Every day starts with a countryside walk. My route takes me through a local farm where I often get chased by a really angry goose! My colleagues know all about it because they’ll often hear me negotiating with this goose on morning phone calls. They think it’s absolutely hilarious.
I try to start work at a quarter past eight. However, being part of the International Health team at Cigna Healthcare means it’s not unusual for me to be up at six in the morning for a call with Asia, or speaking to the United States well into the evening.
I always go to the gym in the middle of the day and do another walk at the end of the day. I am absolutely religious about these breaks because I would go insane working across different time zones without some routine. My manager is based in Hong Kong and my colleague, Paula, is based in the south of England. So connecting with my team face-to-face means travelling down to London, which I try to do about once a month. I’ll also go into the Glasgow office a few times a month, to connect with stakeholders, or just to go out to lunch with colleagues.
I like getting my teeth into major projects which is the big appeal of my current role at Cigna Healthcare. I started in this new role in November and my first project was rolling out our rebrand across International Health in March. Less than three weeks after the roll-out went live, we held an event with The Economist where Cigna Healthcare was the main sponsor. Our President of International Health, Jason Sadler, and Arjan Toor, CEO Europe, Cigna Healthcare, were both speakers. It was a big activation. Not only did we have to get Jason and Arjan prepped for their speaker sessions, as well as for media interviews with Sky News and LBC radio, we also launched our Global 360 Well-Being report from the event, as well as running an exhibition stand and sponsoring the networking drinks reception. So there’s been a lot of meaty projects to get stuck into.
I’ve been at Cigna six years. I started on the UK domestic side of the business, where there was an expectation to get your hands dirty and get involved in everything. It gave me a good grounding into the world of private medical insurance, which I knew very little about, having come from elsewhere in the financial services sector – which is a massive employer in Scotland.
Living in Fife, I was a remote worker from the start. The alternative would have been a two-and-a-half hour journey each way to our Glasgow office. I told the recruiter I couldn’t do that, yet they managed to persuade Cigna Healthcare I was worth it nonetheless.
Outside of work, I am a Munro Bagger. A Munro is defined as a mountain in Scotland that is over 3,000 feet. There are 282 of them in Scotland and people who try to climb all of them, to ‘collect’ them, are called Munro Baggers. And I am one of them. I think this is what happens to you when you get into your 40s.
I started climbing hills in lockdown. Everyone was going out and getting their hour of exercise and I started walking locally with my (then) teenage son, Sam. But we soon got bored walking the same routes and decided to try our nearest hill called Benarty. We had such a good time climbing it, though realised that we were not "hill fit" in any way, shape, or form. But we started doing it every night after that.
I’ve now climbed 112 Munros. But I’ve been ticking off the ones that are easy to get to. I now need to start taking on the more remote ones. But a lot of them are so remote that they’re not as achievable in a single day hike.
I tailor my gym training to help me bag Munros, as you need a great deal of stamina on a mountain. Some of the trickier climbs can involve scrambling (where you need to use your hands to climb steep terrain) or even rock climbing. So in the gym I work on a mix of cardio and strength exercises.
I often joke that my son Sam keeps me poor. But he also keeps me company on a lot of walks. He’s 21 now and is studying for a Masters in Chemistry at St Andrews University which is about 45 minutes away from our home; far enough for it to make sense for him to stay there, but close enough for me to visit. And we’ve done a lot of Munro Bagging together. Although when I climbed one in 2021 called the ‘Inaccessible Pinnacle’ – considered to be the most difficult Munro due to the rock climb required to reach the top – he didn’t come, telling me ‘Mum, I’m too young to die’. Which was reassuring!