Primed For Success

11-10-2018

Primed For Success

iStock.com / primedforsuccess

The battle to find, recruit and hang on to talent is a constant one—and a vital one if Bermuda is to maintain its position as a leader in the world of risk transfer. Bermuda:Re+ILS takes a look at some of the rising stars—all under 35—tipped to lead from the front in the future.

The first few rungs on the corporate ladder can sometimes be the hardest, as people get used to the industry they have joined and the culture of the company they have committed to. But, for some, those rungs can be a moment to shine, to catch the eye of senior management as they display initiative, strength of will, ability—all those hallmarks of a rising star.

It’s hard to overstate just how important it is for Bermuda not just to attract but also to retain the best talent in the re/insurance industry. The Island is always facing international competition and needs to make sure that it is a step ahead of rival jurisdictions. The day Bermuda becomes complacent about its place in the financial world will be the day Bermuda loses its lead in that world.

That’s what makes these rising stars so important—their potential to be leaders in the market of the future. And with diversity a major topic not just in the industry but also for the whole Island, it’s important that these rising stars are as diverse as possible.

Every year industry veterans retire, packing up their keepsakes and mementoes from years in the industry, and they have to be replaced. Picking those replacements is increasingly important. As the re/insurance industry adopts to changing times, it also needs changing attitudes—and changing priorities.

We compiled this year’s list of rising stars from nominations and in-house research from companies across the Island; these are the names to keep an eye out for in the years to come.

All 15 of this year’s batch, who are listed on page 19, have been nominated by their companies because of their exceptional talents and drive to succeed. All are under 35 years old—and for many of them age means nothing in terms of what they have already achieved.

Technology matters

We have profiled and interviewed them about their reasons for choosing this industry and their ambitions. Some of the common themes include the fact that the industry is going through a transition and becoming much more technology-focused, with the lines blurring between traditional risk transfer and other sectors. Some also note that the industry can be easily overlooked when considering career paths.

Benedict Parfit, an underwriting trainee, global reinsurance property at Markel Corporation, went into the re/insurance industry because he had a great experience as an intern with Markel and was encouraged to apply after graduation. Parfit says that Markel is continually looking forward, innovating, implementing new technology and providing him with an exciting and dynamic work environment.

Parfit says that the reinsurance industry is an overlooked sector. Historically many of the top graduates went into finance and now into private equity and technology startups, he says. “Interesting things are happening in the industry, insured values are going up globally as the world develops, so there is an increasing need for both insurance and reinsurance coverage,” he adds. “The continued integration of technology into the reinsurance world introduces a dynamic that provides a lot of opportunity for personal growth and professional development.”

As a native Bermudian, Natasha Khan Osborne, senior financial accountant at Hiscox Re & ILS, says it’s often assumed that you will naturally end up in the re/insurance industry. For her, however, it was largely due to mentors she has had and a series of fortunate events.

Osborne explains that she was awarded several scholarships that helped fund her university education, some of which were sponsored by Association of Bermuda International Companies and another by Deloitte, which led to her career in accounting.

She adds that her move into the re/insurance industry was a product of the clients she had serviced and the exposure that she gained. She says she was initially hesitant about the industry as she thought that re/insurance was very underwriter and actuarial-centred and she saw herself moving more towards ILS or hedge funds.

However, as her exposure to re/insurance grew, it became clear that the finance function of a re/insurance company can add significant value and really drive a business forward. So when the opportunity for her current role opened, she jumped at the chance.

“The industry has a lot to offer young professionals; there is a role for almost every skillset,” says Osborne. “It’s an exciting time in the industry with the emergence of blockchain technology to the sector, the challenges around decreasing rates and the introduction of new risks. 

“Although it’s a well-established field, there are always new challenges that need new perspectives to help solve them.

“The desire to bring alternative capital by matching specialty underwriting with investment management expertise as an alternative investment is also pushing the industry to find new ways to feed the appetite that is out there for the taking. This requires not just the underwriters and the actuaries to write the appropriate business, but the finance team to find the best ways to become capital-agnostic.

“We also need to provide insight based on the numbers with analysis of where the most profitable growth can come from.”

On the radar

Daniel Linden, head of M&A operations (Bermuda/US) at Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings, points out that like many of his peers, re/insurance was not on his initial radar when he graduated college. He started his career at EY specialising in the real estate industry in Orlando, Florida. After a year he relocated to New York City and was placed in the insurance group within the financial services office. At the time Linden knew little about the re/insurance industry, but it ended up being the perfect fit for him.

