Johanna Sturges

Global Programme Manager in the Insurance Claims Management Industry

Johanna studied Business and Finance at college before being offered an office junior position at a local employment agency. Within a year, the insurance claims specialist she had been working for, via the agency, offered her a full-time contract to work as PA to their branch manager.

  • London-Skyline
  • Johanna’s journey into claims management began and developed from working as PA to the branch manager

    Today Johanna specialises in the delivery of programme management to global clients for the world’s largest independent provider of claims management solutions. She works alongside her husband and they both, rather uniquely, work together from home.

What motivates you in your work, would you say?

I thrive on doing a good job and pleasing people, I am motivated by the responses I receive from client’s upon a successful job and the appreciation of my colleagues when I am involved in a team project. I enjoy meeting new people and am always ready for a challenge! My role is fairly specialist and I have learnt a lot over the 20 years I have been doing my job. It is necessary for me to travel fairly frequently and I enjoy experiencing different places and cultures and learning the differences from my own country and culture.

Technology has changed how businesses operate

 – How have you kept up with these changes?

I am lucky that my company offers constant training and improvement. I have been involved in the development of our global claims system from the very beginning and so have a good knowledge of how it has developed and why. Through constant use of various different IT systems I have kept up to date with most modern technology!

 – To what extent has your working life changed as a result?

To what extent has your working life changed as a result?
A lot of tasks are not automated, the general progression has been to automate more which reduces manual work, leaving more time for other tasks. This brings its own challenges because the automated tasks still need to be monitored. It is definitely more effective but rather than making more time, the demands are just different.

 – Considering the impact of technology, what will your current job look like in five years?

I imagine my job will look very different in five years. Some of the tasks that I undertake today will no longer exist! I am hopeful that I will be included in the journey and I am quite looking forward to the changes and challenges that it may bring.

What does your job look like on a day to day basis?

The main purpose of my role is to ensure that the client is happy and fully satisfied with the service received from our offices worldwide and the global data that we are providing. On a day to day basis I am dealing with queries from clients about their programme, questions from our local offices around their role and what is required of them. I have to consider and implement solutions to existing and new problems/issues. I might be involved in a new implementation which will take up a great deal of time in its first stage, meeting the client, putting solutions in place, building specifications for the claims system and global reports, issuing instructions to local offices around the world. I am also involved in several specialist projects which range from anything to re-structuring of a global programme to planning and implementing solutions for a local country issue.

How has your job contributed to your growth as a person?

I gain confidence each day, every time I meet someone new or visit a new place or successfully complete a new task. I have not yet taken any formal insurance qualifications (I haven’t had the time!) but I have a great deal of knowledge and technical ability that I have learnt over the time I have worked in my role. My confidence for travelling alone has improved greatly and the world seems a much smaller place because of this! I appreciate the money that I have earnt as it has allowed me to live a comfortable life and provide for my children in the way that I wanted to.

What would you do if you were given the opportunity to do any other career/job and what stops you from doing this now?

If I had the opportunity to change career I would like to work in the caring profession. I get a lot of enjoyment from looking after people and dealing with people and I feel it would be more satisfying for me. However, I can’t consider changing career at this point in my life because of the financial responsibilities that I currently have. I feel that I have a happy medium at the moment, doing a job that I enjoy and earning a salary that keeps us comfortable.

Which values or skills does your job not give you opportunities to exercise and to what extent have these values and skills been channelled into life outside of work?

I think the main thing that I miss is really making a difference to somebody’s life, which is what truly makes me happy. At work I undertake necessary tasks and I do the best job that I can possibly do, but I don’t feel that it is life-changing. So I try to do as much as I can outside of work, when I have time I will try to get involved in a community project, I also help an elderly neighbour with tasks like walking her dog and then, there are the four children who always need guidance and support and I get a lot of satisfaction from helping them as they become independent!

What are the positive and negatives of working from home as opposed to working in an office?

Working from home is great for getting a job done without distractions, travel time is non-existent and being in the comfort of my own home is a definite plus. I also have the opportunity to put dinner into the slow-cooker midday, or hang the washing out which helps to keep the household chores under control whilst working full time! However, I miss the comradery of office life, the general chat and relationships that develop and it’s difficult when I want to talk through an issue for ideas. Also, sometimes I feel left out. When I go to the office I seem to get included in more projects and issues (although with my workload this might be a negative!)

How has your work contributed to your awareness of other cultures?

Because my role is a global one, my awareness of other cultures is quite good in my opinion. I have learnt how to liaise and understand different people with different cultures. This is important in my role because I am liaising with clients and our own staff in lots of different countries every day. Insurance and legal issues are different from country to country and I have learnt a lot about these.

What three things do you feel most passionate about?

Completing what I have started, Doing the best job that I can, Keeping up to date!

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in something they are passionate about?

I would say that nothing is beyond your reach, if you are passionate about something then go for it and don’t let anyone dissuade you. Anything is possible, it might need specialist training, or further qualification or lots of work experience but it is really important to go for something that you feel you would be happy doing. Working is a huge percentage of your life and it’s important to be happy.

What do you feel is more important in your career, money or happiness?

Happiness! We all want security and comfort but at the end of the day we will live longer and have a better quality of life if we are happy. Before you commit to financial responsibilities consider what they are worth and whether you will be happier, because after you commit, it is difficult to change paths.

To download Johanna’s “Working Lives” profile as a hand out for use in the classroom click the link below.

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