Q&A with Kim Vernau - Construction Magazine
- Date: 31/07/2014
Q: What was your first proper job?
I joined Thomas Miller & Co working for P&I, (which insures third party claims for ship owners and charterers) on 14th July 1986. Thomas Miller is the parent company of BLP Insurance so I have worked here for a while.
Q: Briefly chart your career to date.
I qualified as a Barrister in 1986 and also hold an LLM in Shipping Law. I commenced employment as a claims handler for shipping claims and then moved to Area Manager in 1994. In 1995 I was seconded to a document imaging and workflow project called Oasis for four years. I returned to P&I as a syndicate manager and then in 2001 became the Group Internal Auditor and qualified as an Internal Auditor. From there I moved to Thomas Miller Investment as their Commercial Manager for three and a half years. I have been with BLP Insurance for five and a half years, initially as COO becoming CEO two years ago.
Q: What inspires you to go to work every day?
It sounds cheesy but the company I work for and the people it employs. We have some inspiring individuals who work here across the spectrum of the wider business and in BLP Insurance itself. No one day is ever the same.
Q: Would you say you live to work, or work to live?
Most people who know me well would say the former, particularly my long suffering Husband!
Q: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to your position in the construction sector?
Focus on the important matters, how you treat people and maintain your integrity. Do what you say you are going to do. If it does not feel right don’t do it.
Q: As a construction industry professional/leader, describe your three main qualities.
Drive, determination and an optimistic outlook tinged with a touch of realism.
Q: And your worst quality?
Expecting everyone else to be as organised as I am.
Q: What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?
Being informed through a 360 degree process that I am seen as a role model elsewhere in the business. Humbling and at the same time very gratifying.
Q: What has been your biggest mistake in the business?
Trusting some individuals too much and anticipating they would do the right thing.
Q: If you could work in a completely different field of business, what would it be?
I would become a Blue Badge guide and offer tours of London. The combination of history and meeting different people from all over the world every day would be my dream job.
Q: What has been the most beneficial development in the construction industry during your time of involvement?
The turn in the economic fortunes of the country coupled with the realisation that we must now invest in housing for the future, particularly the Build to Rent Sector. This will help to address the current shortage of homes we are experiencing while supporting the requirement that people need to be more mobile to
pursue job opportunities.
Q: And the most detrimental?
Changing the culture of the industry to embrace both alternative methods of insurance and construction is a long and arduous process. These changes are required to build cost effective and energy efficient homes which encompass design requirements that result in people wanting to live in them coupled with comprehensive insurance requirements which supports the whole team on the project as opposed to a
blame approach in the event there is a problem.
Q: If you could employ anybody from the worlds of construction or business who would it be and why?
My father who spent over fifty years in the travel business because of his enthusiasm for an industry he loved, his support and care of his staff and his continued appreciation of all the opportunities presented to him over that period of time - and for being successful.
Q: What are your aspirations for your business for the coming five years?
To ensure that BLP Insurance is a key contributor to the construction sector in terms of its level of knowledge of how to harness innovation to ensure that all types of build are developed to enable the people who live or work in them to thrive.