An interview with David Ross, the chief executive officer of brokers Arthur J Gallagher (UK).
Choose four adjectives to describe yourself.
Driven, passionate, committed and competitive.
Which historical figure do you most admire and why?
He’s still alive so he’s still a contemporary figure: Mohammed Ali. He challenged convention and boundaries, and was a pioneer in so many ways. Even though I never saw him in his heyday he made an indelible impression on me, partly because of the way people used to talk about him.
What about in this industry?
Sir David Rowland for what he achieved for Lloyd’s and the London market as a whole in the 1990s. I started my career in the early 1990s at a time when Lloyd’s was limping and by 1992 I was wondering if I had chosen the right career. Despite all the various moving parts and all the anger and angst at the time, Sir David showed that he was a phenomenal character and made that deal to create Equitas. Its takeover by Warren Buffett 15 years later was the icing on the cake.
Outside of this industry what issue are you most passionate about?
Our organisation does a huge amount for disadvantaged children. The more I have heard about it, the more important it has become to me. Our former chairman, Bob Gallagher, effectively put together a fund which pays for 50 children a year to be educated. Since he died, the London office has partnered with the Sir John Cass Foundation, a charity for underprivileged children, and we pay for their university education and give them the opportunity of employment with the company afterwards. It’s a vital thing for us, which allows us to communicate a message that everybody should be given a chance.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
Honesty, integrity, a can-do attitude and a team player’s attitude.
What qualities do you most dislike?
Just one – disloyalty. I think if someone betrays you, it says everything about them. If, in turn, you can’t learn from it, then more fool you.
What do you wish you had known when you started in this industry?
What I have come to realise is that you never actually get there. One year I might look back at what we have achieved and think it’s amazing and then I look forward and realise how much more we have to do. I had a pivotal moment when I realised that you never get to the top of the mountain because you are constantly evolving. When you realise that, you can appreciate the journey.
“Whose job would you most like to have and why?
CEO of Liverpool Football Club.
What was the last thing that surprised you?
The fact that it’s cheaper to get a taxi from Cannon Street to my office than it is to take the tube. I would like to speak to someone about it as public transport should be cheaper.
How do you unwind?
I am still working on that and I’ll let you know when I have figured it out! I’m getting a gun dog in February and I’m hoping that it will be a big help.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
The belief that by Friday evening we will be a better company than we were at the beginning of the week.
Whose job would you most like to have and why?
CEO of Liverpool Football Club (my team). I happen to think I would do a better job of managing the American owners.
What is your biggest regret?
The amount of time my job takes away from the quality time I would spend with my children. Although a fan of the iPhone, I also regret the invention of the Blackberry.
What are you most proud of having achieved?
I am proud of having assembled an outstanding group of professionals at this company.
What factors have enabled you to get where you are today?
I have allowed myself to be influenced by some truly brilliant people. I was also fortunate enough to work for a company that did not care what age I was. They just believed I was good enough – probably before I did.