Influential women in re/insurance: re/insurers and brokers
OF OF 2017
Helen Louise James
Company: RenaissanceRe Holdings
Job title: Senior vice president & global corporate controller
2017: Senior vice president & global corporate controller
2013: Senior vice president & controller, Ventures,
2007: Vice president & controller, Ventures, RenaissanceRe
2005: Assistant vice president & controller, Ventures,
2001: Assistant controller, RenaissanceRe
1997: Audit, Andersen, Bermuda
More recently, I was promoted to global corporate controller
and this has been an exceptional opportunity to engage more
broadly across the global organisation, to manage a global
function and influence the strategic development of the
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?
RenaissanceRe has experienced leadership changes in the
finance function over a relatively short period after a lengthy
period of very little change. Leadership changes create
opportunities, one of which is the opportunity to take a step
back and think about how a function will operate in the
future to help support the strategic priorities of the business.
Being part of the leadership team focused on thinking
strategically about how best to position the finance function
to support the business, and how to add value has been a new
and interesting challenge.
If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what
would it have been?
It would have been something completely different—maybe
a photographer for National Geographic or something else
equally outdoorsy and exotic.
Helen James is a senior vice president & global corporate
controller for RenaissanceRe Holdings. She is a chartered
accountant with 20 years of experience in accounting
and financial reporting for the insurance industry. She is
responsible for accounting policy and controls; management
of the group wide controller’s function; legal entity,
regulatory and financial reporting.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
It wasn’t a specific ambition to join Andersen in Bermuda,
but they had an opening in the insurance portion of the
practice so that was my first exposure. Given my background
at Andersen, the insurance industry was a natural step for
me and a colleague connected me with RenaissanceRe. It was
perhaps a case of being in the right place at the right time,
and I have never regretted the move.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve spent my entire post-audit career at RenaissanceRe and
have been fortunate to have had many highlights. I am
privileged to have worked with smart people who have taken
the time throughout my career to push me, and teach me.
A highlight has been my involvement in the innovation
and growth that is the hallmark of our third party capital
Being part of the ventures team and navigating the constantly
changing landscape, as it relates to third-party capital, has
given me the opportunity to think outside the box, to refine
my skills and learn new ones as the environment changes.
“This has been an exceptional
opportunity to engage more broadly
across the global organisation.”
40 | INTELLIGENT INSURER | 2017 www.intelligentinsurer.com