of Patrick Smith, Risk Insurance & Claims, Hertz Europe

I don’t use an alarm clock. I am a fairly light sleeper and certainly in the summer the birds in the garden wake me up at about 4am. I don’t have breakfast but, before I leave, at my wife’s insistence I take a couple of vitamin tablets. I am out of home and on the road before the household is awake and usually in my Uxbridge office by 7.00am.

My first task is to write a briefing note to my Hertz Rent A Car and Hertz Equipment Rental colleagues in China. The briefing note is related to the insurance and regulatory framework. Hertz are starting to trade in China and we’re in the early stages of putting together and designing their insurance programme which I am responsible for. So I need to make sure that my colleagues understand what they need, what might be recommended, and the implementation process of building the programme. Equally, I want to understand exactly what Hertz activities are and what their operational needs might be in China. The local relationship will be a critical success factor once the programme is in place.

I also get in touch with our captive in Dublin. We have a debate over whether a new emerging risk, which is the hiring of scooters in Paris, is suitable for placement in the captive or whether I should procure external insurance until we have better knowledge of the risk and rating requirements.

At 9 am or thereabouts – all spare time is taken up with sporadic phone calls, talking to people and reading emails - I have a European Senior Management Team meeting. Led by the Hertz Europe President, there are about 12 people attending and we have a two hour conversation on trading, projects, initiatives and strategy. My emphasis is to understand the priorities of Hertz EMEA and the Corporation and identify the contribution that my Risk, Insurance and Claims business can make to the overall financial and operational objectives. My membership of the Hertz SMT is critical to aligning our specialist activities with the business, get a ‘heads-up’ on new initiatives and enable us to be informed and make a difference.

At some stage, mid morning, I pop down to our ‘#1 Café’ on the first floor and pick up a cup of Starbucks. My order is always for an Americano with an extra shot and room for milk - and that will see me through to lunchtime.

Our SMT meeting is concluded at about 11am with action points noted and I move on to another meeting. Today all my European Claims Managers are in our Uxbridge HQ. We are holding a one day workshop regarding our pan European replacement claims system which goes live in the UK office within a few days. The workshop is to support the process of identifying what modification might be required in each country; and attention is focused on the Conventions in France, Spain and Italy. I drop in to support my Project team and take the opportunity of doing a 30 minute communication to talk about the current risk, insurance and claims strategies, initiatives and projects. I also cascade some of the information delivered during the SMT earlier in the day. I brief them on the priorities and what they should communicate the key messages to all staff within their own teams when they get back to their offices tomorrow.

This afternoon at about 1pm I give a presentation to the Hertz Europe Operating Council on some of the risk projects that we are managing at the moment and to lay out for them precisely what they can expect in the next period from the risk, insurance and claims function. I also to talk to them about some of the global risk, insurance and claims initiatives on a ‘good to know’ basis. We are creating a global platform for some of our activities and I figure that business and operational buy-in is essential to the success of our changes.

Down to #1 Café. As a creature of habit (or preferring to avoid unnecessary complication!) I have my usual; a sandwich and a mug of soup.

“I also get in touch with our captive in Dublin. We have a debate over whether a new emerging risk, which is the hiring of scooters in Paris, is suitable for placement in the captive or whether I should procure external insurance until we have better knowledge of the risk and rating requirements.

At 3pm I have the weekly Finance Team Meeting. I report into our New Jersey corporate headquarters to the CFO of Hertz Corporation, but I have a ‘dotted line’ into the CFO of Hertz Europe who leads the meeting. This is our weekly 30 minute roundtable to talk about finance issues. At 4pm I have a conference call with the global risk and insurance group in Dublin and the US. Again, we have a weekly round up to ensure we are all in tune with all global insurance and risk initiatives and particularly looking at the global insurance programmes. This process ensures that the hard work is joined up and is focused on those items of greatest financial impact or are committed to on our global Action Register.

I have to fit in my normally daily telephone conversation with my European Operations Manager based in Belgium. He is responsible for the service delivery in our eight claims offices and is overseeing about 165,000 claims. Our fairly regular conversations have a standing agenda which is people, process and performance. We have a quick roundtable with the focus on problems and successes around these three subjects. I am looking for exceptions – good or bad. I pull in my European Technical Manager who is responsible for the cost of claims and spearheads our counter-fraud strategy. We have our weekly operational review. This week that conversation also includes my financial Controller who reports on where we are on administrational cost and our head office and country P & L accounts.

In between meetings and teleconferences, I have been in touch via email with our brokers about one particular line of insurance. This class is currently purchased locally but I would like to create a pan European programme. That will reduce the number of policies we buy, increase the quality of the cover and reduce the cost to Hertz. We’ll probably go with one carrier who is able to directly write this cover in each of the countries and reduce the cost.

I am going in to Holborn to meet one of our lawyers at about 7pm for dinner. One of the key areas that I focus on (aside to managing the Operation and all those more task oriented disciplines) is making sure that I am reviewing the strategy of what we do, benchmarking and identifying best practices just to avoid stagnation. You can get so absorbed in the day to day of Hertz that it could be east to miss the bigger picture. I do make a conscious effort to share experiences and gain market knowledge. By doing this, we are able to maintain change and continually improve and refine.

Whilst I am home today at 10.30pm, if I am not travelling, I typically get home at about 8.30pm. I try to unwind in the car by listening to music and once home I ‘vegetate’ for about an hour and then go to sleep, maybe on the sofa or hopefully I make it to bed.

I don’t really unwind until the weekend and my pledge is that weekends are my own. I’m a season ticket holder at London Irish RFC. My daughter is a singer so most weekends there is a gig and that’s a good way to socialise and have the family all together. My weekends are completely devoted to family and they really help me to relax, get my balance back and regain a proper sense of perspective.

I enjoy my work and love my family; so I don’t think that I would have it any other way!

Patrick Smith is European Director, Risk Insurance & Claims, Hertz Europe Ltd