’I look forward to the value she will add to the Markel business,’ says UK divisional managing director

Markel has appointed Jo Sykes as its new divisional director for the UK broker channel in a bid to support its growth strategy “with a clear focus on developing broker relationships,” a statement released today (5 December 2023) said.

Based in the Leeds office, Sykes will assume full profit and loss responsibility for the growing Markel broker distribution segment. 

The statement explained that, guided by Sykes’ leadership, Markel will persist in expanding its specialised portfolios, focusing on areas such as care, technology and construction.

Additionally, a statement explained that the insurer aims to fortify its position as a market leader in professional indemnity within the UK market.

Sykes will join Markel on 2 January 2024 as a member of the UK executive team and will report to Markel UK divisional managing director Neil Galjaard.

Galjaard commented: “As a people-first business, I’m delighted to welcome Jo to Markel. She brings a wealth of experience and an excellent track-record of building, developing and maintaining broker relationships.

“Her arrival at Markel is yet more evidence that we will continue to invest in our people and deliver the market-leading levels of service that our brokers and policyholders expect of us.

”I look forward to the value she will add to the Markel business.”


Markel explained that Sykes’ experience would bring a commercial focus to the business that it hoped would balance Markel’s continued ambition for growth with a long-term, sustainable underwriting approach.

Sykes will join Markel from Axa, where she was most recently director of commercial SME. In this role, she led the insurer’s growth plans, digital transformation and associated underwriting results.

Her career has spanned over 25 years and included roles at Zurich and RSA across commercial insurance.

The appointment came after Galjaard told Insurance Times earlier this year (1 December 2023) that “broker relationships are a cornerstone of [Markel’s] success story”.

He added: ”We’ve strategically positioned ourselves in seven UK locations, ensuring our presence extends into the regions where our brokers operate.

”Our structure means that brokers have direct access to specialist decision-makers who swiftly respond to opportunities, provide valuable advice or make immediate decisions.”