Women in Hamilton 2017

03-08-2017

Women in Hamilton 2017

Delpixart / istockphoto.com

For the third year running, this publication profiles some of the most successful female executives working in risk transfer in Hamilton. BermudaRe+ILS has selected a handful of profiles of the entrants from 2016 and 2017 which are presented below.

They are part of the BermudaRe+ILS's Influential Women of Bermuda 2017 supplement, which will be published later in the year.

 

Sharon A. Beesley sharon-beesley-website-1.jpg

Company: BeesMont Law (part of the BeesMont group) 

Job title: Partner and CEO

Why did you choose to work in this industry? 

I started my legal practice as a commercial property lawyer with Linklaters as I thought I enjoyed the complexities of property law. After several years I moved into capital market and banking transactions. On arriving in Bermuda 25 years ago I found a niche in investment fund work, particularly infrastructure funds. Nowadays my practice is quite extensive but I have a particular focus on funds and mergers and acquisitions.

When I started my professional legal career I wanted to specialise and large law firms allow for this approach but life and my career took me in a different direction.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Building BeesMont Law from a two-lawyer firm to a team of 11 with support staff and creating an environment which is a positive and harmonious one for all who work in it and at the same time provides a pragmatic and practical service for our clients. Since my early days in Bermuda I have participated in a number of voluntary Bermuda business organisations and been involved with non-profit work in Bermuda and overseas which is personally rewarding and an important contribution to our society.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered? 

Although BeesMont is now ranked and recognised internationally it was challenging to grow it from a legal consultancy practice into a substantial law firm at a time of global economic crisis. It is pleasing now to have five partners who are all committed to the continuing growth of BeesMont.


 

Anna Burns anna-burns-2-website.jpg

Company: Deloitte in Bermuda

Job title: Partner

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

My career started in Australia working at PwC in audit, financial services, with an interest in both retail asset management and retail insurance. I joined Deloitte in Bermuda early in 2004, and continued my focus on asset management, but in the hedge fund space. This evolved further in 2008, when I was able to expand my interest to encompass the ILS and reinsurance space. The exposure to Bermuda’s dynamic and world-class financial services market has been extremely rewarding, allowing me the opportunity to pursue my areas of interest as well as developing professionally.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The opportunity of working with complex, global SEC registrants has been extremely rewarding. Another highlight that stands out for me was being promoted to partner in 2012—and being the first female partner at Deloitte in Bermuda. I hadn’t appreciated at the time the impact the promotion of a female partner would make on the rest of the firm, particularly for the younger women. We have a strong female leadership team at Deloitte now, and I am proud to be a leader in a culture of inclusion and diversity.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

My clients operate in an ever-shifting marketplace, driven by changes in the economy, regulatory environment and technology. We need to be innovative in the face of these changes so that we can bring solutions and value as audit and advisory professionals. At Deloitte, our constant focus is on providing audit quality and solution-driven service.

The challenge I embrace as a team leader is to motivate my staff to adapt perpetually and to develop strengths in the light of a rapidly changing environment.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

I am a logical person and enjoy problem-solving and working with a team, so I think it may have been in an operations role where my skills could be used effectively.


 

Elizabeth Cava elizabeth-cava-website.jpg

Company: Deloitte in Bermuda 

Job title: Partner

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

In college, I interviewed with various companies and government agencies, ultimately deciding to work in financial services at Deloitte in New York City. My insurance and asset management experience provided me with the perfect background to move to Deloitte in Bermuda.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The international experience. I have been able to travel to four continents on various assignments. Depending on the project, I might be working with people in Bermuda or leading a multinational project. This affords me opportunities to learn about different approaches to a shared project.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

At each new milestone in my career, there is something new to learn such as working with a client in a new industry, regulatory changes, or incorporating new technology into our projects. Working on these challenges with other talented professionals at Deloitte has accelerated my own professional growth.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

A foreign service or intelligence officer. I have formally and informally studied six languages and find international relations a fascinating mix of economics and history.


