1 Year of Curing the Insurance Industry of Its Spreadsheet Addiction

Written at Nov 22, 2023 3:22:58 PM by Kathryn Ellis

A year building. A year of learning. A year of personal and professional development. 

This time last year I was setting foot in the Lloyd’s building for my first day working at distriBind.  I didn’t really know what to expect. The hiring process had been quite long (from initial conversations to securing funds – as a start-up, this was to be expected) so it was quite surreal to finally be starting.  It was also daunting to leave a comfortable job, where I had built my marketing career, and move to a start-up as Head of Communications – I didn’t even really know what that meant for me.  All I knew was that I was joining a founder on a journey of ideas, passion, and belief, and I was excited about that.   

I jumped in headfirst and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I have been living life in the fast lane and loving it.  I had just about got my foot in the door when we started planning for 2023.  Setting the strategy and formulating a solid plan.  I love this process of building something from the bottom up and working with people who share the same work ethic and drive.  I hadn’t realised I would feel so at home working for a start-up.  January to June were a blur of events and travel, presentations, and speaking opportunities, and they didn’t really stop there, they just slowed down a little.  Although I have worked in the Insurance Industry and InsurTech space for a while now, building media relationships in these spaces is something I have never had the need or opportunity to do.  Working with TINTech, InsTech, InsurTech Insight, FinTech Global, and Hartford Symposium have opened up doors for me and for distriBind that have added so much fun and joy to this past year.   

From throwing everything into ITI Europe, being on multiple stages in Hartford, and going to ITC Vegas with just two team members and no stand, we have had the opportunity this year to scope out events, find out what worked, what hasn’t, what we need more of and what we don’t.   It sounds so far like ‘communications’ is just event planning, but this process has been such a journey and I’m definitely still finding my feet.  On reflection of this year, and as I am writing, I realise there is actually so much to include, every day, every week, and every month has brought so much change for me. I have traveled with work (something I’ve never done before), and I have been to at least one event every month for the entire year, they range from low-key marketing breakfasts to evening InsTech events, to full-day sponsorship events and 3-day sponsorship events, to distriBind organised events and internal team events. I am so humbled to have this opportunity and I will never take this for granted.  I worked hard to get my degree and I work hard in everything that I do.  It’s not always easy or fun.  Management of people is something I have on my CV but until this year, not really in practice, and that in itself has been a rollercoaster of a ride.  But again, not one that I would change (Julie might though 😊).  Teaching, helping to develop, and day-to-day working with each other can be tough at times.  Learning how to be the educator, the enforcer, and the support is a unique set of skills that I am still trying to grasp. 

Amongst the strategizing and planning, the execution obviously also plays a huge part, and where in the past I have been able to rely on various teams of people to help write and provide information, in this role I have had to get to grips with the Insurance terminology, distriBind as a solution offering and the meaning behind the benefits that it provides.  It’s easy to stay surface level and regurgitate the benefits and what the system can do and for whom, but understanding what that actually means to the end user is a different level of understanding and to be honest, one I am only just really getting to grips with – maybe that’s a focus for the next year.   

The opportunities I have had with distriBind are very different from anything I have had in a working environment, I’ve even (unsuccessfully) pitched distriBind for funding.  But along the way I have learnt so much and I am still learning a great deal.  Long may it continue. I think I have had a part in every channel in the marketing tool kit this year; PR, events, social media, collateral, website rebranding, email marketing, advertising, stand design, and merchandise. 

Working for a start-up is a rollercoaster and it is never easy, we’ve had a tumultuous past 6 weeks, but we’re working hard and keeping our team spirit high. I’m confident the next 12 months will be as exciting and fruitful as the last. 

We’ve ended the year with; multiple shortlists for industry awards (some we haven’t won and some winners are still to be decided), a handful of new customers, renewed licences, a great vision for the future, and a team most companies can only dream of.  And I am secretly hopeful that the Insurance Times B2B Marketing Campaign of the Year shortlist will turn into a win, as it would definitely be a highlight of my career, and of my first year with distriBind. 

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Kathryn Ellis

Head of Communications

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