Insurance Post

Penny Speed meets... Elke Vagendene, AGCS head of product Development Financial Lines


Being an insatiable socialite, Penny Black is always eager to probe the personalities behind the professional veneer of her industry friends. What better way to squeeze in and share as many intimate revelations as possible than her very own ‘speed meeting’ column? This week, it’s the turn of AGCS' Elke Vagendene.

What was your first ever job - and were you any good at it?
I worked in a petrol station as a student. All I remember is it was all cash and we had to count the money at the end of the day. I was impressed by the amount of money that used to flow into such a small business 

If an MP3 player could only hold three tunes, what would you select for the ultimate soundtrack to your life?
Prelude to Act 1, from La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi; One by U2; and Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis

Who was your top teenage pin-up?
Tom Cruise, from his Top Gun years

My colleagues won’t know this about me but...

I grew up on a farm and I know how to kill chickens

Favourite book of all time?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t burn bridges. You meet a lot of people but you will always meet them again

What would be your chosen superpower?
I’d be a vampire for a day and have super senses

If you could be Prime Minister for the day, what change would you instigate and why?
Introduce ID cards for Britain. It would just make life much easier

My top tip for climbing the insurance career ladder is...
Work hard and get connected with people. Networking is very important, as insurance is still a people business

What’s the most annoying thing people do in your office?
Eat smelly food at their desk over lunch

My last supper would comprise...
Spaghetti vongole, with a glass of decent Sancerre, and good Belgian chocolate for dessert

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
I have been fortunate to have worked for some very bright people who all have influenced me, but I guess my husband is the one who has the most influence

When I’m not working I like to...
Spend time in the countryside with my family

Last film you saw?
I am not a huge fan of cinemas. I’d rather stay at home and watch a good series on TV – I love Homeland

If I wasn’t working in insurance I would probably be...
A police detective, solving cases of serious crime

Name your five ideal dinner party guests (dead or alive) noting what they bring to the party
Jennifer Saunders to make everyone laugh; James Cordon – together with Jennifer this has to be a guaranteed fun night; Lady Gaga, just to see what happens and what she wears; Samantha Cameron – She has excellent taste; and Robert Pattinson – every party needs eye candy

What do you say when strangers at a social gathering ask what you do for a living? I’m as vague as possible. I tell them I work in London in an office in the City

If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
Return to the height of the Roman Empire

Finish this sentence: Insurance is a great industry to work in because...
It is still a people industry. If you work hard you can still do very well

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