Why did you launch the company?
Having worked in the employee benefits sector for almost 20 years at the time, and with much of that in the large corporate space, I realised that the best consultancy and advice was reserved for much larger businesses, and that smaller organisations were missing out. It didn’t seem right to me that SMEs were being treated in such a transactional way, especially considering that they make up the vast majority of the working population. I felt they deserved better. Launching Engage was really about fixing this problem by giving regular businesses access to the best employee benefits advice and first-class customer service, but importantly, without the huge fees which larger consultancies charge.
What is it you’re most proud of about the company?
In a world where every new business seems to be started with large investment by virtue of a venture capital or private equity, I’m most proud that we’ve done things the old-fashioned way. Starting in a spare bedroom in my house with meagre savings and two young children was a great way to focus the mind on the task at hand, and “boot-strapping” our way to where we are now through hard work and good decision making without outside help, provides an amazing sense of achievement.
Do you have any favourite instances where you’ve helped customers out?
There have been lots! One personal favourite was taking on a large insurer (on behalf of a customer) who’d refused to pay their claim, leaving the customer with a £4,000 bill to pay themselves. It took me 11 months of battling, call recordings, escalations and getting the Financial Ombudsman involved, but eventually we succeeded, and the customer not only got their £4,000 back, but also all the backdated interest! Ironically, we only earnt around £200 per annum from this customer’s business with us, and some would say it wasn’t worth the time, but getting a great result for a customer against a large corporate organisation was priceless!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s those moments when we genuinely help people and make a difference to someone’s life, even someone we don’t know. Recently, a client contacted me because one of their female staff had been attacked at a work event and needed to access counselling services. We were part-way though setting up a policy to provide this service for the client in question, but it hadn’t been fully implemented yet. On hearing the news, we rapidly got the right people on the phone at the counselling provider, offering to cover the cost ourselves if needed, and ensured that the colleague in question was able to speak to someone within the hour. When you go home from work in the evening, these are the things you reflect on and realise you really helped someone.
What’s your favourite workplace perk?
I’d have to say our Private Medical Insurance! My aging body combined with my misguided view that I’m the next Alan Shearer, has resulted in a close relationship with a number of physios and orthopaedic consultations!
I love playing football (when not injured), reading, swimming, running and going on holiday (is this a hobby?). I also love shouting “You’re welcome” at people when holding a door open for them and they don’t say thank you.
It’s quite broad but I love everything from Red Hot Chilli Peppers through to a bit classical.
Any guilty pleasures music wise?
My daughters once heard me singing along to McFly on the radio, and mocked me for weeks haha!
I’m a big fan and have a special love for 80’s films. The Breakfast Club, The Lost Boys, Stand by Me, and The Goonies are some of my favourites!