“Insurance is one of the few industries that touch on all businesses in some form or fashion, allowing me to gain a breadth of knowledge on various business sectors and their operations,” Linden says. “Although I didn’t initially seek out re/insurance, I am grateful it has become my career.”

Asked if he thought that the industry is attractive to young professionals, Linden sounds a warning note that must be heeded. He states that unfortunately, re/insurance is not a go-to industry for recent college graduates or young professionals. 

“In the US when people think insurance, the first thing that comes to mind is their local homeowners’, auto, or life insurance broker who assisted them and their family into getting their everyday insurance policy,” Linden explains.

“As a result, young professionals are writing off the industry without taking the time to learn more about it. If the re/insurance industry found a way to better educate college students and recent graduates on the range of opportunities and career paths, there may be more interest and excitement.

“Hopefully the development of insurtech and progressive companies will begin to shine a positive light on our industry for young professionals entering the workforce.”

That said, Linden adds that he believes the re/insurance industry is prime for young new talent to bring innovative and forward-thinking ideas to an industry hungry for them. He says that the beauty of re/insurance is the plethora of career opportunities available to someone no matter their background or skillset and that young professionals joining re/insurance early in their careers are fortunate to be entering an industry always in need of young talent, thus exposing them to enormous potential career opportunities.

Donavan Burgess, underwriter, professional lines at XL Catlin always considered the insurance industry as an attractive career path, as in addition to its prominence and rich heritage in Bermuda, it offers a wealth of exciting features which align with his long-term career aspirations. When joining Burgess viewed the insurance industry as a staple of the global economy, creating social and economic stability throughout the world.

“It is dynamic and ever-evolving which provides constant challenges and requires adaptability, nimbleness, and the need to be future-focused,” he says. “I further recognised unlimited opportunities for global mobility, development, and the freedom to establish and enhance my own personal brand.

“With my academic background in business management and being a natural analytical thinker, a career in insurance offered me an exciting opportunity to gain a broad understanding of various industry sectors, evaluate and assess the largest companies in the world, and provide a sophisticated risk transfer solution for their most complex risks.

“Insurance acts as a genuine value to society being a viable financial resource to assist individuals, businesses and countries after an unfortunate event. This collectively equalled the total package in a career and I was eager to be a part of it.”

Sierra Petty, senior audit & assurance at Deloitte, says that the accounting field provides the attraction of a universally recognised designation.

“Having three professional women in my family, a chartered accountant, a corporate lawyer and a banking professional, provided me with the inspiration and motivation to pursue my studies in the business sector,” she says.

“The CPA qualification enables me to use my skills and knowledge in an ever-changing business world. With the fast-paced growth of the reinsurance industry in Bermuda, there is a considerable need for well-trained, young professionals.”

Petty points out that the economy of Bermuda is very dependent upon this field of business and the forecast of future growth should provide ample opportunity for those who are willing and hard working. She adds that the security of having medium to long-term employment should also provide encouragement for the young eager professional and that it is worth noting that most companies are very keen to employ young local talent who show a committed attitude and willingness to work. 


Rising Stars 2018

A sample from the class of 2018 are featured below.

Donavan Burgess

Company: XL Catlin  Job title: Underwriter, professional lines

Career timeline:

2018: Underwriter, professional lines, XL Catlin, Bermuda

2016: Junior underwriter, professional lines, XL Catlin, Bermuda

2014: Junior claims administrator, Montpelier Re (now Sompo), Bermuda

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

It offers a wealth of exciting features which align with my long-term career aspirations. I further recognised unlimited opportunities for global mobility, development, and the freedom to establish and enhance my own personal brand.

With my academic background in business management and being a natural analytical thinker, a career in insurance offered me an exciting opportunity to gain a broad understanding of various industry sectors, evaluate and assess the largest companies in the world, and provide a sophisticated risk transfer solution for their most complex risks.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

The amazing benefits of working in the insurance industry are somewhat overlooked by young professionals with the misconception that it is mundane and lacks the thrill factor. However, it is actually very modern, cutting edge and incorporates the perfect balance of excitement, variety, and stability.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

Whether you are exploring an internship opportunity, starting your professional career or progressing into a more senior role, you will find an abundance of career and personal development programmes offered by insurance companies and the broader insurance community. If you are proactive, goal driven, and an innovative thinker, this industry will provide many of the required resources to make the most of a career in insurance.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I aspire to be the CEO of a global insurance company one day. Until then, I would love to play a role in advancing current underwriting operations with the use of big data and new technologies to boost the relevance of insurance and align more closely with clients’ evolving risks.

