Penny Speed meets... Colin Hawes, director, Absolute Partnership


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 Absolute Partnership’s Colin Hawes.

What was your first ever job — and were you any good at it? An assistant/walker at a kennels. I never got bitten, so the dogs seemed to rate me

If an MP3 player could only hold three tunes, what would you select for the ultimate soundtrack to your life? Superstition by Stevie Wonder; You Got the Love by The Source & Candi Staton; and Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys 

Who was your top teenage pin-up?
Officially, Susan Dey of the Partridge Family. Unofficially, Fiona Richmond

My colleagues won’t know this about me but... I was once described in the rugby sports pages of the East Anglian newspaper as “the pacey Colin Hawes”. I took plenty of stick for that at the time, with several variations

Favourite book of all time? Barrow’s Boys by Fergus Fleming

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? On being offered a claims inspector role with Guardian Royal Exchange aged 22 and living in Ipswich: “You might be a bit young and pretty for east London.” I didn’t take it.

What would be your chosen superpower? Mind-reading, to instantly spot liars. Would make a great new product for Absolute

My top tip for climbing the insurance career ladder is... Make your own luck. Be in the right place at the right time, graft and mix with a little sycophancy when absolutely necessary

What’s the most annoying thing people do in your office? Take dress-down Friday to new levels 

My last supper would comprise... Grey Goose vodka & tonic; Jamie Oliver’s five-hour lamb, a good cheese board and Harvey’s best bitter

Who has been the most influential person in your life? My girls, and now the grandchildren. I might not have bothered so much otherwise

When I’m not working I like to... Run, though I’m less pacey now 

Last film you saw? Despicable Me 2 (with my grandson – brilliant) 

If I wasn’t working in insurance I would probably be... Watching daytime TV

Name your five ideal dinner party guests (dead or alive) noting what they bring to the party Micky Flanagan – totally outrageous but the funniest around; Caitlin Moran – funny, opinionated and so sharp; Sir Bobby Robson – Ipswich Town’s finest and a great football raconteur; Sue McCall (Aspen Risk Management) – a great friend who would take up where Micky and Caitlin leave off; and Nigella Lawson – always a favourite, and looks like she needs cheering up after the past few weeks. This lot could do it

What do you say when strangers at a social gathering ask what you do for a living? Say I work in the law. Technically true and so much easier 

If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Alkmaar, Holland on evening of 20 May 1981. I missed the away leg of Ipswich winning the UEFA cup and, as we’ve done nothing since, regret it even now

Finish this sentence: Insurance is a great industry to work in because... 36 years on, I’m still having fun

This article was published in the 9 January issue of Post magazine 

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