Working full-time in bids isn’t normally the direction young people are given by the school careers advisers. Being a Bid Coordinator isn’t normally part of the dream when graduates are considering their future. However, for Fiona Cooper and Isobel Clarke, starting and building a postgraduate career in bids/pitches has been extremely rewarding for themselves and for Crawford & Company – the NYSE-listed global insurance claims management specialist where they are making a fantastic impact. In this Q&A, Fiona and Isobel share their thoughts and explain why they would encourage young people and employers to invest in developing careers in this area.
What was the career journey that led to you working in bids at Crawford? What are key parts of your role?
Isobel: I studied marketing and always wanted to work in a creative industry. Working in bids provides a great balance of project management and creativity. It’s great to be involved with all areas of our business. Being a part of the business development team has given me a great insight into how instrumental the bid team is to our success at winning and retaining business.
Fiona: I previously worked in another bid coordination role before working at Crawford. I spotted an opportunity to join Crawford and was intrigued about working in a new industry (claims management) I knew nothing about. Having worked at Crawford for 18 months, I have learnt that working in bids is very much about people rather than the industry itself.
What are the areas where you feel you add most value and are most rewarding to you?
Isobel: The role is really varied. At Crawford I’m given the opportunity to flourish in areas where my strengths lie. For me I really enjoy creating projects from the ground up, developing creative content based on individual requirements and our business’s core values. Navigating people through this process and managing the project from beginning to end is really rewarding.
Fiona: I also enjoy the variation of work and the broad range of people and departments we work with daily. I particularly feel I add most value through my project management and analytical skills, which allow us to continuously improve our process each time around. I find the insights from external and internal feedback very enlightening.
How have you grown over the past 12 months?
Isobel: My knowledge of the insurance industry and the principles of bidding best practice have grown significantly over the past 12 months. I previously had no experience of either and one year on I feel very comfortable in my role. I have grown in confidence and I am now able to challenge and offer input and guidance to client directors and other senior colleagues, which I know they value.
Fiona: Within the past 12 months I have really begun to understand the importance of establishing a relationship with potential clients and customer fit. This has become a priority particularly during the pandemic when face-to-face meetings haven’t been possible. It’s been more important than ever to create foundations for growing relationships – both with clients and across our own business.
What makes a productive bid environment for you and others involved in bids?
Isobel: A productive bid environment begins with an established bid lead who has a strong understanding of the client. It is our duty as the bid team to guide this person and the wider team through the process. In order to do so effectively, we must prioritise the wellbeing of the team. Bidding can be an intense and stressful time so we try to reduce this by following an agreed process and ensuring no individual is overwhelmed.
Fiona: We establish an open and honest environment with our colleagues to ensure we continuously improve. The environment is based on trust and constructive feedback, allowing us to collaborate more effectively on the next bid.
How important are female role models to you?
Isobel: We are really fortunate to have a very inspirational President, Lisa Bartlett. Inclusion and investment in people is firmly on her agenda. It is great to see a woman in a senior role in this industry and to see first-hand that these roles are accessible to all.
Fiona: It is very important to see the topic of gender equality prioritised and discussed within the work environment. It is equally important to work in a business where a male member of our own leadership team has been recognised externally for his support towards women within the industry.
This article was written by Peter McPartland.
Peter is recognised for his strengths in bid team leadership, innovation and performance improvement. One of the first law firm employees to achieve the APMP Certified Professional qualification, Peter is also a winner of an APMP UK national award for Innovation.