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

I would have pursued a career in marketing management. 

Diana Darrell

Company: Arch Investment Management Job title: Vice-president, portfolio manager, investments

Career timeline:

2018: VP, portfolio manager, Arch Investment Management

2016: AVP, portfolio manager, Arch Investment Management

2015: Senior associate, Arch Investment Management

2012: Investment analyst, Arch Investment Management

2009: Reinsurance reporting and administration manager

2007: Senior reinsurance business analyst, American International Reinsurance Company

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

My studies focused heavily on international relations and finance. In particular, I was very interested in the interconnectivity between people, global economics, and government policies. I was looking for a career that would allow me to continue to think and operate on a global scale while living locally.

The sector offers multiple career tracks, which allowed me the freedom to explore. I began my career as a reinsurance business analyst before switching to investments, which is not a career that many outside the industry would associate with re/insurance.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

The industry has recently struggled to recruit talent, as there is a general misconception that it is dull. However, once young professionals are aware of the intricacies of the industry, it would be hard for them not see the attractiveness.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

The industry is committed to developing talent through a dedication to ongoing professional education. I have found the access to experienced professionals who provide practical insight based on real-world experiences to be an invaluable part of my personal development.

What are your aspirations for the future?

In the near/medium term, I am looking to broaden and deepen my skillset. In the long term, as long as I stay focused and create opportunities, the possibilities are limitless. Recently, I have been researching the best ways to see Antarctica.

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

I would love to work with an organisation that focuses on the global empowerment of women. 

Andy DeGregorio

Company: Deloitte   Job title: Senior manager, tax

Career timeline:

2016: Senior manager, tax, Deloitte

2014: Manager, tax, Deloitte

2012: Senior associate, tax, Deloitte

2011: Tax associate, Smith Leonard

2010: Tax associate, CohnReznick

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

I developed an interest for the re/insurance industry as part of my onboarding experience with Deloitte in Bermuda. I decided to pursue a career path in the re/insurance industry given the opportunities it provided, to work in a complex and evolving industry.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

In my role, while not in a re/insurance company, we are regularly helping our clients in the industry navigate new laws and adapt to changes in technology. This industry offers such a broad range of roles, both locally and globally. It also allows professionals, young and seasoned alike, to bring experiences from many different disciplines and apply it daily

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

Many of the reinsurance companies, accounting firms and law firms provide internship opportunities for interested young professionals. There is a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise within Bermuda and re/insurance professionals are generally happy to share their experiences with developing young professionals.

Particularly in Bermuda, there are opportunities to work with senior management early on, which may not be available in larger re/insurance hubs like New York and London. I have also seen many friends and colleagues move from various positions within accounting and law firms to reinsurance companies, and vice versa.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To continue to build my knowledge base and network within the industry. The insurance landscape is constantly evolving, so maintaining a current awareness of the market is key.

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

After taking a few business courses in university and enjoying those much more than biology and chemistry, I made a U-turn on my planned medical path. 

Will Haddrell

Company: Blue Capital Management (wholly-owned subsidiary of Sompo International Holdings)

Job title: Vice president, portfolio manager

Career timeline:

2016: Vice president, portfolio manager, Blue Capital Management

2013: Assistant portfolio manager, Blue Capital Management

2011: Underwriter, property D&F, RenaissanceRe Syndicate 1458

2008: Analyst, property reinsurance, RenaissanceRe Bermuda

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

Friends of my parents, who were in the re/insurance industry and knew I was interested in a career in financial services, suggested re/insurance as an option. Being Bermudian, I was always very aware of the re/insurance industry and after some research it was evident the industry was booming due to several large prior cat years.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

The re/insurance industry has the potential to be very attractive to young professionals—once they get past the myth that it is a monotonous industry. It’s an industry with an abundance of opportunity and some of the most interesting and brightest talent around. As schools continue to expand their risk management programmes and students take advantage of internships, I believe this perception will change.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

As long as we provide mentoring and training to those that are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to succeed, there is no shortage of opportunities and career development. I am very fortunate to have worked within organisations that put a premium on developing their bench. Our industry provides an abundance of options. You might start out as a property cat underwriter, but you don’t have to build your entire career around one product.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I look forward to playing a role as the Blue Capital and Sompo International brands continue to evolve. There are also so many changes going on in the ILS and reinsurance markets, I am enjoying the challenges and the opportunities they present.

