Penny Speed Meets... Graham Dickinson, executive partner, DWF

Graham Dickinson DWF

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 the DWF’s Graham Dickinson.

What was your first ever job — and were you any good at it?
I was a cabbage chopper in a coleslaw factory in the East End. Was I any good? Well, I still have my fingers and thumbs and, bearing in mind I was a goalkeeper, it was an early lesson in risk management

If an MP3 player really could only hold three tunes, what would you select for the ultimate soundtrack to your life?
My kids tell me I have zero taste and knowledge of music. They are correct. Whatever they think, give me Bob Marley and UB40 anytime, with a bit of Sinatra over dinner

Who was your top teenage pin-up?
The 1966 England World Cup team

My colleagues won’t know this about me but...
I signed for Fulham as reserve team goalkeeper the season they lost to West Ham in the FA Cup Final. I broke my foot a week later and never kicked a ball for them

Favourite book of all time?
I am an avid reader of histories and biographies. Putting the two together, it has to be Roy Jenkins’ eloquent biography Churchill

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When I was 15 I worked for a solicitor in my school holidays. I assumed he knew everything, but the best advice he gave me was: “You may not know the answer, but at least know where to look it up.”

What would be your chosen superpower?
Time travel, to see history in action and, on the way back, revisit the cases I lost

If you could be Prime Minister for the day, what change would you instigate and why?
A change of attitude rather than policy. Recognise the tremendous benefits the insurance industry brings to the UK, not just economically but as an innovative and creative talent sector. It is an industry to be proud of in these difficult times. Let’s not be quite so reluctant to say so

How would a typical school report about you read?
If Graham put as much time and energy into his work as his football, he might have a promising career

My top tip for climbing the insurance career ladder is...
Whatever your job, act fairly and honestly and never denigrate colleagues or others. The industry carousel has a habit of coming full circle and bringing people back into contact

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
That’s easy, Mum and Dad

Name your five ideal dinner party guests (dead or alive) noting what they bring to the party
My wife, Claire, our three-month-old son Alex, and my three grown-up children. They all invigorate me with talk of their ambitions and achievements. What more entertaining dinner company could a dad ask for?  

Marmite: foods of the gods or work of the devil?
Devil food – I refuse to take the lid off the jar

What do you say when strangers at a social gathering ask what you do for a living? 
“Hi, I’m a lawyer.” They usually move swiftly on

If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
Blackburn 1918, to watch my grandfather come home after four years in the trenches

Finish this sentence: Insurance is a great industry to work in because...
What we do, sometimes unseen and unknown, makes a difference

Would you like to be probed by Penny on one of her speed meets? Get in touch via [email protected]

This article was first published in the 4 April 2013 edition of Post

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