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Tuesday, 23rd April 2024
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Playing the game of life Back  
Alan Lewis is one of international rugby’s best-known referees, and was involved in the Rugby World Cup 2003, as well as the Six Nations this year. But he also has a day job, and is managing director of Lewis Hohn Williams, an insurance brokerage.
6.20am Alarm goes and I realise my daughter has sneaked into the bedroom again. ‘Good morning Daddy,’ she says ‘will I put the TV on for you?’ After my early dose of sports news on BBC Breakfast it is time to get up. The preparation for the other occupation beckons, and it is off to thhe gym for a work out. This can range from easing the sores of the previous week or building towards the challenge of the week ahead. It is also a fantastic discipline and one which sets you up for the business day.

7.45am Quick breakfast and off to the office. It is a changed place for me these days. For years we were a six person family-type operation. The market forced us into a new consolidated direction. Essentially we are now three businesses in one, following a merger and an acquisition, and we now employ 22. That phenomenon has brought in a new set of demands. During my cricket career, I had captained teams but this was a new challenge. Although I like leadership, the managerial and organisational demands of business were new to me. The one feature I was determined we provided was a happy work place. As a consequence the drive to work is largely a very pleasing one. Quickly check some emails and glance at The Irish Times if I am lucky. Has Gerry had a go at me from a game the previous weekend? No thankfully, all is well!

8.30am Our size demands new disciplines and reporting. Firstly, my partner David Williams chairs the non-life commercial meeting. This involves all our commercial executives as well as our accounts manager. The renewal process is a lengthy one and we discuss in detail the up and coming renewals to ensure we are getting the best possible terms for our clients. This is followed by a cash collection analysis. IFSRA has now put heavy demands on how and when we collect premiums on behalf of clients. This is then followed by some market discussion. Our latest concern for instance was terrorism cover in the light of the Spanish tragedy and the softening market.

9.30am The emphasis now moves to the life, pension and investment side of the business. It follows a similar pattern with new business, administration and renewals being discussed. There is a much more strategic method to the way we conduct our business now. This was alien to me only two years ago. Again IFSRA has put demands on the business and there is no doubt that the disciplines have helped us. We now have a much better structure to what we do.

10.15am Some quick calls to clients and insurers, the main one being a claim negotiation. Policy wordings and the rights and wrongs of what is covered are commonplace. However it is how our clients judge us. I place huge emphasise on this side of the business.

10.30am Quickly check some mails again and then call Cara to go through some documentation for an up and coming staff pension presentation. She always keeps me right. Off to the presentation. The ten or so come in sheepishly but by the end are full of beans…. And we were talking about pensions!!! Now that’s what I like. That is the real satisfaction in the job for me. The insurance business has largely become very impersonal. Not for me thank you.

12.30pm Check in with Cara and Sally. Any news? They tell me to get lost, everything under control. Phone call comes through from Carol in the IRFU. Owen Doyle my refereeing boss is on wondering when I am going to do my fitness tests. Every few months we have to do this to ensure we meet the targets set by the International Board. I have had calf problems. I ring Mike Carswell my physical therapist and he confirms next week should be ok.

1pm Into the lunch room where I catch up on the real gossip. It is amazing the fun you have when you get five girls going. As usual I get dogs abuse because I have said something out of order. Such is life. Nip around the corner to see if my Dad is in. Thankfully he is and we catch up on some news. He is a TWT man now - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - since he sold out to me some years ago. I have a great relationship with him so it is always nice to have that 45 minutes every now and again.

2.15pm My wife Sharon phones says she has seen an outfit. I say oh no here we go again. We do definitely think differently than women. I reckon her car goes to Liffey Valley on its own now!! More telephone calls. It is non-stop.

3.00pm Sally has prepared a fact find as I have to see a prospective new client at 3.15. Meet the client and get all the necessary information to allow me prepare a report on financial planning issues. This can be quite tricky at times. Irish people generally are quite coy about discussing their financial affairs. Sometimes it is like trying to drag blood out of a stone. All part of the challenge however.

4.30pm Back for a management meeting. We hold these fortnightly and in many cases are a checklist of things that need doing. Housekeeping I call it. Annmarie prepares all minutes and agendas exquisitely. Main issues this week are threats to personal lines business, consolidation of our latest purchase Webb Insurances and our website and when it might go live. These meetings can get heated at times. I like that. We need edge to improve.

6.00pm Pretty wrecked by now and I want to get home. One thing about family is that there is no better time than seeing my kids running to the door screaming ‘Daddy’. I treasure that time and will always be anxious to get that hour with them before they go to bed. It is the switch off button I need. I love the drug of that hour and place huge importance on it. An honest day’s work is all I expect of anyone.

7.30pm See the girls off to bed and sit down and have a little grub. Sharon tucks into Coronation Street and East Enders and this gives me the time for the paper. Thought I might do some work on the computer preparing for the client I met earlier in the day but don’t have the energy.

8.30pm Soaps are over, time to chill and discuss all the fun of the day. I try to keep business out of it most of the time. I like to switch off.

10pm After that action packed day it is time for thinking about bed. It is an early start so the batteries need to be recharged.

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