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

A US Collegiate golf coach. 

Daniel Linden

Company: Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings (R&Q)  Job title: Head of M&A operations (Bermuda/US)

Career timeline:

2018: Head of M&A operations (Bermuda/US), R&Q

2016: Senior vice president M&A, R&Q

2015: Senior manager, transaction advisory services, EY

2014: Senior manager, financial services office, EY

2011: Manager, financial services office, EY

2008: Senior, financial services office, EY

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

I started my career at EY specialising in the real estate industry in Orlando, Florida and after a year I relocated to New York City and was placed in the insurance group within the financial services office. At the time I knew little about the re/insurance industry, but it ended up being the perfect fit for me. Although I didn’t initially seek out re/insurance, I am grateful it has become my career.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

When people think of insurance, the first thing that comes to mind is often their local homeowners’, auto, or life insurance broker who assisted them and their family into getting their everyday insurance policy. Young professionals are writing off the industry without taking the time to learn more about it.

Hopefully the development of insurtech and progressive companies will begin to shine a positive light on our industry for young professionals entering the workforce.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

The re/insurance industry is prime for young new talent to bring innovative and forward-thinking ideas to an industry hungry for them. The beauty of re/insurance is the plethora of career opportunities available to someone no matter their background or skillset.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want always to be the person people enjoy working with and doing business with. I have been provided a great opportunity at R&Q and I hope to continue the success we have had and build R&Q into the go-to market for legacy (run-off) transactions in the US.

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

I would have been an entrepreneur and started my own business. 

Natasha Khan Osborne

Company: Hiscox Re & ILS  Job title: Senior financial accountant

Career timeline:

2017: Senior financial accountant, Hiscox Re & ILS

2015: Audit manager, Deloitte Bermuda

2013: Audit senior, Deloitte Bermuda

2012: Audit associate, Deloitte Bermuda

Why did you choose to go into the re/insurance industry?

I was awarded several scholarships that helped fund my university education, some sponsored by Associate of Bermuda International Companies and another by Deloitte, which led to my career in accounting. As my exposure to re/insurance grew, it became clear that the finance function of a re/insurance company can add significant value and drive a business forward.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

The industry has a lot to offer young professionals; there is a role for almost every skillset. It’s an exciting time in the industry with the emergence of blockchain technology to the sector, the challenges around decreasing rates and the introduction of new risks. There are always new challenges that need new perspectives to help solve them.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

Given all the changes coming to the industry through technology and market share, your job is ever-evolving. There are so many ways to develop yourself in the industry that allows people to take their careers in very different directions as they progress.

The industry as a whole has amazing conferences and seminars that help you to develop. As much as we rely on our organisations to provide opportunities, I think it is also very much up to individuals to chart their own course and find mentors to support them.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To continue to expand my knowledge of the industry and develop skills that will help me progress. I hope building a strong team and developing my own analytical skills and industry knowledge will lead me to a CFO role within re/insurance.

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

Being a flight attendant would be an exciting job. 

Benedict Parfit 

Company: Markel Corporation Job title: Underwriting trainee, global reinsurance property

Career timeline:

2007: Underwriting trainee, global reinsurance property, Markel Global Reinsurance

Why did you choose to go into the reinsurance industry?

I had a great experience as an intern with Markel and was encouraged to apply after graduation. Markel is continually looking forward, innovating, implementing new technology and providing employees with an exciting and dynamic work environment.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

The reinsurance industry is an overlooked sector, historically many of the top graduates went into finance and now into private equity and technology startups. Interesting things are happening in the industry, insured values are going up globally as the world develops, so there is an increasing need for both insurance and reinsurance coverage.

The continued integration of technology into the reinsurance world introduces a dynamic that provides a lot of opportunity for personal growth and professional development.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to gain experience of other geographic markets, and continue to develop relationships with our clients and counterparties. I am gaining invaluable experience with the retro team at Markel and being supported to pursue industry designations.

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

I was also contemplating a career in asset management. An interesting thing is that I work within the retro team and I expect that there will continued convergence between traditional asset management and the reinsurance industry through the ILS space, so maybe my career will evolve in that direction and the path won’t be that different. 

