Rising high, shining bright Rising stars

10-09-2016

Rising high, shining bright Rising stars

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In a world filled with competition Bermuda strives to stay ahead of the chasing pack. As a part of a bigger feature available online, Bermuda:Re+ILS tracked down and interviewed 30 young executives—all 35 or under—who represent some of the brightest talent on Bermuda.

Bermuda’s re/insurance industry has seen many storms—some physical and some metaphorical—and it has always shrugged them off and continued with business as usual. But there’s always been another, constant, struggle, and that’s the battle first to recruit the best staff and then to keep them from being inveigled away by competitors.

Re/insurance has not always been perceived as glamorous. The fact that it’s an integral part of the modern financial system sometimes escapes outside observers. However, the industry remains untarnished by recent scandals and with a growing reputation for thoroughgoing professionalism.

Time marches on and with it comes the reality that no-one (with the possible exception of Warren Buffett) is immortal. The industry will always have a steady stream of people retiring due to age. The need for fresh new blood with fresh new ideas will always be present. Talent is always being sought in the world of re/insurance.

"Global opportunities within the insurance industry were important to me when it came to considering potential career paths.” Rachel Barnes, Hamilton Re

So, where is the talent of the future? In many cases it’s already here. This article is linked to a much larger one that is available online that takes a look at some of the exciting and talented people who are starting to make their way in the industry.

We have profiled 30 young executives, all aged 35 or under, from a wide range of companies in the re/insurance industry. We asked them how they came to join the industry and what their aspirations are for the future.

We have selected a small sample of profiles to showcase below. As always when you look at the opinions of those currently on the way up the ladder they make interesting reading. The overall message is that Bermuda’s re/insurance market is exciting and diverse and, above all, attractive for new entrants.

 

No barriers

Shannon Dyer, litigation associate at ASW Law, had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do when he started his career.

“There were two things that I was sure of entering law school. One was that I wanted to be a litigation lawyer (as opposed to a corporate lawyer), and second was that

Bermuda was a bourgeoning offshore international business jurisdiction,” he says.

“What took me some time to figure out was how to combine what I wanted to do with Bermuda’s main international business industry of re/insurance. Upon doing a summer internship at ASW Law under the guidance of Rod Attride-Stirling and Jan Woloniecki I realised the vast opportunities for a litigator in the re/insurance industry in Bermuda.

The work I do is challenging and there is always something new to learn about.”

Rachel Barnes, junior risk analyst at Hamilton Re, was born and raised in Bermuda and describes herself as lucky enough to be exposed to opportunities and careers in the insurance industry from a very young age.

“Aside from the fact that there are many different career opportunities in Bermuda for young people in the re/insurance industry, I felt that my studies and my experience with data analysis could be utilised in the re/insurance industry,” she says.

“In addition, having been exposed to and taking an interest in the industry growing up, I knew that it is an incredibly dynamic and social industry not only for people here in Bermuda but for people worldwide—global opportunities within the insurance industry were important to me when it came to considering potential career paths.”

Tosha Burgess, assistant vice president, client service at Tokio Solution Management, would not say that she chose to go into re/insurance.

“I would say it is an industry I was exposed to and, once in the environment, was an industry I found interesting and challenging. One might say that the industry chose me and I looked to make the most of the opportunity.”

 

Glittering vistas

Encouraging young professionals into the market has always been a priority for the re/insurance industry and many of the rising stars that we profiled stress the need for this—especially given the fact that the industry can at times be seen as a little dull.

“Insurance has generally been perceived as inherently boring and many young people believe that you must have a math or science background to have a career in the industry,” says Christa Schweizer, corporate associate at ASW Law.

“There are lucrative career opportunities in the insurance sector for those who, like me, don’t have a particularly strong quantitative background. People may not think of a corporate lawyer as an insurance professional but this is a great example of how diverse the industry is and this should be promoted more to young professionals.”

Thomas Parcell, broker, Global Re Specialty at Aon Benfield, believes the industry is attractive to young professionals. “It is, absolutely. The space is continually evolving whether that be in terms of new product development or alternative capital. Whether your role is in underwriting, broking, claims, or marketing there is interaction on a daily basis with people from a wide range of backgrounds and skillsets,” he says.

“The opportunity to work in a dynamic marketplace is definitely an attraction. Back in 2009, I would say there wasn’t that much awareness of the reinsurance space in general at universities and schools. However, today there is a very noticeable demand for places on graduate programmes, internships and school leaver placements.”

Dyer agrees. “In the last few years the market has become highly appealing and competitive in several re/insurance-related careers as young professionals see that the re/insurance industry provides a great means to an end.

“It allows for the possibility of working overseas and the ability to develop a skillset that is transferable to other jurisdictions. The demands are high but the rewards are worth it and many young professionals are taking advantage of the opportunities the industry now provides.”

 

Reinsurance options

Karen-Anne Fox, senior risk analyst at Hamilton Re, says that the industry does a good job of encouraging young professionals in not only training and development for the job at hand but by helping employees in all areas of development—on and off the job.

“There are many social/networking and travel opportunities which are far less available in other industries,” she adds. “In addition, there is always room for job advancements or changing career paths within the industry as each job position can help with the next, even if it’s just understanding more the overall industry at hand.”

Parcell agrees. “There are great opportunities in this industry if you have a good work ethic and are willing to make the most of opportunities when presented,” he says.

“The global nature of the business means that there is scope to travel, which adds to your development through doing business in different markets. In Bermuda, there is exposure on a daily basis to key decision-makers and senior executives. You learn more about the business every day and it is a great market to be a part of in terms of career development.”

“While at Tokio, I have always been supported by the company in completing my designation, attending seminars and participating in programs for my continued professional development,” says Burgess.

“Many companies have offices in multiple jurisdictions, which allows for transfer opportunities to gain experience beyond Bermuda’s shores. This can be of great benefit to our young Bermudian professionals.

“The foundation of the re/insurance industry is built on harnessing strong client and colleague relationships, with a great deal of one’s experience derived from first-hand knowledge gained from seasoned veterans in the industry. I encourage young professional within re/insurance to take the time to talk to those around them, as the knowledge transferred can prove to be invaluable throughout one’s career.”

Stephanie Paiva Sanderson, corporate attorney at BeesMont Law points out that the economic challenges of the ‘Great Recession’ made it a more difficult time for young professionals in the legal industry for a few years, although she adds that recently the industry seems to have adapted and found its footing once more.

“The fact remains that it is a very competitive industry although once you are able to get in there are many opportunities for advancement,” she says.

“The legal industry is diverse and its professionals can choose which area they wish to specialise in, which can be very rewarding provided the right choice is made. Young professionals should keep in mind that opportunities are not restricted to law firms—they can explore opportunities to act as in-house counsel, consultants or mediators, for example. An open mind is key to finding the right opportunities and the right fit.

“One really great thing about the legal industry is that it often provides the opportunity to branch out to participate in various committees and volunteer endeavours which really support our community, economy and help build Bermuda’s international reputation. That is extremely rewarding,” she concludes.

ASW Law, Bermuda, Insurance, Reinsurance, Hamilton Re, Rachel Barnes, Risk management, Tokio Solution, Aon Benfield

Bermuda Re