 

Mia Finsness mia-finsness-website.jpg

Company: Markel Corporation 

Job title: Director, claims

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I graduated from law school at the height of the financial crisis, and entry-level lawyer positions were seemingly impossible to come by in New York. An acquaintance in Bermuda working in the industry introduced me to a law firm in New York that just happened to specialise in re/insurance law. The law firm took a chance on me, and I was hired as the firm’s only first-year associate. Little did I realise that my unique background (I have an English law degree, and I am admitted to the New York Bar) would serve me well in eventually representing Bermuda carriers whose contracts are generally governed by New York law and subject to London arbitration.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Being promoted to claims director at a Fortune 500 insurance company.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

In the insurance world, it is widely accepted that the underwriters are the rock stars of the industry, and very little glory or prestige is associated with claims and legal roles, despite the fact that insurance is, in essence, the business of paying claims. This reality makes it difficult to recruit exceptional talent in the claims world and also discourages individuals who do stand out from pursuing careers in claims.

Compounding this unfortunate reality, in Bermuda, is the fact that the local insurance mentoring and educational organisations have historically focused their efforts on programmes geared towards underwriting, actuarial, and accounting.

I have worked with several prominent lawyers at local companies and firms to start a Bermuda chapter of the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, an international organisation dedicated to educational and networking opportunities for in-house claims and legal professionals and outside lawyers working in the industry.

In addition, I have encouraged the Bermuda Insurance Institute (BII) and other local insurance educational groups to incorporate information on claims and legal insurance careers into their educational programmes. I hope that others who have succeeded in insurance claims and legal professions continue to mentor and encourage younger generations to pursue such careers.


 

Rachelle Frisby rachelle-frisby-website.jpg

Company: Deloitte in Bermuda 

Job title: Partner, financial advisory

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I have always been interested in how people make the decisions that successfully (and sometimes not) operate their businesses. I take great pride in business leaders using our firm’s advice to help make those decisions, some which are not easy and may alter the course of their company.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Growing the financial advisory practice from a small team that focused on restructuring and insolvency, into one that now includes business valuations, forensic and dispute, and compliance services. I have received great support from the other partners to reach a long-term vision.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

I obtained a Fellowship from INSOL International, a global federation of national associations who specialise in turnaround and insolvency, in 2013. Being the only accountant in a class full of lawyers, I had to double my efforts to stay up to speed on the insolvency cases and restructuring regimes that many of my peers would have had more familiarity with.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

I enjoy travelling and finding local spots that you don’t read about in travel guides. This could be a small family-owned restaurant that serves amazing food or a park that may be hidden from general view. I would have loved to plan itineraries that included these spots and shown them to those who wanted to join the adventure.


 

Paula Lewin paula-lewin-website.jpg

Company: Arch Reinsurance 

Job title: Senior international property underwriter

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

Hurricane Andrew launched the property reinsurance market in Bermuda with several startup companies, including Cat Limited where I began. Bill Hunter, one of the early key employees in charge of hiring wanted to recruit young, local graduates from his own university, MIT. He knocked on our home door and asked to talk to the three Lewin siblings (Andreas Lewin, Peta White and myself) who had also graduated from MIT. He invited all three of us to join Cat Limited to help launch a new catastrophe modelling team. All three of us disclosed that we knew nothing about insurance and his response to that was: “Don’t worry, you will learn.”

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

One of the most exciting/unbelievable periods came when I worked in the US property market during the hard market post the 2004 hurricanes, Charlie, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne as well as the 2005 Cat 5 hurricane, Katrina. Now that we are in an extremely soft market, it is important to remember just how quickly things can change. It will be very interesting to see how various companies and business models fare after the next series of large losses.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

I was offered the opportunity to run the specialty desk at a past company. Many companies in Bermuda do a fantastic job of promoting within and this was clearly that sort of opportunity for me. The shift of moving from monoline, US property business to underwriting lines of businesses I had little experience with, catastrophe bonds, insurance-linked warrantees (ILWs), US multi-peril crop insurance and workers’ compensation took me out of my comfort zone. It was an exciting, busy and frankly a little intimidating time.