Sierra Petty

Company: Deloitte  Job title: Senior, audit & assuranceCareer timeline:

2017: Senior, audit & assurance, Deloitte

2014: Associate, audit & assurance, Deloitte

Why did you choose to go into the reinsurance industry?

The attraction of a universally recognised designation. Three professional women in my family, a chartered accountant, a corporate lawyer and a banking professional, provided me with the inspiration and motivation to pursue my studies in the business sector. The CPA qualification enables me to use my skills and knowledge in an ever-changing business world.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

There is a considerable need for well-trained young professionals. The economy is very dependent upon this field of business and the forecast of future growth should provide ample opportunity for those who are willing and hard working. The security of having medium to long-term employment should also provide encouragement for the young eager professional. It is worth noting that most companies are very keen to employ young local talent who show a committed attitude and willingness to work.

Do you think the re/insurance offers good opportunity and career development to young professionals?

Internships (summer, winter and co-op) and scholarships enable students to learn and often give them the opportunity to gain experience and exposure in a number of areas. This will provide a solid footing for the young professional. In addition, networking with those already established in the reinsurance industry may well provide opportunities and open doors that may have otherwise have been missed.

The exempted companies have proven over the years to be good corporate citizens, generously supporting local charities and sports organisations.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I intend to enrol in and complete the ARe designation offered by the BII, after that, who knows? I would also like to continue taking on more of a leadership role with our Deloitte student programmes.

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

In high school, I thought I was destined for a career as a nursery or preschool teacher. 

Mark Robinson 

Company: Validus  Job title: Vice president & international property underwriter

Career timeline:

2014: Vice president & international property underwriter, Validus

2012: Assistant vice president international property underwriter, Validus

2009: Assistant underwriter, Validus

2007: Underwriting assistant, IPCRe Bermuda

Why did you choose to go into the reinsurance industry?

I returned home to Bermuda and applied for several jobs in a variety of industries. I was lucky enough to be given a shot at a small reinsurer.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

It is probably more competitive than ever before. Access to information on the demand side is fundamentally shifting in the way people think about insurance, particularly in terms of relevance, value, and customisation. The next generation of professionals are going to be the ones tasked to effect that change through the application of new technology, particularly in AI and blockchain.

The exciting part is that the next generation is going to be faced with change, and will advance the industry as we know it today.

Do you think the re/insurance industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

Most companies will encourage you to pursue your industry designations as well as other forms of higher learning, and often reward those achievements. I have seen many examples within Validus of my colleagues’ advancements through our development programmes.

We are frequently exposed to many influential and interesting industry leaders. I am a believer that opportunities come to those that are willing to work, sacrifice, and go the extra mile. If you take care of those things, the rest will fall into place.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I’m ambitious by nature and love a challenge. I hope I can put myself in a position where I can help others attain their goals and ambitions.

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

My two passions growing up were sport and travel, so I suppose I would be doing something like big mountain skiing, professional golfing, or cycling.

Katie Warner

Company: Aon Benfield  Job title: Broker, Global ReSpecialty

Career timeline:

2016: Aon Global ReSpecialty, Bermuda

2012: Aon Benfield retro, London

2010: Aon Benfield graduate programme

Why did you choose to go into the reinsurance industry?

I fell into it mostly accidentally but I have found it an interesting, exciting and fun place to work, which is why I’m still here eight years later.

Do you think the industry is attractive to young professionals?

I do think we could be more proactive in selling ourselves to potential recruits. As a dynamic and global industry, which touches a broad spectrum of skillsets and job sectors, we should be able to attract talent from a variety of backgrounds.

Do you think the industry offers good opportunities and career development to young professionals?

The areas that reinsurance touches and the skills required to support the industry continue to widen, and we are seeing people with skills and interests flourishing in the industry in a way that couldn’t have happened even a decade ago. Technical skills are in increasing demand and the growing focus on insurtech is unearthing some really interesting ideas for the future of our sector—all this alongside the need for the more ‘traditional’ broking and transactional skills that the industry rightly values so highly.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I have found the industry as a whole a fascinating place to learn, and I aspire to continue to learn as much as I can from across the market. We continue to evolve more efficient ways to match risk with capital, and unearth new areas of risk transfer in an increasingly complex global environment—these are developments I hope to advance.

I would like to be involved in the development of a stream of new talent in the industry, within the firm and through the market as a whole. I also think the increasing focus on inclusion and diversity will help to build a more capable and successful industry in the future.

Rising stars, Bermuda, recruitment, 2018

Bermuda Re