Grahame Chilton, CEO of Gallagher UK
12 March 2015 Insurance

60 seconds with Grahame Chilton

Grahame Chilton, the recently appointed chief executive officer of Arthur J Gallagher International*, talks to Intelligent Insurer about stepping up to the role, rebellion and fast cars.

Why is this move right for you at this stage in your career?

Since we launched Capsicum Re together in December 2013, I’ve built a strong relationship with Pat and Tom Gallagher and great regard for this business, so when they asked me to come and lead the international operations I didn’t hesitate.  When your partner is in need you step up, but I also felt I could provide what the business needed: stability and strong leadership

What will you bring to the role?

Open leadership, direction, engagement.

I’ll never pretend the hard work is done by me; my job is to make sure our leadership teams have what they need to drive forward their businesses and deliver growth from a stable platform.

But I also bring diverse insurance experience from reinsurance to retail; a background in integrating big businesses to positive effect; and an entrepreneurial style that puts empowerment and quick decision-making at the heart of any business I lead.

What are your initial objectives in the new role?

Determining what we have as a business and how it should be led, with the right structure and right people. We also need to bring clarity over leadership lines and clarity over what is expected of people, so every team member knows what their role is and what will happen when they perform well.

Stripping back red tape is another thing that’s high on the list. We have some fantastically talented people in this business, across wholesale broking, retail broking, underwriting and central services — and they need to be empowered to make decisions and trusted to run their businesses.

What will be your biggest challenge in the new role?

To make this business still feel like a local business while harnessing the full power of Gallagher behind it. Insurance is about relationships, and my strength lies in understanding people and what makes them tick. So my challenge here is to ensure everyone feels a part of this team — while we continue to grow organically and through acquisition — which will ensure they focus on delivering that same personal, relationship-based experience to our clients and customers. And I won’t give up until we achieve that.

Why did you choose to work in this industry initially?

If I’m honest, primarily because someone told me I shouldn’t work in it — and I’ve always been a bit of a rebel without a 'pause'. But three interviews later, I found myself working as a policy clerk in the UK retail cargo division of CT Bowring at the age of 18 with a world of potential and possibilities in front of me.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

From the beginning I was so determined to prove I could do a good job and make insurance a success, that I never really considered any alternatives.

What are you doing when you are not at work?

Probably indulging in one of my three passions — family, motorsport and entrepreneurial ventures.

I also have the privilege of being chairman of the Tick Tock Club at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which brings together individuals, trusts, foundations and companies who are passionate about children’s healthcare, and I’m immensely proud that in only one year we have managed to raise £5 million towards the £10 million needed to create a vital new surgery centre. GOSH — its pioneering treatments, people and brave young patients — is an inspiration to us all.

What is your secret vice?

Fast cars: always my vice, rarely a secret one.

*Chilton’s role will take full effect once all necessary regulatory approvals are in place.

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