The IT Pack finale

One year, ten cities and 110 young brokers from 70 companies later, Insurance Times’s whirlwind tour of the UK came to a thrilling finale last week at Vinopolis on London’s South Bank.

Twelve of the best and brightest new faces in the industry joined Insurance Times and sponsor Aviva to make their case to win the coveted IT Pack member of the year award. The stars of the future readily admitted to suffering from nerves as they prepared to present to Aviva sales and marketing director John Kitson, corporate sales director Janice Deakin, Insurance Times editor Tom Broughton and celebrity guest Nick Hewer, Sir Alan Sugar’s right-hand man from the BBC’s The Apprentice.

The 12 hopefuls did themselves proud, nonetheless, with presentations outlining their thoughts on the broker market and their own ambitions.

They had been chosen from the many great brokers that joined Insurance Times on the IT Pack journey. Over the past year, there have been many lively discussions over the issues facing young brokers at the start of their careers, including training, professionalism and the recession. There was also much consideration of wider market topics, and the dynamics of individual regions. Brokers from firms of all sizes spoke passionately about their chosen career paths, and many had impressive ambitions for the future.

After a challenging morning, it was time for a relaxing lunch and some networking, before an entertaining speech from Hewer. He regaled the audience with tales of his colourful career, and insights into what it’s really like working for Sir Alan.

All too soon, the day came to an end. It was tough, but the judges have made their decision – and the winner of the 2009 IT Pack will be revealed at the Insurance Times Awards on 4 December.

The finalists:

  • Kali Allen, New business co-ordinator, London market, Towergate
  • Stephen Carella, Business development account manager, Kwik-Fit Insurance Services
  • Victoria Goodwin, Account manager, Aon
  • Ila Hewitt, Account and senior claims handler, Thompson & Partners
  • Samantha James, Account executive, Eastwood & Partners
  • Noela Kenna, Commercial insurance account executive, Dickson & Co Insurances
  • Oliver Lawton, Insurance consultant, Shearwater Insurance Services
  • Christopher Milnes, Account executive, professional risks, Heath Lambert
  • Emily Soppet, Commercial account handler, Alexander Miller
  • Matthew Stringer, Managing director, Bloomhill Insurance Solutions
  • Matthew Stuttard, Account executive, Rockford Insurance Brokers (Swinton Commercial)
  • James Woollam, Director, Hayes Parsons Ltd

A word from John Kitson, Aviva:

‘Aviva was delighted to partner with Insurance Times on this new venture and, having seen it first hand, I think it’s got something really special and unique about it’

‘Hearing the IT Pack finalists present with passion and enthusiasm about what they've achieved was humbling. It showed the broking industry future is in good hands, and Aviva looks forward to being involved again in 2010’

A word from Tom Broughton, Insurance Times:

Despite fearing the worst, I have to admit that to be holed up for three hours with Sir Alan Sugar’s chief henchman was nothing other than a pleasure. I hope that Janice and John would agree that, after the initial feeling of being a little star-struck, to watch Nick Hewer contribute to the interview process of our 12 IT Pack regional finalists was truly fascinating.

We agreed the terms of engagement from the outset. It wasn’t to be a fierce cross-examination like in The Apprentice whereby Nick adopts a grumpy demeanour while the candidates squirm under pressure, or where over-the-top questions are launched punishingly during the final interviews.

But we had to select a winner and there had to be some scrutiny. In the end, it turned out to be a very difficult, close decision. Nick was quiet but did an excellent job of pinpointing a particular fact to be probed further or summing up expertly what our finalists had achieved both professionally and personally.

And the comedy was not lost either when Nick would pull one of his trademark perplexed looks during some of the interactions. But what came through loud and clear was the energy and excitement from the IT Pack finalists. Each and every one was passionate about their businesses, their careers, and most tellingly their clients and their role in the success of their business. It was heartening too to see Nick acknowledge this passion and dish out some firm words of praise and informed advice.

I would like to again thank Aviva for their support in the success of the IT Pack. And I look forward to seeing not only all of our IT Pack finalists at the Insurance Times Awards on 4 December for the unveiling of our winner, but to again see all of the many faces who participated in the success of our events around the country.