He recently completed his year-long work experience in the City and now former London Welsh flanker Mike Denbee has been rewarded with a full-time position at Bluefin Group Insurance Brokers. The 29-year-old who drew a close to his rugby career this season, started his new role at Bluefin this month and chats to The RPA about life in a suit, and how he found the transition from rugby to business.
Mike you recently started your new role at Bluefin, how has it been so far?
It’s been great, the transition so far has been really positive. I have had a lot of support from the team who are all very welcoming and encouraging. I am still putting things in place and working out what goes where, so hopefully I get the hang of it soon. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to start going to meetings, introducing myself to people, creating contacts and speaking to as many of my colleagues as possible.
Can you explain your specific role at Bluefin?
I am a New Business Executive, which means my role is to attract new business to the Private Clients Division. I help people who have big houses, fast cars, jewellery, boats and basically make sure they get the best possible insurance for all their expensive goods.
How did the role at Bluefin come about?
I first got in contact with Bluefin through a lady called Sally Ballardie who I met at an Aviva Networking Event hosted by the RPA. Sally introduced me to a guy called Jamie Eaton, who then put me in touch with Bluefin’s Business Development Director, Jon Wozniak. From there things progressed really quickly and positively and I was soon offered the role. I think I could have continued playing professional rugby for a couple more years, but with my 30th birthday fast approaching, I decided this was the best time to start over. Joining Bluefin was the best possible approach to take and I can now look forward to the coming years knowing my life is heading in the right direction.
Have you always been interested in the insurance industry?
I studied Business at university before I started playing professionally, so I was always keen to keep looking for different opportunities within the business world. When it actually came to thinking about a career after rugby, I spent some time looking at my skillset and analysing how I operated and the insurance industry seemed the best fit. The one thing that really excited me when I first met with Bluefin was that the role was being developed around my skills and how I liked to work and do things. That gave me a massive confidence boost and really made the thought of waking up and putting on a suit, a really exciting feeling.
How did you find the transition from rugby to business?
I found it really easy to be honest. I am still playing rugby part-time for East Grinstead so in that sense I still have one foot in the door. I do find the balance really good because it allows me to switch my rugby brain off during the week and focus on my role at Bluefin. Sally Ballardie was amazing through the transition and her company provided fantastic guidance and support. She has been hugely influential and it would be rude of me not to give her a plug.
How are you finding the commute into work?
Well the commute isn’t ideal. I have to follow the ‘drain’ as it’s called from Waterloo Station to the City which can be quite a challenge. I am hopefully moving more central in September, which should reduce the trip in and out each day.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young player what would it be?
Always be aware that only a very small amount of players make it to the very top of the sport, so be thinking of what you would like to be doing if you weren’t playing rugby. Look at ways to upskill yourself by attending as many networking events as possible, meeting and introducing yourself to loads of different people and doing as much work experience as you can. We all know the injury rate is increasing and we all know that one day you could be playing and then the next it could be all over, so be ready and have your back-up plan in place.
Did you achieve all your goals in rugby?
Throughout my career, my number one goal was to play in the Aviva Premiership and then for my Grandad to see me playing in the Premiership and luckily I managed to achieve both. While I only played for a brief period in the top flight, I really loved my time at London Welsh and finishing with a promotion is always nice. I think London Welsh will be better prepared in the Premiership this season than a few years ago, they have a great group of young players and management, so I can’t see why they won’t be successful.
And finally are you looking forward to your future?
Definitely, I think I have been handed a great opportunity here at Bluefin and I am certainly going to grasp it with both hands and get the most out of it as possible. Working in the city was always something I wanted to do after rugby, so it makes my future very exciting.
Jon Wozniak- Bluefin Business Development Director
Jon, how has Mike been so far?
Mike has been great, it’s still early days but he has settled in really well and has certainly been very visible around the office. There has clearly been a lot of interest around the fact that someone of Mike’s standing is working here, but on the whole he has been fantastic so far.
What attracted you to hiring Mike at Bluefin?
I think his competitive spirit and his rugby-minded discipline are principles that fit perfectly within the sales and development industry. His head strong approach is also something that really attracted us to Mike. He really wants to succeed in life and that is definitely a characteristic that here at Bluefin we really admire. If his start at the company is anything to go by, then I think Mike will be a fantastic addition to our team, and I am sure he will go a long way in this industry.