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Company: Markel International
Job title: Managing director, equine and livestock
2008: Joined Markel
2002: Joined XL
1998: Joined Hiscox
1991: Joined Hughes Gibb, Willis
If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what
would it have been?
I’d love to have been talented enough and motivated enough
to have been professional tennis player. In reality I lucked out
to have a brilliant career that I still wake up every morning
wanting to get to as soon as possible.
What was the most significant development you’ve seen
over the last 12 months?
The most significant development has definitely been Brexit,
which goes beyond any changes or developments in our
market. I think we will all be working for years to come to
sort out the consequences of that decision.
Has the profile of women in re/insurance been raised in
The profile of women in re/insurance has definitely been
raised and Inga Beale has gone a long way in raising that
profile for us. However, it isn’t just at the top, as we wouldn’t
have women at the top if they weren’t coming through from
I know there are more girls coming into the industry than
ever before, but we are still struggling to keep them beyond
three or four years and we need to get to the bottom of that so
that there are more female senior executives, and board level
women in 10 years’ time. If we don’t address what’s happening
lower down we won’t see an improvement at the top.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I grew up in Buckinghamshire and loved riding horses from
about the age of five. After my degree I knew I wanted
to work in the City, because I liked numbers and loved
economics. I went for various interviews with banks and
stockbrokers, and around the same time my uncle, who ran
a Lloyd’s syndicate, suggested I talked to a contact of his at
Hughes Gibb, the bloodstock brokers, owned by Willis. After
that I had a formal interview and got the job. I discovered I
loved business and the icing on the cake was being able to
combine that with my passion.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Heading up the equine and livestock team at Markel
International. We set the team up at the end of 2008, with
four of us and we have now doubled the size of the team
and its income. We have developed what we do to include
business in France, and have considerably expanded and
added an equine related liability line.
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?
Probably having the guts to move from a good broking job,
with great prospects, into an underwriting role that was
unfamiliar. Ultimately it was a great move but it took a
while to realise I’d done the right thing. I’d had seven years
at Willis and there were lots of opportunities but I felt it was
time to do something different and stand on my own feet.
There’s a different dynamic in underwriting because you are
taking the risk and it’s not just doing the deal that’s important.
You have to do the right deal. Being a girl sitting in Lloyd’s
in what was a very male environment was a challenge. Hard
work and professionalism pay off and I’ve worked for some
great companies but am extremely pleased to be at Markel.
“The most significant development has
definitely been Brexit, which goes beyond any
changes or developments in our market.”
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