Nestled in a converted mill in Halifax is one of the most exciting tech companies in the UK.
In 2020, Covéa was named the Best Place to Work in Digital (Large Organisation) at the Digital Technology Leaders Awards. It recognises businesses that create an environment where talent can grow and thrive – something Covéa really excels at. They’re on a mission to revolutionise the insurance industry and their people are their strength, so they give them the space and the autonomy to drive real change.
InsurTech is one of the most exciting sectors to work in right now
Today’s customers expect more. They want flexibility, they want 24-hour access, tailored services and innovative solutions that protect them from ever even needing to make a claim. This demand for more means the insurance industry is ripe for digital transformation and Covéa is leading the way. They’ve made digital transformation a priority, which means they have a rare opportunity to shape the future of the industry.
They’ve already done the groundwork by building their own end-to-end insurance service platform. Most companies use an off-the-shelf solution, but Covéa have built theirs from scratch. As a result, they’ll have complete freedom and the ability to deliver change, adapting to consumer and affiliate needs, fast. It opens up a world of possibilities – from automating the no claims process to changing the duration of cover and predicting the weather to warn customers about risks before they have an accident, it’s an insurance platform for the future.
“Because of the way that the insurance industry has worked for many, many years, we have a real opportunity to disrupt,” Josh Nesbitt, Head of Engineering at Covéa, explained. “This year is a really big year for us as we continue to work on our insurance service platform and anyone who joins Covéa will be a big part of that. We’re building Node and .NET back-ends, we’re building immersive product experiences on the front-end, using modern technologies like React, we’re solving some really interesting challenges.”
Disruptive engineering puts the power in the hands of the developers
This is a big company, in a regulated industry, and that would usually mean a lot of red tape, but Covéa cuts through it to give their engineering team the power to innovate and deliver products at speed. They’ve created a culture of disruptive engineering, empowering their employees to experiment, make decisions and drive the business forward. There’s no fear of mistakes at Covéa – this is uncharted territory, so every failure is an opportunity to learn.
Innovation doesn’t take a back seat here. They give people the time, space and autonomy to drive change, to test ideas and turn them into a reality. Projects like these usually take years, but Covéa pushes them through much faster, so you can build and roll out industry-leading solutions in record time. And because they’ve built everything from the ground up, the architecture is deliberately open, creating the opportunity for exciting collaborations with InsurTech start-ups.
“This is an organisation that really does want to innovate,” Lianne Potter, Information Security Transformation Manager at Covéa, explained. “It’s not all talk, they’re constantly striving to do better, so we have lots of freedom to try new things, which a lot of organisations say they do, but in reality, they don’t. I can come across something in a podcast or something I’ve read online, and say, ‘let’s try this’ and within an hour’s meeting, we’re putting it in practice and seeing what we can learn from it.”
Career progression is powered by continuous learning & development
At Covéa, you never stop learning. They have significant training budgets to help you progress within the business. Many of their employees are working towards external qualifications, including degrees and post-grads, but they also organise group training to fill gaps in their knowledge base. Even better, you control your own destiny because employees are encouraged to bring their own ideas to the table by identifying new opportunities to learn, develop and retool.
Within the business, they’ve created a culture of sharing that helps pass knowledge from one person to another. With technology changing all the time, there’s always something new to learn, so they use peer-to-peer mentorship, paired-programming and coaching to fast-track development. They also have a packed programme of events, including regular Lunch & Learn seminars and Espresso Sessions where you can get a quick introduction to new technologies and products. This, coupled with an individual approach that puts your career ambitions front and centre, means you can progress very quickly.
“People are the lifeblood of what we do, we can’t do anything without good people, so it’s paramount that they’re happy and have the opportunity to flourish,” Graeme Howard, Chief Technology & Information Officer at Covéa, explained. “As an individual, you can come in and be noticed, you can make a difference. It’s a team mentality, but as an individual, you can shine. You can come in, and in a few short months, be a rising star. It’s about your attitude and your aptitude to get stuff done – you don’t have to be here 10 years to progress.”
Diversity of thought is key to innovation and critical to their success
Insurance has a reputation as a pale, stale, male-dominated industry, but Covéa is working hard to change that. They pride themselves on giving everyone an equal opportunity, regardless of race, gender, age or sexuality, and run an extensive programme of diversity and inclusion activities, driven by their people and their passions. Anyone can get involved, which means everyone is represented, and if they’re not, you can step in to plug the gap.
Covéa is on a really good journey, in fact, they just won the Diversity Award at the British Insurance Awards, but they’re always looking for ways to be better. After all, the diversity of their workforce is one of their biggest strengths. Different people have different approaches, they come up with different ideas and find different solutions – which is exactly what you need if you want to push the envelope.
“Diversity is an issue in technology,” Josh explained. “We have to look at the way we hire in an unbiased way, we need to ensure that from job descriptions to the way we interview, it’s always inclusive. We absolutely need to support the industry on pushing things forward. It is a white, male-dominated industry and we have to recognise that and make Covéa as inclusive and diverse as possible.”