Inspirational Women in Risk – Theresa Farrenson

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Born in Winchester, Hampshire, our Inspirational Woman in Risk interview this month is with Theresa Farrenson, technology business partner at Aon.

Your current role/short bio:

Technology business partner at Aon, a relationship manager between information technology and business clients inside Aon. I help them manage IT risk. Aon is a global firm that helps its clients manage their risk using traditional and non-traditional methods. At the heart of Aon’s work is a mission to empower economic and human possibility: one key component of how Aon empowers results for clients is the use of Aon’s proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that improve decision making.

I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion and on a mission to improve the profile of the insurance industry and encourage it to capitalise on diverse teams to improve innovation and ultimately profitability. I’ve led the Aon Pride Alliance Network and sit on the Aon Diversity Council. I’m now one of the leaders of Aon’s Age network: Linking Generations and lead the LGBT professional network for insurance.

What was your first ever job?

I worked for a commercial cleaner, I cleaned shop floors before they opened.

When did you join the insurance/risk profession?

1992.

What is your single proudest achievement?

Being part of the launch of the LGBT Insurance Network, hosted at CII Great Hall with over 100 guests and senior, influential leaders as speakers. As founder members we all knew it was a ground-breaking moment, the first ever insurance-wide LGBT event. I remember just looking around a packed and attentive room thinking “we did this”. Since then I have had the privilege of leading Link as it delivers networking and best practice events in London and Leeds.

Relevant qualifications/awards:

BSc Information Systems Management, ITIL Foundation.

Favourite work focused saying:

“If you’re gonna make connections which are innovative… you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does.” (Steve Jobs).

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be more demanding, don’t settle, keep learning.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Keep asking “why” until you understand the drivers. People will often tell you what they want, but not why. With the context of understanding what their issue is, you can help solve their problem in more creative ways.

When did you last ride a bike?

About six years ago, I used to cycle to work.

If you were a superhero what powers would you want to have?

I’d love to be able to understand and speak all languages.

Are you competitive?

Not particularly, I am definitely a team player. There is nothing better than the buzz when a team is operating smoothly and at their peak.

Theresa and an LGBT event with her friend

Your Journey:

I did OK at school, got a lot of ‘B’s. I picked the wrong subjects at college and did rubbish, I needed to retake and still didn’t do well. I was the first in my family to go to university; I scraped into a brand-new course and loved it. I did much better and left with a 2:1. I applied for loads of jobs and eventually got one in a software house that built systems for insurers. It was a new young team and I had a great time with lots of early responsibility and autonomy. My next move was to an internal IT department of a medium broker and this led me to Aon, a global firm, arguably the best in its field (but then everyone says that don’t they?).

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