Humans of NZI

Returning ‘home’ to where it all began with a fresh perspective and new-found energy has been a dream come true for NZI’s new Auckland and northern regional manager, EK Nielsen.

EK is a self-proclaimed 'boomerang' – with an insurance career spanning almost 25 years – and has recently returned to NZI for a third time due to an “awesome opportunity to do something different in the insurance space.” 

EK has always been driven by a desire to serve the unique and evolving insurance needs of all New Zealanders, and in her new role, has quickly set about forging new relationships, and enhancing previous ones as a key cog in the wheel of NZI’s commercial and personal distribution team. 

Her passion for the sector, combined with a love of people, promoting safer communities, and an adrenaline-fuelled family life ensures EK is always on her toes.

As regional manager, her 'dream job', EK says she has the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of like-minded people and bring her years of experience to the fore – mostly gained through her unique roles within NZI over the years. 

An achievement to savour

EK rejoined NZI earlier this year following a four-year stint working in underwriting and property claims at Ando, and now knows that NZI is where she truly belongs. 

“I initially returned as an underwriting manager for the northern region overseeing one of the commercial underwriting teams. I have since moved into the regional manager role where I manage the Auckland-based team that looks after brokers from Pukekohe to the top of the North Island. It’s such a rewarding role, and I’ve certainly found my happy place!”

She says it has always been a long-held goal of hers to work towards the regional manager role. “I’m so excited by the challenge that lies ahead for me and my team, and I’m quietly proud that my goal has come to fruition,” she says.

“Being able to base myself across three Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland offices means that no two days are the same. I’ve relished the opportunity to catch up with some of our brokers already this year. It’s been so special rekindling relationships, and I can’t wait to attend our upcoming conferences and professional development days to put new faces to new names.”

Third time’s a charm

EK’s varied and unique career with NZI began in a Takapuna call centre in September 2000. It was there that her passion for the insurance sector was fully realised.

“Like many Kiwis, I did my OE, though mine took me to Denmark, rather than London, where many other New Zealanders go,” she says.

“For me, Denmark has always held a special place in my heart as it’s where I met my husband, Dan. His family are from Fyn (Funen) which is between Sjaelland (Zealand) and Jylland (Jutland). I lived with Dan and his family in Langeskov, his hometown, while working and studying there.

“As a lover of languages, I guess it was inevitable that I’m now able to speak fluent Danish. I thought it’d be a good idea to learn it just in case my name popped up in any conversations!

“After completing my university studies in Denmark, I returned to finish my postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland, while also working full-time at NZI.

“I initially worked on the personal and commercial underwriting lines at NZI before moving into roles as a product specialist and technical training consultant. I then stepped away briefly where I worked with IBANZ before returning to NZI a second time from 2008 – 2019 where I held positions as a partnership analyst and senior business development manager.

“The opportunity to return a third time and work alongside Andy Rowe (now Head of Aon CPF) was a big personal pull-factor for me. Plus, with NZI being a much larger organisation, the development opportunities available are second to none." 

Creating safer communities 

A strong sense of community has been a key driver for EK over the years, and she feels that an opportunity exists for those fortunate enough to be working in the sector to make a real difference for New Zealanders.

“I think the industry has experienced some challenging times, especially last year following the two major flooding events. As underwriters, brokers and partners, it’s been amazing to see how we’ve all banded together to continue supporting our customers."

After spending time working in claims, EK said she has heard customer stories and seen photos and videos that are simply gut-wrenching. “As we continue listening to our customers, we develop a greater understanding for their specific challenges and needs, and we’re also able to clearly identify how everyone is affected by certain events differently.

“I feel the more we learn about and understand our customers, the greater the support we’ll be able to provide.

“As a team, we are here to provide peace of mind for businesses, our brokers and customers, and help New Zealand become a safer place overall.” 

Family ties remain the key

As a proud mum of two young boys, Ollie (13) and Kasper (10), EK says her protective nature perfectly aligns with her chosen career path.

“I’m totally risk averse – my boys on the other hand are complete adrenaline junkies, so it definitely goes with the territory to be working in the insurance sector!

“They’re both keen rugby players and motorcross riders, so for me, spending time with them either on the field or at the track is a real highlight. Don’t get me wrong, watching them out there terrifies me, but I get through it by focusing on whether they’re fed and watered. 

“For Dan and I, Ollie and Kasper are by far our greatest achievement. We’re immensely proud of everything they do, and we hope they continue to grow to become good humans. The boys drive us insane at times as I’m sure many parents can relate to, but for us, we feel so lucky to have them. Seeing them excel and be passionate about the things they love is truly inspiring!”

With a busy and productive year planned, EK is looking inward for inspiration. “In my experience, being true to yourself, owning your decisions, and doing what you love is the key to any endeavour.”

EK says she can’t wait to get stuck into her new role and is excited to work alongside many of our broker partners and meet those she does not know already.

“I have a brilliant team and we’re 100% committed to doing our bit to help make New Zealand safer for generations to come.”

Kasper and Ollie tearing it up on the motorcross tracks!

June 2024