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It’s not just what you know… This Australian expat has spent most of his insurance career overseas

Dylan Bryant, Lloyd’s General Representative and Country Manager, Hong Kong DYLAN BRYANT’S CAREER IS TESTIMONY to many of the values that successful insurance managers carry with them: professionalism, a willingness to adapt to new circumstances and a talent for networking. Since April last year he has been Lloyd’s General Representative in Hong Kong, responsible for a crucial market. Not bad for a man who 15 years ago was working for Zurich in a Sydney call centre. Born in the national capital and raised in the New South Wales seaside town of Port Stephens, he describes starting an insurance career as “something you had to find out by accident”. The call centre job was a part-time gig that helped pay his way while he studied for a commerce degree at the Australian National University. He remembers the call centre as a great place to learn the value of total customer service, where going the extra yard for a customer adds to the individual’s job satisfaction. “The Zurich office was 300 metres from the apartment, so it was a great job for me, and I learned plenty,” he says. He believes his insurance grounding in that call centre was crucial to the successful international career that followed – a career that has seen him work in many places, but never his homeland. “I think something’s being lost as call

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centres fade away,” he tells Insurance News. “It’s an ideal training ground, and something we should have used more.” On graduation he decided he wanted to work overseas and – if he could – stay in insurance. So why not start at the top? He’d been given the email address of a contact in London who just happened to be the head of Zurich’s capital markets business. The phone interview that followed was positive, so at the age of 23 Dylan found himself working as an underwriter in Zurich’s Corporate Solutions Group in London. Armed with a three-year visa (the acquisition of which is a story in itself) he was immediately immersed in a team working alongside experienced specialist underwriters. “It laid the foundation of my career,” he says. “I learned from some great people, and without them I’d never have got past square one.” Within a couple of years his international career as an underwriter was about to get another boost. Dylan emphasises the important role networking plays in any corporate environment, and he has a perfect example: just over two years after starting work in London, colleagues in Zurich’s New York office were looking for a senior underwriter to add to their team. They remembered the smart and friendly Australian they’d met at various company events and gave him a call. That led to five fruitful and fun-filled

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June/July 2015

years in the US market – four and a half of them in New York and three months in Chicago. He worked as an alternative risk underwriter – a highly specialized role he describes as requiring “generalist experience applied to specific needs”. “I’d advise anyone wanting to succeed in underwriting to specialise,” he says. “There’s not a lot of luck involved in any of this. You have to build your skillset and keep honing it.” The US experience was followed by a move to Asia. “It was late 2008, AIG was teetering on the brink, the US economy was tanking and a colleague from my London days invited me to move to Hong Kong. “Winter was approaching in North America – moving was an easy decision.” The Hong Kong posting as regional business manager, Asia-Pacific allowed Dylan to build on his experience in structuring solutions for large corporates while adding relationship management and business development responsibilities. He obviously did it well, because three years later he became Zurich’s regional head of international, handling all aspects of customer relationships, distribution and marketing in the Asia-Pacific region. In April last year, some five years after arriving in Hong Kong, Dylan left Zurich to join Lloyd’s as its Hong Kong General Representative. He’s one of a number of old Zurich hands in senior roles at the London-based market, including Chief

Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

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