24 January 2013

Bermuda U40s: (still) on tour

In the second part of our interview with Julia Mather, head of Bermuda at Miller, regarding the ongoing success of the Bermuda U40s tour, Julia addresses the continuing value of touring in helping to nurture Bermuda talent, its value in the current economic downturn and local events organised by the U40s group.

Does the spirit of cooperation associated with touring end with London and Bermuda or are others involved?
Not at all. This year the US U40’s embarked on their first tour to London. There is a fair amount of discussion between the various groups and I believe that the Singapore market is also looking at getting a group up and running. When we have toured either the US or London, we have had assistance from the respective groups, and we have hosted them when they come to Bermuda, so there is plenty of cross-pollination. With communication as easy as it is these days, it is entirely possible to accomplish, if the will to do it is there.

What other events do the Bermuda U40’s arrange for their members?
We organise an array of events throughout the year, some more focused on networking (for example quiz nights, golf days and wine tasting), some on education (knowledge and networking seminars) and others more career-focused like the tour and an industry panel. Because of the work involved in putting them together, the tour and the panel events are only held every other year, but the panel tends to be a case of inviting people at the pinnacle of our industry (Brian Dupperault, Don Kramer and Mike McGavick being recent examples) to come and speak to our members. These are closed sessions where everyone is free to speak without fear of their comments being published somewhere and they have been arranged and moderated by our chairman, Katie Tornari. It is always great to see how gracious these people are with their time and their experience; making themselves available to chat informally after the events. You just don’t get that type of exposure to such people in the course of your day-to-day job.

What are the challenges and what are the benefits for young people who work in the Bermuda market?
Working in the Bermuda market brings with it both challenges and benefits. You have access to some of the biggest names in our industry—to the decision-makers—which is something you would be much further removed from anywhere else. You also have access to some of the biggest accounts, the Fortune 500companies and their risk managers. The downside to this is that it may take you longer to go out on your own, making your own decisions and having your own portfolio, as the numbers are too big to make a mistake. In London, for example, I was given the pen at Lloyds within six months of starting underwriting. However, the other side to this is that teams tend to be much smaller, so if you work hard and make the most of your opportunities, you stand a greater chance of your hard work being rewarded.

Given the economic climate how does the future look for touring?
When you consider the bang for your buck on an educational level, companies realise that the breadth of experience their staff will gain on such a tour is unlike anything they can gain in any other way. We have been very fortunate in the companies that have hosted us and some have really gone all out to show the tourists a good time on top of the education.

Any final thoughts?
I have been very fortunate in the amount of support I have received from Miller over the years. It helps that the company invest so heavily in the education of younger people in our industry and this is just one of the ways they demonstrate that. The London U30’s and the US U40’s have also been very helpful over the years in opening up their markets and welcoming our groups. And the tour would not be possible without the generosity of the hosts. There is always such an effort to make the presentations relevant and I hope that all those who presented to us know how much their time, expertise and hospitality is appreciated. I would also like to thank all those tourists who have come on this journey with me and represented the Bermuda market so well, particularly Raymanda Smith from OCIL, Nikara Fraser from Endurance and Candace Roach from Validus who all helped make this last tour so successful. Candace Roach is taking over from me as tour leader for the next tour and I know she will make it even better and bring a new dynamic to it. I have been fortunate enough to work with many of these people since touring with them and it’s great to see them flourish.