Dedicated to effecting change in the insurance industry, Darryl Grater has been an IIG councillor since 2017 and has recently been appointed as the IIG’s Deputy President.
With his 13 years of work experience, he has built up a well-rounded understanding of the short-term insurance industry through an array of roles including; forensics to Head of Claims, Procurement, Strategic Projects, Intermediary Services and Business Development.
He is currently the Executive Head (Coastal Regions) at Discovery Insure, where he is responsible for intermediated sales and distribution. Darryl is also a strong believer in education being a key enabler. He attended Wits Business School and received a top student and top syndicate awards for their executive education MAP Programme, thereafter, enrolling in their Masters programme where he attained the Dean’s List Award.
Tasked with heading up this year’s Education Portfolio, we asked a Darryl a few questions to hear his personal views on career development.
You have reached executive level early on in your career. Please share some of the things you believe have attributed to this.
I’d like to touch on a few themes:
Progress requires work
My late father was the epitome of dedication and hard work – often up before 03h00 and in the office at 05h00 to ensure he could provide for his four children. Off that base of reference, I have put my best into all the roles I’ve been involved in. I have a bit of a cliché saying which is close to my heart, “luck favours the prepared” – and I’ve tried to live by it. The “luckier” one will be in life, is often determined by how prepared they are i.e. how diligent was their actual delivery in their role, how adequate was their studying for an exam, how extensive was their research into a problem before suggesting a solution? Statistically, you’re going to progress further if you put in the work – this not only goes for your job, but for other aspects like your education as well.
I was fortunate enough to secure a full-time job when I was 18 years old, and it just so happened that my first formal employment opportunity was in the insurance industry. Having started early, this gave me a head-start with work experience (so I have had some time on my side). I have only ever worked for two companies, and again I was fortunate in that both those brands have enjoyed considerable growth in their markets. Fortunately, these environments enabled opportunities for those who were willing to raise their hand and put in the effort.
Don’t ever go to bed feeling like you could have done more
I am fortunate in the sense that I am not a great sleeper, and generally get 20 hours out of my day. That gives me enough time to get to gym around 05h00 which has the added benefit of avoiding the traffic every morning. The day starts early after a quick workout, and while my brain is relatively fresh I’m able to start working around 07h00. I’m a firm believer of trying to get admin out of the way in the morning so that when colleagues and business partners are ready to meet with you, you can focus on the topic at hand without the stress of unattended admin. If you can do something now – do it.
I (like many of those reading this article) happen to attend many meetings, and therefore have to clear emails and work that may have accumulated throughout the day. Staying for an hour or two after work helps, and also allows me to put some work into my Wits dissertation. Leaving work around 19h00 again allows a quicker commute home as the traffic has cleared.
I mention my routine as it works for me: I’m generally up to date on emails, deadlines and other tasks, without compromising on exercise and private pastimes like studying; it’s critical to master your schedule and it should evolve and compliment you as your life-stages develop. There are two life-hacks I also recommend to those that struggle to get to all their daily tasks: 1) simply get up earlier, and 2) don’t waste time on excessive TV, social media and other activities, which in moderation are fine and may even be healthy, but often are excessive for many people.
I recommend a mentor to anyone at any stage in life. Having a formal mentor or life coach to give you guidance or direction, or to simply give a different spin on things is important. A mentor needs to tell you like it is, whether you like to hear it or not, and in my view should challenge your sense of norm or status quo. If you don’t have a mentor or aren’t in a position to have one currently, as a minimum I believe it’s fundamental to surround yourself with strong, successful and positive people to ensure your subconscious state is one of growth and solutions, with a keen sense of what is topical and current.
Timing…and staying the right amount of time
Timing is often critical, and as I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate to work at companies that were growing. Getting into a company/opportunity early which leverages off a great brand, a scalable value proposition and a repeatable business model often provides opportunities, which in my case Discovery Insure did (an awesome brand and place to work by the way!).
Once in a role, it’s important to cut your teeth and earn your stripes. That often doesn’t come in a year or two and my challenge to many job-entrants is that an investment does take some time, so ensure you remain long enough to demonstrate your value. There is a reason why Generals in the military don’t achieve that rank in a year or two. Such accountability comes with a keen understanding of what actually goes on in the trenches at that grassroots level, leading & motivating junior management who are at the coal-face, enabling middle management, empowering senior managers, managing the financial model which funds the operation, and the ability with that experience to not only spot trends and threats before they cripple you and your teams, but also to importantly take advantage of opportunities for strategic relevance.
What is your stance on work-life balance?
I think that balance changes based on the stage of life you are in. It’s also important to note that people work for different reasons. For some, they may have a “9-to-5” and have all the personal time in the world, but may not have life balance due to excessive time on the couch. Also, some people find an escape in their work and it keeps them grounded in the face of difficulties they may have. There are those too who simply really enjoy their work and so working longer hours does not necessarily prejudice them. I believe it’s important to identify how much time you need to apportion to the different elements of your life and stick to this – one should have enough free time to get enough sleep, an acceptable diet, enough exercise and an adequate amount of family time if one has a family.
You’re passionate about education – what are your ambitions for the IIG’s 2019 programmes?
Education is a key enabler in society. An educated society is more likely to see higher employment levels (and importantly entrepreneurship,) better health levels, lower levels of crime, an overall higher life expectancy, and in short – less risk. I am passionate about education as it is a key enabler to fast-track positive change on a macro level. #YourIIG has world-class education-focused programmes which are running this year such as the ILDP. At an NQF-6 level and facilitated by world-renowned GIBS Business School, the students who embark on that journey have a wonderful opportunity to open their minds and scale their foundation to fast-track their abilities.
I am blessed with a superb team in the IIG’s education portfolio this year, and they all strive to ensure the programmes and Insights sessions are not only brilliantly arranged, but that also they offer real value to those in attendance.