x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Early life, and making a success of a career plan B

Ken Maw grew up in Shrewsbury in the UK, where his family once ran what was once the largest tile factory in the world.

Ken Maw grew up in Shrewsbury in the UK, where his family ran what was once the largest tile factory in the world, Maw and Company. Today, the factory is preserved as part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum there.

He was educated at Oundle School, a boarding school in Northamptonshire, which he says he enjoyed "although it was not an easy ride". After finishing his A-level exams, he decided to skip university and go straight to work as a laboratory assistant at Spillers in Cambridge.

While there, he worked on the side in a tavern a couple of nights a week and coached a Cambridge University women's rowing team. Two years later, he moved to London with Spillers but lost his job after a takeover.

After an unsuccessful application to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, he was offered a job with the Royal Hong Kong Police but instead decided to join Sir Julian Hodge in Cardiff and start a career in insurance.

"It was here where I think I gained real retail insurance training working with all manner of clients from large corporate risks to sheep farmers in the Welsh valleys," he says.

He came out to Dubai in 1983 - "the insurance industry in the UK can be a bit mundane", he says. Once in the emirate, he was groomed by Ralph Barber, who headed HSBC's insurance joint venture at the time. Mr Barber, an old-fashioned stalwart in the Dubai business community, was a "father figure" for Mr Maw.

He regrets never entering the military, but his professional journey has been fun for the most part.

"While I may have longed for a military career in the past, I now have a passion for collecting old British campaign medals and soaking up British history," he says.

 

afitch@thenational.ae