I've worked at RSA for 52 years: a work-life balance interview with Phil Bell

In our latest work-life balance interview we spoke to our longest serving employee about why he chose insurance, his curry of choice and who would play him in the movie of his life. (We agree Alan Rickman would have made a great Underwriter!)

What has surprised you most about lockdown?

The ease with which we have transitioned from an office-based organisation to a home based one.

What was your last Google search?

Akademik Lomonosov (a risk we are being asked to insure) – go on, check it out!

How did you get into insurance?

It was not an ambition since childhood, it was a suggestion from a careers teacher at school and as I had no better ideas. I replied to a newspaper advert for a junior underwriting clerk at Sun Alliance, Derby Branch and here I am.

What have you learned about yourself in this time?

How important my friends are to me and how much I hate commuting!

What, from this time, would like to keep in the new normal?

I think we should be looking as much on what we should retain from the old normal. Working from home so much can damage or break team spirit, learning from others and friendships.

What is your best travel memory?

I was lucky enough to win a Platinum Award a few years ago which took me on holiday with RSA colleagues. We went to Argentina and Chile, including a visit to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world and went on cruise through the Magellan Straits.

What did not expect about working in the insurance industry?

The degree of interest and variety and the extent of opportunities there are to learn, grow and develop.

What change would you like to see in the insurance industry in the next 3 years?

A concerted effort to rebuild and restore the technical capabilities within the industry underwriting communities and to restore their value to industry leaders.

I’m at my happiest when…

I’m backing winners at the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival each March.

What new skill would you most like to learn?

How to use a laptop! I’m sure the one I have is capable of far more but how do you find out?

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Alan Rickman.

What would you say to someone considering a career in insurance?

Try it, there are many opportunities and many different areas to learn about. I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of my time and have learnt an enormous amount about things I would never have dreamt I would know about.

What would be your ideal dinner party menu?

King Prawn Jalfrezi, Pilau Rice and Aloo Gobi. Am I cooking it myself? Who knows!

How is insurance making the world a better place?

We protect people, their loved ones and their possessions. We also protect businesses and enable every single customer to overcome adversity, to grow and develop and support innovation.

Career highlight to date is?

My proudest moment was presenting to a Public Hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on behalf of all the insurers in Europe, it showed a huge amount of trust in me by so many. We were also successful in lobbying for our position so a good outcome.

What is your happiest memory at RSA?

Difficult to identify one, an early one was the day my salary went above £1,000 a year! Meeting so many great and lovely people!

What are your three top tips for maintaining a healthy work life balance?

  • Your family and friends are entitled to some of your time and attention
  • Your hobbies and pastimes help you to relax
  • There is always someone worse off than you are, give them some help