Category: Insight | Date: 16/12/2022

How Xenia maintains its culture as it expands: a Q&A with business development executive Joe Nelson

In this month’s edition of Xenia’s Coffee Cup Corner series, we hear from business development executive Joe Nelson, who is based in our Halifax office, about the social side of working in the new business team, carrying around his big red file and being a Swiftie.

How long have you worked at Xenia?
I’ve been here for eight years, originally as part of CRS in Halifax.

What this role means:
I work on the new business side, dealing with enquiries and putting structures together for prospective clients working with insurers to find the best overall coverage of a client’s ledger.

Why do you like working for Xenia?
The culture. We’re a big business now but it still operates like lots of small ones. It’s a “work hard, play hard” type of workplace and I can genuinely say many of the people in the office are my friends as well as colleagues.

A piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Engineering is not for you! That was my first job as an apprentice for four years and it was very obviously not for me - I just didn’t know what else to do.

What's your most commonly asked question in your job role and how would you answer it?
“How much will it cost?” is probably the most common, and although we can give a guide, it really depends on how much information we are provided. We try to gather as much information as possible to ensure quotes are as accurate, and as good value, as possible.

How did you get into the insurance sector?
I was simply looking for a sales job, following two years in timeshare and two more in advertising. I knew I liked sales, but didn’t know where to go where it wasn’t all just about how much commission you earned. I thought credit insurance was a short-term loan when I applied for the job!

What do you do at Xenia and what does your typical day look like?
I work on the new business development team, and there’s no such thing as a typical day. I might be visiting a prospect to gather information, or on the road heading to present terms to a potential new client. I could be seeing an introducer for a coffee, or networking to find new ones.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The social side is great, I’m always meeting someone somewhere whether it’s prospects, introducers, or insurers. Going to prospect meetings is the best part, you never know what sort of business you might be seeing. One week it’s a contractor in construction, the next it might be a clothing manufacturer, then a butcher or a recruitment firm! There’s always variety.

What's the strangest / funniest / most memorable thing you’ve had to do in your current role?
When I first started, myself and a colleague (Lil) went to London for training. We ended up getting very drunk afterwards and missed the train home. I got in at 5am and had to get back into the office for 9am. I made it!

How has the job changed since you started your career?
While the day-to-day is mostly the same, most people now work “paperless”... but I still like to have a big red file with me in case I need it. Working from home is probably the biggest change for the whole sector, but I prefer the office banter than being at home in my pyjamas.

Where do you see Xenia going over the next few years?
The business is very ambitious and no doubt it will continue to grow. Underwriters have definitely taken notice of our size and this can only be a good thing for us in the new business side.

Tell us something most people don't know about you?
Although I don’t listen to a lot of music, I’m a massive Taylor Swift fan. I think she’s brilliant.

What job would you be doing if you weren't doing this one?
It’s hard to imagine not ending up in a sales role of some sort. I would’ve tried my hand at car sales as I do have a bit of petrolhead in me, though I don’t like the idea of working weekends!

What would you say to a young person who wants to get into insurance?
I can’t imagine there are many! But our industry is really varied and many of my friends and family are amazed at the amount of networking, meals, and events I go to. If you’re a social person, it’s a great industry to be in.

Who's your greatest hero or heroine and why?
Outside of my parents, I’d say Steven Gerrard is my biggest hero. He gave every ounce for Liverpool every game he played for us and I loved his determination, talent and his loyalty to the club. He's one of a kind.

What do you do to relax?
I’m a gamer at heart and the majority of my spare time is spent playing the latest Xbox/PlayStation release.

To find out more about the people behind Xenia, head over to last month's Coffee Cup Corner edition with our colleague David Price.