Challenging trends, challenging times
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As a follow-up to our Women in Hamilton feature in the summer issue and complementing the theme of diversity in this issue, Kathleen Faries, head of Bermuda Branch, Tokio Millennium Re, offers Bermuda:Re+ILS her perspective on the journey of women in re/insurance—and Bermuda’s ability to remain central to global risk transfer.
While progress has been made by the industry on attracting more women to work in it, gaps still remain—especially in the most senior management positions—but the reasons for this are not necessarily straightforward.
That is the view of Kathleen Faries, head of Bermuda Branch, Tokio Millennium Re, who argues that there is no silver bullet to the challenge—but that discourse over what makes a good leader will also help solve these problems over time.
“My view is that we do have a considerable number of female professionals in the Bermuda market. My concern, however, would be that there continues to be a relatively large proportional gap between the overall cohort of women and the number holding senior leadership and C-suite positions,” Faries says.
“As I have stated in the past the reasons for this gap are complex. It may be that the roles themselves are not viewed as desirable and, or, that the sacrifices required are simply not acceptable to many women.
“Regardless, I am hopeful that our evolving discourse regarding what makes a great leader may over time help to shape these C-suite roles into ones that are more palatable and fulfilling for women.”
She notes that much is being done to encourage local talent on Bermuda to join the market. There have been many initiatives launched in recent years and momentum has grown, especially in the efforts to encourage young people into the industry.
“For Bermuda’s size and population, there are ample ways to explore the market, whether it be as an intern, via mentoring programmes offered to high school students or through the Bermuda Insurance Institute (BII), to name just a few. If you are serious about wanting to find out about the industry and possible job opportunities the information and help are readily available. There are also quite a few scholarship programmes offered,” she says.
The debate should not be viewed through the single prism of the re/insurance industry, Faries says. In fact, there is a much wider issue that needs addressing: in many industries including risk transfer, technology will become the differentiating factor in the future.
“Given our technology innovation initiatives in Bermuda, it would be great to see more discussion regarding tech-related jobs in our industry,” she says.
“What about data science? Artificial intelligence? Should we be educating Bermudians about where the industry is heading and what skills and education will be required to take advantage of these evolving roles?
“Should we be offering some of this curriculum at the Bermuda College? It has been good to see a couple of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programmes being offered in Bermuda as well.”
Turning her focus to the health of the Bermuda risk transfer sector, Faries sees it as inevitable that more consolidation will take place and new entrants will be coming into a very different industry.
“The market will continue to shrink in Bermuda over the coming years. We need to prepare young people for a much more competitive marketplace,” she says.
“Technology will no doubt change the shape of some of the current roles in the industry. An understanding of how technology can help us to manage data and enhance how we make risk decisions will be required to succeed in the coming years.”
Yet for all the change she foresees, she believes Bermuda will continue to succeed and prosper.
“Bermuda is known for its resilience and innovation. The work that the government is doing to keep Bermuda at the forefront of what is happening on the technology front should be a catalyst for new opportunities for Bermuda’s youth in the coming years,” she says.
“Bermuda is well placed to change and evolve with the re/insurance market and potentially add even more value through its commitment to lead on technology.
“Regardless, providing Bermudians with the education, skills and behaviours that will result in a workforce that can solve complex problems, and that has an adaptable mindset, should be a priority in a rapidly changing environment,” she concludes.
Kathleen, Faries, Bermuda, technology, women, industry, market, risk, Tokio, Millennium, Re
Challenging trends, challenging times