Underwriting progress: a work-life balance interview with Lloyd East

"Our industry embraces such a wide range of skills. At our best, we harness expertise from so many disciplines. I love the variety and the range of people that I work with."

How did you get into insurance?

With a name like mine, did I have a choice? I actually spent around 10 years in banking before the AA gave me the opportunity to work in insurance.

When are you at your happiest?

I like the familiar but I love breaking new ground. I guess that’s why I moved from UK and US banks to private equity to a start-up to a global insurer, and ultimately, to the Middle East. When I first met my wife she would only live on one page of the London A-Z (page 93). How times have changed for both of us!

What are you working on at the moment?

Landing the first big wave of investment in the Middle East to build a best in class insurer. We are working on the same thing that the rest of the Group: core system changes, digital, pricing, claims and efficiency. All localised for our markets. We have 11 major IT drops this year! It’s great to have the ability to invest at pace in our business.

What skill would you love to learn?

Like many people, music would be a wish but I know my limits.

What’s surprised you the most about working in the insurance industry?

This is often a tough sell to my kids, but I feel that our industry embraces such a wide range of skills. At our best, we harness expertise from so many disciplines. I love the variety and the range of people that I work with.

What’s your go-to dinner party recipe?

It’s probably a personality give-away but I have a group of friends in which our rule is to cook three courses that you've never cooked before. It usually results in one inedible disaster, another tolerable dish and one unexpected triumph. My team would recognise that...

What industry change would you like to see in the next three years?

I’m competitive by nature so I’d like to see RSA recognised externally as truly best in class. We’ve some way to go but I believe it’s the right ambition.

What would be the title of a film about your life?

Premium Rush. (Although growing has been tough lately in the Middle East).

How is insurance making the world a better place?

The line that always come to mind for me first is: we underwrite progress. When you're a leading insurer in one of our countries, you see everyday the major assets that we insure and the progress we facilitate. And because we are RSA, when a claim comes, we just do the right thing and support our clients. That knowledge always gives me a warm glow.

What are you currently binge-watching/listening/reading?

I don’t read as much as I used to and earlier this month picked up an old classic Stoner, by John Williams. I finished it in a few days and it reminded me how much reading centres you. I’m pleased to be back in the habit.