My learning curve was steep and my curiosity high and soon I found myself in a diversified world of risk and solutions and enjoyed those challenges. At Arch Re, the biggest challenge is underwriting in this tough, soft market and fortunately we have an exceptionally connected team all with the same end result in mind—the needs of our clients and our strong belief in discipline and the longevity of Arch.


 

Vivienne Moniz vivienne-moniz-website.jpg

Company: XL Catlin 

Job title: Senior vice president, underwriting manager, excess casualty, Bermuda Insurance Operations

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

Bermuda is a leader in the global re/insurance industry. The appeal of this illustrious industry and the opportunity to learn and grow attracted me. I knew several people within the industry who encouraged me to consider a career in it, suggesting my educational background and personality were a good fit for insurance. I entered the industry when I applied for a position in the claims department at XL in 2004 and was successful.

It was a great experience to learn the mechanisms of an insurance product from the claims perspective. However, my interest was piqued by the dynamic and exciting environment of underwriting. An opportunity was presented to transfer to underwriting within XL. I was excited to move to the frontline of the business, closer to where underwriting decisions were being made and in direct contact with clients and brokers.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career has always been the people with whom I work. I continue to be inspired by a team of talented individuals, industry experts and leaders within Bermuda and across the world who are innovative, seek cutting-edge solutions and collectively contribute to XL Catlin’s global recognition as a leading re/insurance company.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

The speed of information transfer and access to information is unprecedented. The ability to process, respond and maintain relevant real-time information in this dynamic environment is a challenge. It is a critical capability to be able to remain at the forefront.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

It would most certainly have involved economics and finance.


 

Natalie Neto natalie-neto-website.jpg

Company: Cox Hallett Wilkinson  

Job title: Director, head of corporate

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I decided to become a lawyer at the tender age of 14. I attended a school careers fair and was advised that as a female student who was attending a comprehensive school, it would not be an easy career path and I should perhaps consider something more attainable. This only served to fuel my determination and I wrote to the then Lord Chancellor’s office asking for his opinion on the matter and received a response urging me to pursue my dreams, so it was really all his fault! I enjoy language, problem-solving, arguing and business and I detest being bored so—a corporate lawyer it is!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I very much enjoyed my time in the UK and received excellent training and mentorship at DLA Piper, which has served me well to this day. While there, I specialised in private equity and M&A and I had the pleasure of acting on behalf of management buy-out teams during the boom in venture capital activity. It was very satisfying to help people who had worked their way from the ground up to acquire and manage their own businesses.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to relocate to Bermuda. From a career standpoint, the diversity and quality of clients that I have worked with and the deals that I have been involved in have been extremely fulfilling. One of my recent highlights was advising EXOR in respect of the acquisition of PartnerRe, which was very challenging and exciting from a legal perspective.

I am also delighted and honoured to be appointed as a director at CHW and to head up a great corporate team.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

While I enjoy my job immensely, my family is also hugely important to me. I had my children late in life and it has been difficult at times to manage the demands of young children and my career. However, I am lucky to work with supportive colleagues who recognise the importance and benefits of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and to have a supportive family who realise that my career is important to me.


 

Carol Paiva carol-paiva-website.jpg

Company: XL Catlin 

Job title: Senior casualty underwriter, Bermuda reinsurance operations

Why did you choose to work in the industry?

