"All the best brokers have natural passion, in fact any good leader will always demonstrate passion and confidence in what he or she does," says James Summers, chief executive of Cooper Gay & Co.
Choose four adjectives to describe yourself.
Loyal, positive and proactive are my first three. Some people might call me aggressive, but I'd say placid should be number four.
- Which historical figure do you most admire and why?
Sir Winston Churchill for his inspirational leadership and sheer energy, even in his latter years. He was running the country, painting, writing books and brick-laying for relaxation all at the same time.
- Who in this industry do you most admire and why?
Matthew Harding has been gone for over ten years now but the memory of what he achieved still inspires me. Starting his career as an office junior, he built a unique franchise at Benfield almost from scratch. I don't think it's an overstatement to say that his genius had a significant influence on shaping reinsurance in the London market to this day.
- Outside of this industry what issue are you most passionate about?
As I am sure any parent would respond, the biggest issue would be my three children, who continue to amaze me with their development on a daily basis. Unfortunately, my colleagues have to share many of these experiences with me, as I do tend to talk about them quite a lot!
- What qualities do you most admire in other people?
Honesty and passion. All the best brokers have natural passion, in fact any good leader will always demonstrate passion and confidence in what he or she does.
- What qualities do you most dislike in other people?
Apathy and the deliberate avoidance of contentious issues. Bad news doesn't improve with age. It's much better to deal with difficult matters when they arise rather than allowing them to fester.
- What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started in this industry?
I would have liked to have had a fuller appreciation of the wider aspects of business. It fascinates me today that each segment of our process has a contribution to the overall strength of the business. A greater understanding of this helps to realise the value of your role in the chain and the resultant consequences of the way in which we conduct our business.
- What was the last thing that completely surprised you?
Manchester United 7 Roma 1.
- How do you unwind at the end of the day?
Working out in my gym or visiting the East India Arms for a chat with my colleagues. Sometimes it's good to revisit the issues of the day over a quick pint!
- What motivates you on a Monday morning?
Winning new business. Nothing gives me a greater sense of reward than when my team generates new business, no matter how big or small. It's great to give them recognition for their successes. A very public pat on the back can often be more valuable to someone than a pay rise.
- Whose job would you most like to have and why?
Robert De Niro's. He has a meticulous approach to the research of the roles he plays and this professionalism always comes through in his performance. It always looks like he is having a great deal of fun and he usually wins the day.
- What is your biggest regret?
I instil in my children the need to continue in education even though it's not something I did myself. Aged 16, my desire to earn money and build a career led me to the insurance market; now I wonder what I might have achieved had I taken my education further.
- What are you most proud of having achieved?
To be running Cooper Gay's UK operation.
- What factors have enabled you to get where you are today?
Apart from the usual dedication and persistence, it's the ability to have a clear vision of which direction I see the future of our business. This enables the creation of clarity for those people around me, as clarity underpins the growth of any successful business.