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Case Study: Shan

Personal details
Degree:Joint Honours in Spanish and French (WIYA) Profile picture
School(s): School of Modern Languages
Year of Graduation:Jun-2007
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: DIOT (Insurance Broker-Paris, France)
Job title: Account Coordinator, Large Accounts Division
Occupational Sector: Insurance
What has been your route to getting your current position?
Over Easter 2007 I did a week’s work experience at Lockton UK, a broking house in London. I spoke to their International Department about the possibility of working for an Insurance broker in France and they kindly put me in touch with DIOT, their French counterpart.

I sent a copy of my CV and a covering letter to DIOT.

I was invited to a casual first round meeting where I was interviewed by the heads of HR and the International Department. I was not told which position I was interviewing for, so it was rather difficult to prepare! It was very much an opportunity for both parties to get to know one another.

A few weeks later, I was asked back for a second interview with the head of the Large Accounts Division, who explained the position they were looking to fill and the responsibilities it entailed. His main worry was that I was too young and inexperienced for the position, and that I would not be able to adapt fast enough. All I can say is I remained calm and confident throughout the whole interview process and tried to prove that I was a strong candidate for the job.

The job interview process did not involve any assessment centre or psychometric tests.

What does your job involve ?
The first few months where extremely difficult and overwhelming as I had no previous experience in insurance. I found myself having to do a lot of studying out of work hours to gain a general understanding of the sector. It took a good 6 months until I felt “comfortable” working both in the insurance market and in French!

From day one I have been working on their large international accounts, mainly those with a strong presence in Latin America and Europe. On a daily basis I am in contact with our worldwide broking network and have become accustomed to switching from Spanish to English and back again to French! I have worked on a few large projects including tenders and presented at an International Brokers’ Conference in Paris.

We work on a flexi-hour system that allows the employees to badge in and out. I tend to arrive at work just before 9am and leave by 6:30 pm.

It has to be said that the after-work social life that is so common in the UK, is pretty much non-existent in France. It took me a while to become close to people in difference departments at work (around 500 employees in total), and sometimes we go for a drink after work. However on the whole, it is not that common in Paris.

Day in the Life

*07h50 Get up
  • 08h40 Take the metro to work
  • 08h55 Arrive at office
  • 09h00 Coffee with team
  • 09h15 Go through emails
  • 10h00 Meeting concerning latest project proposal for ACCOR Argentina.
  • 11h30 Reply to emails & chase up any outstanding issues
  • 12h30 Lunch
  • 14h00 Work on project with International Team
  • 16h00 Call our contact in Argentina to clarify certain aspects of proposal
  • 16h30 Meeting with our internal tech
What are the best bits of your job ?
Why were you successful?
My current boss recently told me that I was successful because I had shown him I was eager to learn and was not scared to take on a challenge. Furthermore, they were looking for someone with experience working abroad, who would be able to integrate themselves easily into the team. Having spent a year working in Venezuela and various summers working in France, I had the international profile they were looking for.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?