Born: Calcutta, India
Your current role:
I am CEO of Zurich Insurance in the UK. My work is about setting strategic direction for our business and leading relationships with a range of stakeholders – our customers, intermediaries, employees and the communities we operate in.
Zurich is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 54,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty, and life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations. The UK is one of Zurich’s largest markets where we provide property and casualty insurance to the majority of firms in the FTSE, smaller listed companies, thousands of SMEs, individuals and a wide range of public bodies including local authorities schools and universities. We are also amongst the few insurers in the UK to provide life insurance and savings products in addition to our property and casualty business.
Your first ever job:
As a dogsbody in a small business for about six months during a break from university.
When did you join the insurance/risk profession?
The earlier part of my career was in corporate finance and I started with an insurance company in a corporate development/M&A role. I found quickly that I really enjoyed the challenge of stripping all the complexity back to first principles and that bringing a fresh perspective was a good thing to do.
What is your single proudest achievement?
Managing a full life thus far – having a great relationship with my now 81 year old mother, raising two kids who are 12 and 8 with my husband who is my best friend and turning up to work every day keen to learn something new and determined to make a difference.
MBA, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Alumni Achievement Award, IIM Ahmedabad.
“When one door closes, another opens” (Alexander Graham Bell).
Scrawl. I have very variable handwriting. Motor skills again!
Are you competitive?
I am but I generally tend to be focused more on absolute rather than relative accomplishment.
Growing up on a farm in India in the 1970s as the only child of older parents shaped me. My father was semi-retired from being an economist in the United States and had taken up farming, my mother, who is an academic left home every morning at 7:30 to travel two hours to work often coming home past nine. Growing up with two unconventional, independent-minded, strong characters with a great generosity of spirit and strong views on right and wrong left its mark. I decided quite early that I wanted a career in business (possibly because as the child of two academics, this was my attempt to forge an independent path!) and so my choices through undergrad (mathematics, economics and statistics) were aimed at setting me up for an MBA. Turns out, given how I have spent the latter part of my career, I could have been an actuary!
I spent the first 10 years post MBA in corporate finance roles in India that involved large, complex, innovative transactions.
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: 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: cii.co.uk