"I’ve got an inquisitive mind and I didn’t understand what insurance meant back then. That fuelled a big interest for me, as the more I read about it, I wanted to learn more."
Chris has been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years and has come full circle – returning to the IAG fold after previously working for State Insurance around 20 years ago. He has also worked in New Zealand and in Australia, in both the insurance and broker world.
Chris says his love for learning and experiencing new things has continued throughout his career. In fact, it even led to a full year of training for an ironman race!
“I had to learn how to swim and that was terrifying because I was afraid of the ocean. As a birthday present, my wife hired someone to teach me to swim and he used to take me outside the shark cages in Sydney so I could get used to swimming in the sea. By the end of that time I could swim five kilometres. I love swimming now, but I certainly wasn’t a good swimmer then.”
Training consisted of three to four hours of daily exercise. Chris would swim in the morning, run at lunch time and would do a cycle track of 25 kilometres in the evening. He even participated in swimming races in the weekend.
“It was a drastic lifestyle change; it was like an addiction. As you start doing it, you feel you can always improve and do better. I ended up doing nine races, and each time you go through what you’ve done and where you can do something differently next time.”
Chris returned to New Zealand from Australia four years ago, and since then he’s swum from the North Shore to the city underneath the Harbour Bridge a couple of times, and he enjoys sea kayaking, which he does almost every weekend. He has kayaked from Auckland to most of the Hauraki Gulf islands, his favourite being the Beehive Island, and even did a four-day camping trip overnight on different beaches from Auckland to the top of the Coromandel – clocking up more than 180 kilometres!
But Chris’ learning path doesn’t stop here. He is also known by another of his hobbies – making home brew beer.
“I started with three other dads in the neighbourhood and we’ve been doing this for five years and we haven’t had many bad ones since then. You get experienced and we bought better gear over time.
“Our little garage is growing in size and we make our beer from grain, which is a more traditional beer-making style. We boil the grain and make it from scratch. We always try new recipes, as half of the fun is experimenting.
“We get right into it and have even made t-shirts and a label. When the British and Irish Lions were over here, we tried to make an English brown ale as well as our own take on Guinness. Suffice to say we enjoyed the fruits of our labour!
“One of the guys wanted us to go commercial about two years ago, but the wives wouldn’t let us take a second mortgage on the house to do it commercially, so at the moment it remains a hobby.”
For Chris, a busy dad of two, insurance still gives him the thrill of learning.
“There’s plenty of variety, every risk is different. I’ve always enjoyed the corporate end, and I’m happy to be back.”
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