What is your role?
Global Chairman, Aon Benfield
How did I get to be where I am today? An enormous amount of luck – inspiring colleagues, patient clients, great leaders, shared values.
For the record, before entering this industry my previous job was a road sweeper. In May 1984 I moved to London, no flat, no job, no connections and an overdraft – could have been tricky!
What factors allow you to bring your full self to work?
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
My colleagues, the culture of my company, long-standing friends and connections and a happy family outside work that gives me the security and confidence to be me.
b. Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
Of course. Relentless networking with honest and sensitive dialogue. Will continue to help but we need more champions. You can see further “standing on the shoulders of giants”.
What was your first motivation to be involved with the LGBT+ community? How has this most positively influenced your experience?
Simple – through friends and some true stars like Erik Johnson, Theresa Farrenson and Greg Lowe.
How has the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
It has helped advance our culture and brand, attracting yet more talented people to our ranks.
Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
I find it difficult to answer this but I guess you have to find people you trust and then take it from there.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Always work with people who inspire you and for individuals for whom what they do is core to their purpose. Care more than your competitors, look to get out there the whole time and thrive at any level. Like the best clients, welcome the new and respect tradition. Remain a friend to princes, poets and porters. Don’t try and do it all by the time you’re 30. Manage your energy and be lucky. You will surprise yourself.
Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
Never think of myself as one.
What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Just engage, be confident and comfortable with whomever you are with. I try to take an interest in whomever I am with. I think it is important to remember that you don’t have to be aggressive to be effective. Always ask questions, seek to learn and look to understand.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
Make and effort, show you care, speak out, give respect.
What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
I am a Common Councillman in the City of London. Where possible I speak to D&I and personal choice.
Who is your most memorable role model and why?
In the business, James Mee. He is a very successful guy but in one of the very first meetings we had he spoke to me with an honesty that few people have. I learnt so much.
Outside the business, my wife for many reasons.
How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
I was fortunate I was with people I knew. It’s harder going to any occasion on your own – but the Link event culture is very warm and friendly.
How has the Link network helped you?
It has helped my understanding and sensitivity.
What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
Keep going at it. You are making a difference. You are already achieving great things. Imagine how brilliant it will be if a truly fair and self-assured environment could be established for all.