If you were ever looking for an industry as a last bastion where men in navy blue suits dominate and there are challenges around equal employment for both genders, then certain areas in the insurance sector would be a good starting place.
Becoming a female senior leader in this sector is no mean feat and in 2017 the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Insurance Supper Club published a booklet showcasing a variety of women operating across the insurance sector. The women featured in this book show how age, race, gender or sexual orientation do not prohibit success in the profession and that opportunities exist whatever peoples background and interests.
The booklet is also part of the CII’s Insuring Women’s Futures (IWF), a programme aimed at promoting and enhancing the insurance sector’s role in relation to Women & Risk.
In a further collaboration with the Insurance Supper Club we took time to catch up with some of the women featured in the booklet to ask a few questions of our own. In this the first of a series of 10 feature articles we hear from Lloyd’s of London CEO Dame Inga Beale.
Dame Inga Kristine Beale
Born: Newbury, Berkshire
“Found a job to pay the bills as a receptionist at the BBC. This was a defining moment in my life. I worked for a confident woman who was a huge inspiration to me. I learned to embrace who I was, value my own individuality”
Your current role:
CEO, Lloyd’s. Driving change across the 329-year-old market to ensure Lloyd’s is here for the next three centuries. Lloyd’s is the world’s specialist insurance market. Led by expert underwriters and brokers who cover more than 200 territories,the Lloyd’s market develops the essential, complex and critical insurance needed to underwrite human progress.
What was your first ever job?
Making lanyards for the army cadet force.
When did you join the insurance/risk profession?
In 1982 at Prudential. I trained as an underwriter, specialising in international treaty reinsurance.
What is your single proudest achievement?
There have been many moments along the way that I’m proud of and each one felt like an amazing achievement for someone who was much more interested in sport than developing their career in the early days. Of course, now l’m very proud to be the CEO of Lloyd’s. But looking back, the turnaround of Converium – a troubled Swiss reinsurer back in 2007 – remains one of my most proud achievements.
I studied for my insurance exams when I started work and qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute in 1987. I didn’t go to university.
Favourite work focused saying:
“Use every opportunity that comes along to grow, and take those opportunities that seem the most scary of all – these are the best for learning and developing.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be authentically you – it will be one of your most powerful tools. Be brave and take the opportunities thrown at you. Be confident in yourself and trust in your ability.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
A medical doctor which led me to choose to study Latin at school.
When did you last ride a bike?
At the weekend to go to the theatre – I regularly ride a Santander bike from my home.
If you drive, what car/s do you own?
I don’t own a car.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Not really. Most people know about my love of rugby, but I also used to row and I learnt piano up to grade five.
What is your favourite song/piece of music?
A Man is in Love, by The Waterboys
If you were a superhero what powers would you want to have?
What is the most difficult interview question you have ever had to answer?
From a journalist: what do you want to do next in your career after this job?
For a job: how do my financial services skills transfer to a different sector (as I’m now in insurance for 35 years we can assume I didn’t answer that very well!)
Are you competitive?
I was the middle child of three, with a Norwegian mother and English father. After finishing up at Newbury College I went straight out and got a job at Prudential. I nearly abandoned the insurance sector for ever after experiencing unpleasant sexism early on. I walked away from my job, vowing to never go back. Went travelling on a round the world trip that took me to Sydney, Australia. Found a job to pay the bills as a receptionist at the BBC. This was a defining moment in my life. I worked for a confident woman who was a huge inspiration to me. I learned to embrace who I was, value my own individuality – which included coming out about my sexuality in 2008 – and have confidence in my abilities. I returned to insurance, and have enjoyed a global career that has taken me to every continent and almost every country across the world.
About the Insurance Supper Club
The Insurance Supper Club is a private members’ group of senior leaders from around the globe. It provides a forum to meet, network and debate business issues while seeking to inspire the next generations of leaders in the industry and the community as a whole. It is recognised that companies currently have an imbalance between genders at the senior executive level. It is also recognised that having a more even gender balance has a positive effect on the performance and value of a business, yet change has been slow. Many reasons are used to justify this lack of progress: career breaks, reduced opportunities, poor networking and also inaccessible female role models. The Insurance Supper Club offers a platform which promotes active participation of its members.
Find out more at: www.theinsurancesupperclub.com
About the Chartered Insurance Institute
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is a professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and financial planning professions. Their 125,000 and more members commit to high professional standards and success in CII qualifications is universally recognised as evidence of knowledge and understanding.
Find out more at: www.cii.co.uk