Pro Global CEO — 'Much like most sports, business is a team-based game'

SoGlos talks double-digit revenue growth and lessons learned over 30 years in the insurance industry with Steve Lewis, CEO of Gloucester-born insurance specialist, Pro Global — from his stand-out career highlights to why a business needs a strong team to grow.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Pro Global CEO Steve Lewis speaks to SoGlos about his fascinating career journey in the insurance market, which has included senior leadership roles at Zurich Group.

One of Gloucestershire's most impressive business success stories, Pro Global planted its roots in Gloucester in 1993 and now has a global presence in the specialist insurance market, with offices across the UK, Europe and Latin America.

With the business on track for another year of double-digit revenue growth, and almost doubling its team in the last four years alone, SoGlos speaks to CEO Steve Lewis about how three decades of experience in the insurance market and support from Pro Global's strong team is helping him to steer the business on an upward trajectory.

Can you walk us through your journey into the insurance sector, highlighting the key moments that shaped your career path?

My career journey began as a trainee accountant, followed fairly quickly by my first role in the insurance industry, joining Eagle Star in 1989 as an internal auditor, operating both in the UK and internationally. This experience served as a great foundation for me to learn the business of insurance and also work across a range of different nationalities and cultures.

In a significant career move, I was seconded for six months to Hong Kong, where I worked alongside Booz Allen consultancy to develop a Pan-Asia insurance and asset management strategy. This experience helped to further evolve my knowledge of financial services and build a broader consulting capability. Following Zurich’s acquisition of Eagle Star in 1998, I was presented with the opportunity to take on my first full leadership position. This pivotal move allowed me to broaden my role from finance to also encompass operations.

One of the most rewarding parts of my career was gaining further international experience by living and working abroad. In early 2002, I moved my family, which included three children aged four and under, to Australia to work across the Asia Pacific region. We stayed there for two years, during which time I had the opportunity to see England win the Rugby World Cup. Subsequently, we moved to Switzerland, where we lived for the next six years. During this time, I held senior global finance and operations roles for the Zurich Group.

In 2009, my family and I returned to the UK. Initially, I served as the CEO of Zurich’s UK insurance business. Later, in early 2015, I joined RSA to head its UK and International division and most recently joined Pro Global in 2020.

Some 35-plus years later, it’s been an interesting journey and it’s not over just yet!

Can you share three stand-out achievements in your career, before becoming CEO of Pro Global?

One of the more memorable experiences of my life was personally delivering my third child at home. It was an unexpected and unique event that certainly counts as a significant achievement, although not necessarily one that suggested a career move!

More career specific and an achievement of sorts — which was challenging but ultimately rewarding — was the opportunity to work closely with Zurich’s executive management and Group Board to navigate the implications of the financial crisis in 2008-9.  

Another career highlight was having the opportunity to steer Zurich’s UK business from loss-making to market leading profitability, capped off by being voted UK Insurer of the Year. This was a significant team effort that marked my first major success as a CEO.

What aspects of your previous roles do you find most valuable in strategising for Pro Global's growth?

In the grand scheme of things, a person's effectiveness is determined by the experiences and capabilities that they've accumulated over time.

It’s crucial to recognise that you need a strong team around you to both generate ideas and guide a business to success. Much like most sports, business is a team-based game. As CEO, your role is to ensure that you have the right team on the pitch and to coach the collective to achieve better outcomes than any individual could achieve in splendid isolation.

My ability to influence Pro’s long-term success is a direct result of all that I’ve experienced and learned to date. Interestingly, this learning often comes as much, if not more, from the failures than the successes encountered along the way. These experiences, both good and bad, shape us individually and our ability to add value over time.

How do you prioritise employee wellbeing and corporate social responsibility initiatives within Pro Global's overall growth strategy?

In the realm of business, it’s not so much about prioritising as it is about integrating employee wellbeing and corporate social responsibility into our everyday operations. These elements are just as important as any other in balancing the key ingredients that make a business successful.

Like any other business, we must stay attuned to the changing world around us. We need to keep adapting to maintain our relevance, whether it’s to attract people to Pro, retain our existing team, or meet the expectations of our clients and local communities.

Business, by its very nature, requires juggling of multiple inputs and adjusting as circumstances dictate. A prime example of this was the almost overnight shift to a hybrid model of home and office-based working during the Covid-19 pandemic. This shift, while presenting both positives and challenges, underscored the importance of adaptability. As the saying goes, 'it’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survive but those most capable to adapt to change.'

Pro is still on a journey, one where we are continuously striving to adapt and change for the better.

What are your long-term plans for Pro Global's continued success and growth in the global insurance market?

Our business is on a promising upward trajectory. We have delivered double-digit revenue growth for the last three years and are on track to continue this trend in 2024. Our team is nearing a strength of 800, marking an increase of around 50 per cent compared to 2020.

At the heart of our business philosophy is a simple principle: putting our clients at the centre of everything we do. We believe that focus is the key to driving value for both our clients and Pro. We are not striving to be all things to all people. Instead, where we choose to offer services and solutions, we aim for our focus and capability-led value delivery to be second to none.

Ultimately, we are a people-based business. Our goal is to simplify the complex, capitalising on a rapidly changing world to offer services and solutions that our clients can rely on. This allows them to focus on areas where they can differentiate, drive value and excel. If we get this right, it’s a win-win situation, and one where Pro can continue to scale and flourish.

What makes Pro Global a great place to work?

It’s a place where you can build a career but also a place where we aspire for everyone to feel at home, to feel they can bring the best of themselves to work. We are a business that believes one should hire for attitude and train for skill but also a business that recognises that we are not yet where we need to be, not the finished article and that’s the exciting part — the journey ahead!

In partnership with Pro Global  |

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