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Viewpoint: Many paths to success



Just as there is no single path into the insurance and risk management industry, there is no path to the top. This year’s Women to Watch profiles highlight the achievements of female leaders who entered the industry from many different starting points.

There are quite a few who were straight out of high school, eager to make a living and curious enough to give insurance a try. Some entered the industry through internships and rotation programs, learning on the job. One of this year’s honorees even discovered a new career path in database administration after organizing the office supply closet at an insurance provider. Some followed their family or friends to insurance, which is a common route for millennials, according to Business insurance”

;s survey of insurance professionals on page 16. Still others entered graduate programs, having completed degrees in everything from accounting and law to Egyptology and classics.

The breadth of starting points is surpassed only by the diversity of careers and specialties where this year’s awardees continue to hone their craft. What struck me as I read through the profiles was how many are working in leadership roles in fields that didn’t even exist a few years ago. While people outside the industry may still think of rising car premiums and a certain well-known gecko when they hear the word “insurance”, these women are pushing the boundaries of what has traditionally been considered insurable. Innovation may be an overused term, but brokerages and insurance companies are among the companies that now have chief innovation officers, a role held by at least one of the honorees. Many roles focus on technology and increased risk from digital sources and the interconnected world we live in. This includes risks around cyber, privacy and storing data in the cloud.

Climate change, not surprisingly given recent catastrophic weather events and increased regulatory activity, is another avenue where many are pursuing innovative work. Some awards are focused on renewable energy, sustainability and the development of new coverages such as insurances for mass timber builders and parametric insurance for construction weather. Environmental, social and governance risks – the topic of the day, not necessarily clearly defined or understood yet – are attracting a lot of attention as insurers incorporate corporate efforts to better manage such risks into underwriting.

The cannabis sector continues to be an evolving exposure area where hedging solutions and risk management strategies are in demand. Covid-19 exacerbated the lack of mental health resources, and this is another critical area where awards are developing insurance services to enable businesses to provide viable support.

Female leaders also do not seem to choose easy career options. Complex risks have been the path and specialty chosen by many of this year’s winners. As one succinctly put it: “You’re not necessarily the broker that anybody wants to talk to, because nobody necessarily wants to underwrite the risks that you have.” Yet it is these complex risks that will continue to drive the industry forward and allow it to go through many more cycles of innovation. We celebrate this year’s winners and their adventurous choices.


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