I had been working at a job straight out of school and not finding it very satisfying. I arranged a meeting with a job placement agency, took an aptitude test and was sent off on my first interview within a week. I was hired on the spot and have been in the industry since then. Over the years I have taken various courses to enhance my knowledge base and improve my skillset because it is very important to be on top of your game if you want to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I started my career when the industry in Bermuda was all about captives. It’s been wonderful to see the transformation over the years to a fully-fledged vibrant and innovative marketplace. My career path started accidentally in the industry and now so many of our young people are specifically focusing on an insurance career—it bodes well for Bermuda’s future. It is key that we nurture this talent.

I try to mentor/coach people and share experiences that I’ve had in the industry and sometimes advise what their next steps should be. It’s very satisfying for me when I have influenced a person’s career path in a positive way.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

I would say work/life balance. It’s a challenge to get it right. Often work tips the scales due to deadlines, travel, etc. It’s important that when you are with your family, the iPhone stays tucked away so you switch off from work mode.

Early on in my career, because the industry was so male-dominated, it was a real challenge to be taken seriously. More often than not I was the only woman in the room but I never let that deter me from moving upwards. I was determined to prove myself and I did. Things have changed a lot since then, but we still have a way to go.


 

Tana Tucker tana-tucker-website.jpg

Company: KPMG 

Job title: Human resources director

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

It was the first job offered to me when we moved back to Bermuda. When I accepted it, I thought: “two years tops—accountants are boring and I will find something much more fun once we are settled”. That was 20 years ago and I am still here—they are not boring!

The human resource function was in its infancy when I joined the firm and our people are key to success. I enjoy knowing I have developed a team who deliver a high level of service for our people and the firm.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Being part of the executive team at Country Gardens in the UK when we went through a very successful IPO. When I joined the company in 1990 we had 12 garden centres in the south of England and by 1995/6 we had grown to 33 sites with over 1,000 staff members. It was decided by the board that we should launch on the stock exchange and I was part of the team who worked towards this. It was extremely hard work, very exciting and ultimately very successful.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

In terms of career I would say the decision to leave Country Gardens when my husband changed his career and we moved to Bermuda. I realised I had made the right decision when a year or so after moving to the Island, I received a call from my old director asking if I would seriously consider returning to UK and rejoining him. At the time I was relaxing on my verandah, with a cold drink, looking at blue sky and enjoying the warm weather and he had already mentioned it was raining and cold in the UK.

The other challenge is the one all women face when being a working mother: the constant juggle between work, children, partner, etc, is exhausting at times. When it works it is highly rewarding but you have to be extremely organised and have a strong support network.


 

Kim Willey kim-willey-website.jpg

Company: ASW Law 

Job title: Senior counsel, consultant

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

Prior to working with ASW Law, I practised for several years as an M&A and securities lawyer in a large national Canadian law firm (FMC, now Dentons). My client base in Canada was primarily in the mining and oil and gas sector. I enjoyed the challenge of practice in this area, particularly in coordinating large transactions or capital raises involving parties in different jurisdictions. However, I was looking for an opportunity to expand further into an international legal career. Bermuda’s Blue Chip reputation, and significant insurance and reinsurance sector perfectly fit what I was looking for.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career so far has definitely been working with Bermuda’s reinsurers and insurers in the latest wave of consolidation in the industry. This has been a dynamic and engaging experience, and has involved analysis of many complex points of Bermuda law. These transactions have also provided numerous opportunities to work with insurance and reinsurance companies, legal counsel and regulators from Bermuda and across the world, including New York, London, Latin America, and Asia.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?

On a daily basis, I strive to find the right balance between the many roles in my life, which include client interests, professional development, community commitment, and family and friends. There is no perfect mix to these many roles; I find rather that it is a fluid process requiring careful daily management of my time.

If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what would it have been?

I love athletic activity, intellectual challenges, animals and being outdoors, but I do not think there is a career that really incorporates those interests. Also, even if there was, I thoroughly enjoy being a lawyer, and could not imagine doing anything else. Every day provides a different challenge, and I appreciate being able to help clients navigate through these challenges so that they can build value in their endeavours.

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