intend to make the most of that,” he said.

High points

Walker added that a personal highlight of the past year had been his appearance on the front cover of Insurance Times and meeting his idol, Allianz commercial lines director Chris Hanks.

“Unless you put your head above the parapet, you are not going to get to do those things.

“Being on the front cover with Chris Hanks was amazing – he is like the godfather of insurance. I just sat beside him and he had so much information to give me. You don’t have access to people if you just plod along,” Walker said.

Both past winners felt that the industry had many opportunities for talented young people.

“The industry doesn’t look like it did in 1996. People can rise to the top very quickly,” Grimshaw said.

“You have to find a way of being different and being better. If you are good at what you do, you will rise very quickly in this industry. That is one of the most fabulous things about it.”