“It is fascinating to see first hand the direction that the energy industry is taking.”

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Nicholas Smith, Willis

Insurance broker, Willis

After completing his BA in Geography at Exeter, Nicholas Smith felt undecided about what career path to pursue.

I decided to stay on and do the International Management Msc at the Business School. I hadn’t studied business before, so it enabled me to understand different disciplines, such as Accounting, Marketing and Strategy. I was also able to get an alumni grant to cover 40% of the cost. But above all, that extra year helped me make my mind up about what sector to go into.

I had studied natural hazards and disasters and their impact, on my Geography course, and my Msc studies had given me a good insight into general insurance. So I thought insurance would be an interesting area to work in.

I started working as an insurance broker for Willis in September 2010. I’m an Account Handler in their upstream oil and gas division. We work with oil and gas companies of varying sizes all over the globe, and I predominantly work with clients in Asia and Africa. Essentially our job is to develop bespoke Insurance and Reinsurance packages for Energy clients. We do that by assessing factors such as the specifications and values of their assets, as well as calculating risk factors and also determining what type of coverage and also what level coverage is applicable for the clients operations.

It is fascinating to see first hand the direction that the energy industry is taking as it is one of the world’s most important and industries. I enjoy being involved in oil and gas projects, and meeting and negotiating with client representatives and risk managers.

I have already had some good opportunities. I am currently studying towards my ACII as part of the Chartered Insurance Institute, which I hope to complete and further my industry knowledge.

I also have had the chance to go and work in the Willis Singapore office. I have spent a week working out there, which has been a fantastic opportunity. There are lots of international opportunities here as Willis is the third largest insurance broker globally, with over 400 offices in over 100 countries.

Insurance is very competitive. I’d say if you want to stand out in interviews, you need to do more than just study. I got involved in the Exeter Award, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It enabled me to go to a lot of seminars organised specifically for students of the Business School. I also went to talks from alumni who have gone on to work in banking, management consultancy, accountancy and other careers in finance. Although these weren’t compulsory, they really helped put my study in perspective and gain a greater understanding of the world of work.