Building something special from scratch – with Justin Gress, COO Insurance, Vantage Risk Companies

“Covid was the first time I was home every single day. I had time to think about what I wanted to do and what made me happy”, says Justin.

Justin shares his career journey from Kemper Scholar to starting off his insurance career with General Electric, through the likes of KPMG, CNA Insurance, XL Catlin and AXA and what attracted him to joining the Vantage team in 2021.

“I thought what really would appeal to me is maybe a start-up, something a little different than a legacy carrier. Vantage came about and it was just at the perfect time.”

Talking through his transition in to senior leadership positions and the C-suite, Justin explains how it was his time at XL where doors opened and his confidence grew.    

“I was regularly working on operational planning and there was a desire with senior leadership, to expose other business units, other countries to that to that form of strategic planning.

It really gave me an opportunity to spread my wings and develop a reputation.  I found that doors started to open.”

Charting his biggest achievement as his time at Vantage to date, Justin explains how the last 18 months at Vantage is what he’s most proud of.

“It’s all because of our team. We’re building something unique and special. It’s set us off on a journey as a team, an even more important accomplishment versus something I could name as an individual.”

Justin shares his reaction to being overlooked and how Vantage is adopting technology and digital to exceed its clients’ expectations.  

“We’ve invested heavily in data analytics. All of our data is flowing into one spot and we’re able to access it and use it.

When it comes to to working with customers and brokers that’s really powerful because we’re able to get to very accurate timely information.”  

Vantage is also building out their own IT systems, which is impacting talent attraction, allowing underwriters and those working in claims to contribute to how they’re going to work in the future.

Justin shares his views on the challenges ahead for the business and sector and highlights the opportunities for high performers as well as the skills Vantage demands from aspiring leaders and their approach to talent attraction.

“There’s a lot of competition for talent. We have to be out there all the time with our name in the marketplace. It’s just super important that our people are out there, whether it be from a market or a talent perspective sharing who Vantage is and what we’re all about.”

Justin concludes with advice to any executives considering a career move.

“Take some time and look around and figure out what you want to do. Really think about what makes you happy, what you want to do long term.”

Connect with Justin on LinkedIn or find out more about Vantage Risk Companies.

The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO, Insurance Search, the Executive Search Consultancy for growing Insurance and Insurtech businesses across the globe.

To discuss identifying & attracting the very best talent to your team or being a podcast guest, reach out to Nick via nick.hoadley@insurance-search.com or connect on LinkedIn

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