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A Day In the Life. Episode 3: Business Development Manager, Cecilia

Episode three in our ‘A Day in the Life’ series comes from networker extraordinaire and business development manager, Cecilia Manduca. Cecilia spent the day making connections at a technology event, chatting to some exciting startups about their funding options, and spending some quality time with her colleagues. All in all, a very productive day!

March 13th

It’s 7:15 a.m. and, even though it’s earlier than usual, it’s time to wake up. I usually reach the office around 9:30 or 10 to avoid rush hour and, let’s be honest, treat myself to a nice lie in (thank you, flexible working!). Today however I’m attending an InsurTech Event that kicks off at 8:30 in the city of London. So I’ve had to get up nice and early.

Half an hour later, showered and dressed, I’m off to face the commute from SW4 to Farringdon, where my event takes place. I’m the Business Development Manager here at GrantTree and part of my job involves scouting out innovative startups that may be eligible for government funding. Being based in the centre of London’s thriving startup ecosystem – Old Street – certainly helps this. It means I can attend a variety of industry-specific events where I can not only meet founders, but also learn more about the challenges that specific sectors are facing.

I also like to treat myself to meetings and events around the city. Even though I’ve lived in London for more than three years, I still enjoy discovering new places and scenery. And I can’t help taking the (not so) occasional touristy pic along the way. Dentons, the venue for TechNation’s InsurTech Standards Launch in the heart of the city, is perfect for this. I mean, what a view!

Crane in city
What a view!

At 8:30 the room begins to fill up. Soon, thanks to the free tea, coffee and Danish pastries, we begin that random chit-chatting and introducing one-another that in business is normally called ‘networking’. The room is a melting pot of very ambitious start-up founders, industry reporters, accelerator programme managers, investors and corporates. We are all curious to learn more about one-another and plant seeds for hopefully fruitful partnerships. I’ve worked at a number of startups, so I always enjoy sharing success and horror stories with founders.

The main topic of the event is the launch of the Insurtech Standards; a series of best practice documents born out of a collaboration between HMRC, Tech Nation and the InsurTech board. The Standards are designed to provide support for startups that are trying to disrupt the insurance industry, which is dominated by incumbents.

The panellists (Founders of InsurTech startups Brolly and Cuvva, lawyers from Dentons and Simmons & Simmons, and Head of Strategy from Hiscox) give their overview on how these documents are going to create a better environment in which the new generation of InsurTech startups can build successful businesses.

TechNation’s InsurTech Standards Launch
TechNation’s InsurTech Standards Launch

There’s a lot of interesting innovation happening in the InsurTech sector, including the rise of on-demand insurances (one hour of car insurance, anybody?), policies that cater to underserved social sectors (such as insurance for migrants) and interesting Machine Learning applications (like models to predict flooding).

The Standards also have support from the UK government, which is trying to make Britain a leader in insurance innovation. At the end, we are all left wondering: is the InsurTech sector going to be the new FinTech?

A few more conversation and business cards exchanges then I’m fighting against Storm Gareth to make my way back to the office, Spotify in my ears and CityMapper in hands – please don’t judge! I arrive at 11:00 am, find a free desk in the office and spend some time replying to some clients’ emails. Startups work at a much faster pace than corporate business so I try my best to get back to clients’ queries within a few hours. I then move over to our very comfy ‘Grotto’ space to have a meeting with my colleague Emma, during which we discuss a few clients.

It’s now 1pm and tummies are rumbling. Time for lunch! GrantTree has a wonderful policy called LunchForce that allows us to expense our lunch once a week if we go out as a team. Four of us take advantage of this. We decide to bring some takeaway sushi back to our Treehouse café, have a chat about our days and get to know the newest member of our team, Marty, a bit better. GrantTree is a very different place compared to your usual corporate job and it’s always fun trying to gauge new team members’ first impressions – don’t worry they were all good!

After that starts what looks like a normal afternoon in the life of a Business Development Manager; hopping around the office, in between my desk and a cosy call booth. I have a call with a fascinating AdTech startup with an interesting use of blockchain to discuss applying for a grant from Innovate UK. Then I have a knowledge-share meeting with two members of my team to improve my financial skillset. Then again, a weekly check-in with our Lead generator supplier. Finally, I have a call with a fast-growing EdTech start-up to discuss how our Advance Funding service can be the ideal solution to bridge their funding rounds.

My cosy call booth
My cosy call booth

In between all of that? Jokes with the colleagues, endless cups of Lemon Green Tea and one too many of our tasty, healthy snacks.

Time flies when you’re having fun (and working hard) and suddenly it’s past 5pm and somebody is Slack-calling (yes, we use Slack instead of emails for our internal communications – emojis all round!) for beers. Everybody is wrapping up their busy day and some cans of beers are being opened. Suddenly there’s a very festive atmosphere in the office – even though we can work from home whenever we want, it is nice to spend time in the office and enjoy the company of such like-minded people!

I usually start wrapping the day up at 6pm and leave the office at around 6:30 so I can have a gentler journey back to South London. But today is special and some of us are heading out for a social – pizza and drinks at Wedge Pizza in Clerkenwell! We are going there to say thank you to our colleague Emma for her two and a half years at GrantTree and wish her good luck in her new job. It’s always sad to see a colleague go. But at GrantTree, I think we have a great and really mature attitude to departures.


Farewell, Emma!
Farewell, Emma!

A few slices of pizza and glasses of beer later and it’s time to start heading back home. Luckily, my morning doesn’t involve any face to face meetings so I will be #workingfromhome tomorrow!

More from our Day In the Life series:

Episode 2: Chris Cerra

Episode 1: Lena Weber-Reed

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