New Zealand

2022 is shaping up to be a year of significant firsts for Ashraf Dhoray; not only is he about to welcome his first child into the world in late October, he has secured a role as one of Delta Insurance’s newest liability underwriters.

From representing New Zealand in the Youth Olympics to building his career as a liability underwriter for Delta Insurance, Ashraf’s life has been far from boring.

From a young age, Ashraf always had a passion for the insurance industry, and aspired towards a career in the profession.

He was introduced to the insurance sector while studying at the University of Auckland, and once he’d graduated with a BSc in Statistics, he began working for Tower Insurance in a customer support role. This initial introduction to the insurance industry stimulated his curiosity for risk analysis, and with a head for numbers this statistician was quickly enamoured by underwriting.

Ashraf departed on his OE to Europe to expand his knowledge and experience new cultures. During this time, he worked in the banking sector to help fund his travels and kick-start his career.

Even before he left Aotearoa New Zealand, Ashraf had sought advice about underwriting from his peers at Tower Insurance. While the opportunity had not materialised during his time overseas, he returned home with a firm resolve to direct his career towards this dynamic component of the industry.

Ashraf secured a position with Ando Insurance Group in a commercial underwriting support role and committed himself for five years while he learned the ropes.

In his experience, smaller companies tend to have great culture: often staffed by people who have come from senior positions at larger companies, they have a strong understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and they’re prepared to do things differently – to rock the boat.

“You get to see new things, and you get to develop closer relationships with people from across the business, people with tremendous experience who are willing to guide you. Learning about the wider business is particularly important given insurance is concentrated on relationships, so it’s always interesting to learn what people do,” he says.

“It’s such an amazing team and everyone's so full of knowledge. I just want to soak up as much as I can.”

With Ashraf’s move into his role as a liability underwriter with Delta, he is even more convinced about the benefits of smaller, more nimble companies. Ashraf’s primary role is to assess the risk of a particular policy, and what terms to impose on it.

The role feeds into his background in statistics, and as he builds his skills in the more technical elements of the job, he confesses to really enjoying the risk analysis component. Having represented Aotearoa in badminton, he has a competitive streak that is appeased by getting it right, the first time.

“A lot of time we identify the risks ourselves, then they provide feedback; it’s a really big learning curve, even for the more experienced guys on the team”, said Ashraf.

“A big discussion we have with each other is making sure there is consistency; including with the terms that have been imposed and terms for the same type of risk”, he explains.

Ashraf is incredibly positive about his introduction to Delta Insurance, which he says has been supportive and welcoming, with a business model he believes is ahead of its time.

“One of the good things about Delta is that they hire people who align with their values as an organisation, and they’re focused on providing a good work-life balance, and flexibility for their staff.

“The other thing is that you know everyone, even the directors. There is a hierarchy, but it isn’t pronounced – everybody’s opinion is respected, and people are encouraged to speak up.”

When Ashraf isn’t in the office, you’ll find him being fit and active enjoying the outdoors, a common trait of Delta staff. Ashraf has played badminton competitively since he was five years old, and in addition to competing in the Youth Olympics, he’s also donned the silver fern in the World Junior Champs and Youth Commonwealth Games.

Ashraf has continued to play recreationally, but after returning from overseas he ruptured his Achilles. This has forced him to take a step back from anything too high-intensity, and perhaps his penchant for risk analysis has done him well in this respect.

Ashraf has been particularly inspired by the senior managers at Delta Insurance, and their focus on developing the younger members of the team. The open, supportive structure of the company, and the willingness to pass on knowledge gained through many years of experience has motivated him to want to mentor others.

“It so cool to see someone grow,” says Ashraf. “Delta has such a strong mentoring culture. So much of my role is dependent on experience, and I look forward to reaching the point where I can help others in their professional development”, he says.