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Making things happen with data: my graduate job at Lloyd's

Robert’s found a passion for data at Lloyd’s and been inspired by just how much ‘you can achieve when you take data and look a bit deeper’.
Graduates can call on the expertise of a variety of different professionals.

After finishing university, I looked for a position in insurance because it seemed to be an area that had a lot of potential for useful innovation. Having done a technical degree, I felt that I would be able to contribute my insights to that change.

Lloyd's is a financial market in which insurance and reinsurance companies work together to trade and offset financial risks – in case they will need to pay out on a high number of claims simultaneously, for example. The organisation interested me because it would provide exposure to the market in general and I'd learn how different companies were doing things. When I discovered that Lloyd's graduate schemes were rotational, I was even more enthusiastic as I knew I'd find out about their different areas.

From IT to data

My experience on the Lloyd's graduate scheme showed me how flexible the organisation could be. When I discovered that IT wasn't the best route for me during my first rotation, I brought this up and suggested that I'd be more suited to working with data. Instead of responding negatively to this, everyone was supportive. My mentor put me in touch with the head of the data lab and helped me to secure a rotation there. In fact, Lloyd's has since created a data graduate scheme.

For my first rotation, I spent five months in IT security. After this, I worked with data architects in the data lab for six months. I spent the next six months working in catastrophe modelling for Hiscox, one of the managing agents that underwrites insurance through Lloyd's, before moving back to the data lab for the final half-year of the scheme.

Creating products using data

As a data product developer, I take the huge amounts of data that comes into Lloyd's and use it to produce interactive graphs and products. These allow business analysts to use the data to inform their business decisions. I make the visual representations using the tools made by data software company Qlik.

My week is currently split; I spend three days in the main team, working on a different project each month to develop a product that will support a particular team. For the other two days, I quantify feedback from the market on changes that have been made to the business, which contributes to improvements to the market.

When I'm creating data products for other teams, it's important that I manage expectations and my own time by explaining that I won't be able to complete their tasks straight away – that they need to fit into my schedule of work. I learned the confidence to do this when working at a ski chalet in France before university. That year the resort experienced the worst year of snow in 50 years and customers often asked me for things that I couldn't provide, such as specific meals. It definitely improved my assertiveness skills.

My mentor and support

Throughout my time working for them, I've seen that Lloyd's makes sure graduates have the support and knowledge they need to progress with them and in their career. I'm currently taking qualifications run by Qlik and Lloyd's has paid for me to do these.

The fact that Lloyd's has relationships with different insurance and reinsurance companies means graduates can call on the expertise of a variety of different professionals. This includes mentors; mine was the chief operating officer of an insurance broker. I had – and still have – an excellent relationship with my mentor; he gave advice on how to get the most out of each rotation and offered to continue supporting me after my graduate programme ended. And, of course, I wouldn't have gained my placement or my current job role at the data lab without the support of my mentor and Lloyd's.

Putting my football fixation to good use

My advice when starting out in your graduate role is to be prepared to learn as much as you can, and you might find it easier to do so when relating what you are learning to your personal hobbies and interests. For example, I love fantasy football and, during my final rotation, I wanted to gain a better understanding of one of the tools I was using – so I got to grips with it by inputting football results.

Being inspired by experts in data

In May, I travelled to Texas with other members of my team to accept the Qlik global transformation award. This was for using its software innovatively – especially for developing an interactive portal soon to be launched, through which people can access data. It was nice to feel that the work we're doing is making a difference and that this can be seen by people external to Lloyd's. Yet, the highlight for me was listening to the unbelievably knowledgeable data experts who spoke at the three-day event. These included a professional New York Times journalist who used data to reveal the concussion crisis in American football. These talks gave me inspiration for my future career and showed me what you can achieve when you take data and look that bit deeper.

Name: 
Robert Clarke
Job title: 
Data product developer

2010–2011 Worked as a chalet host and cook at a ski resort in France.
2013–2016 Studied for, and graduated with, a degree in computer science from Durham University.
2016 Joined the Lloyd’s graduate scheme as an IT graduate trainee.
2018 Became a data product developer for Lloyd’s.

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