Marc Walden-Lowe, Director of Cost & Value tells us about his role and how reducing costs and working with suppliers has contributed to Hastings Direct success.
I work within the Chief Operating Officer function and oversee Procurement & Supplier Management alongside a somewhat broader agenda around our cost strategy working closely with the Chief Operating Officer and other leaders in the business. Primarily the team focuses on three core areas, procurement; optimisation of the relationships with and performance of our supplier partners; and a broader remit to look at the strategic management of cost and opportunity to drive value in the business. Recently we’ve focused on reducing the operating costs of the business by rationalising where we use printed documents vs digital communications that most customers now want – we’ve worked with our suppliers to explore the options and this feeds into a much broader piece of work focusing on how we do things internally too.
We’ve also been working with leaders across the business in our operations, IT, marketing and claims departments to ensure we have the right suppliers for the scale of our organisation. We also look at the quality of offering we want to give to customers, tendering where we need to for new partners and working with our existing partners to build out relationships that deliver real value for all parties. In reality I really encourage the team to look and think beyond our defined remit. If you’re in a position in a business to see how it operates, as procurement and supplier management teams are uniquely well positioned to do this, you can influence and drive positive change. Even if it’s a bit of stretch outside your normal areas of responsibility I think it’s really great to do that. We’re all pulling in the same direction at Hastings, and you should never assume that someone else will seize on your idea and make it happen, you should just get on and help make it happen yourself!
We’re building out our category expertise in procurement so that we can offer a more proactive and expert partnership offering to our business leaders. By bringing negotiating expertise, a smoother supplier contracting and on boarding process, and a broader range of expertise around the suppliers and operating models available, we can thrive in the markets we’re working in.
In short we look to save money, avoid risk and build better partnerships with suppliers that benefit customers and the business. We also work within our specialist categories to provide opportunities and solutions that the business haven’t thought of yet!
I’ve been at Hastings for over eight years, and genuinely not a day has gone by that I haven’t been excited to see what happens next. I’ve been very fortunate to be part of the amazing growth journey the company has been on, which has also helped me progress my career. I’ve seen the company transform from a small to mid-sized insurer to a FTSE 250 company whilst keeping the way its people work together at its core, which really energises me, and having a level of ambition that remains undiminished as it grows.
Looking ahead, I’m excited by the ambitious and transformational strategic plans set out by Toby, our CEO and the whole of the leadership team at Hastings Direct. This will require all of us to be our best selves to implement and this keeps me motivated. I want to be working every day amongst other people who are pushing hard in the same direction, supporting and challenging one another in a really positive way and who believe that we can still make a difference individually to the business.
Our team has a big part to play in finding the right partners to support the transformation, and in challenging us as leaders to make the right decisions for the long term. We’ll need to keep looking for new opportunities to be efficient so that we can always offer the best price to our customers, and work with our partners to innovate and learn about new technologies as the insurance industry grows and develops.
First and foremost, they are a really great group of people! I believe that a great team attracts the right people and they tend to be motivated to develop with the company, and that’s what we want to do here. We are building a procurement capability that we believe provides the opportunity to lead, to drive real business change and to be part of the next phase of Hastings growth journey. That means we want a team who are motivated and who have really great expertise and capabilities. It’s a really positive and forward focused environment to be in, plus I really believe in developing people, providing them opportunities across the business to progress their careers, and I take their development and career progression on as a personal objective, I think it’s important people believe the business feels as invested in them as they feel in the business.
And there is a lot of opportunity to make a difference, we are not a greenfield procurement environment, but we certainly have plenty of room to improve. We’re embarking on some really big and interesting projects over the next year or two that I’m excited about. I really hope anyone reading this who thinks they have something to offer to the company takes the time to apply for a role in a business who’s people are full of energy, drive and ability. Hastings just seems to attract the right sort of people. Perhaps it’s the sea air.
If you would like to find out more about the opportunities in our Cost and Value team, click here