A question of support

It is difficult balancing the needs of home and family life with a successful career, but with the right support from a great business I have found that I have luckily been able to

My ambition was to progress to claims manager, which I started to work towards after I got married in 2004. However, I always had at the back of my mind the idea of starting a family as well. I decided that I could still do both and was very driven to get there with the help and support of my managers and was over the moon when I was promoted to third-party claims manager in 2007 while five months pregnant.

It was difficult to an extent, being newly promoted knowing that I was leaving in a couple of months’ time for my maternity leave. However, I planned ahead for the nine months I anticipated being off and focused on the things I still wanted my team to achieve before I came back to work. This and the support from the team meant that I could enjoy being off with my new baby girl and also look forward to coming back into my ‘new role’.

I had decided that to enable me to get a balance of work and home life I would reduce my hours and work four slightly longer working days, which was fully supported by my manager, and this left me with the right balance to still push on and progress at work and have time with my family.

In 2009 I had my baby boy, taking maternity leave this time for 12 months but was again lucky to be able to leave my department in safe and trusted hands. Again, I decided to come back and work four days.

When coming back the second time, I had started to talk to my manager about other opportunities. Together, we worked on some options, one of which was for me to move to our policyholder claims area in motor, to work on a culture change programme with the aim of making the claims function more customer-centric.

After thinking about the options, I decided to go with the move – it was something new that I could get my teeth into, put my own stamp on and it provided me with further opportunities for progression, so it ticked every box.

It was hard working the four days as, effectively, you are still doing a full-time role in one less day, so there were times when it was difficult; I worked late on Thursday evenings or occasionally on the Friday from home or over the weekend if something important came up. It is also difficult at times when things like important meetings happened on your non-workings days. Sometimes I could get family to support a switch of days and also resorted to last-minute nursery. After doing this a few times, I realised how important time at home with my young family was, and that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I wasn’t at every meeting. At this point, I made a conscious decision to only come in if there was no other option, and the rest of the time ensured that I got update notes or asked the team to move meetings so I could attend. This worked a lot better for me and my family in the long run.

I was promoted to senior claims manager in 2013 and I have seen a transformation, in both my department and across the company, from the customer experience programme that I lead, which has achieved recognition from industry awards and the ICS ServiceMark Accreditation. I went back to full-time work when my son went to school, although I still work school hours at least one day a week to be able to both take to and collect from school. Covéa Insurance has also been great with flexible hours, particularly when my son was diagnosed with diabetes in 2014.

It is difficult balancing the needs of home and family life with a successful career, but with the right support from a great business I have found that I have luckily been able to.

 

Vicki Heslop – senior manager, policyholder claims

  • Joined Covéa Insurance (then Provident Insurance) straight after A-levels, joining the motor claims team on their training programme
  • Chose to pursue management development and progression rather than a technical role
  • Progressed to team manager while obtaining Diploma in Insurance