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For the third year running, BermudaRe+ILS present Women in Hamilton, a feature profiling some of the most successful and influential Bermuda-based female executives working in or servicing the risk transfer sector.
Since this is an annual project, every year we research out a new list of 25 female executives to further demonstrate the depth of talent on Bermuda. Therefore, this list complements our 2016 and 2015 research and it should be seen as a whole.
The executives profiled were asked a number of questions about their career so far, aspirations for the future and how they see the industry developing.
It is interesting to note how the various executives respond to the question about the biggest challenge they have faced. A number still cite juggling family life with a successful career as their biggest challenge while others note how proud they are to be carving a career path that can be followed by future women.
Carol Paiva, a senior casualty underwriter at XL Catlin, for example, notes that she finds her work/life balance a challenge to get 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,” she says.
“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.”
Kim Willey, senior counsel at ASW Law, concurs, noting that the biggest challenge she has encountered in her career so far is finding the right balance between the many roles in her 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,” she says.
Anna Burns, partner at Deloitte, echoes this sentiment. While she cites her biggest challenge as being innovative in an ever-shifting marketplace, driven by changes in the economy, regulatory environment and technology, she also notes that one of her highlights was achieving something that few women had in her firm.
“A highlight that stands out for me was being promoted to partner in 2012—and becoming the first female partner at Deloitte in Bermuda. I hadn’t appreciated at the time the impact the promotion of a female partner would have 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,” Burns says.
It’s the work that counts
Many of our respondents cite challenges and achievements that have nothing to do with their gender, perhaps indicating a wider trend in the industry of gender becoming less of an issue.
Paula Lewin, senior property underwriter at Arch Re, for example, notes that her career highlight was working in the US property market during the hard market post-2004 and Charlie, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne as well as the 2005 Cat 5 hurricane, Katrina.
“We are in an extremely soft market, and 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,” Lewin warns.
Several executives also mention—in the context of career highlights—their decision to work on Bermuda in the first place. Very few seem to have regretted that move.
Tana Tucker, human resources director at KPMG in Bermuda, says that making the decision to move to Bermuda was pivotal for her. “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 the blue sky, enjoying the warm weather and he had already mentioned it was raining and cold in the UK,” she explains.
Natalie Neto, director at law firm Cox Hallett Wilkinson, agrees. “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 I have been involved in have been extremely fulfilling,” she says.
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